I walk across Catford Island at least a couple of times a day, and it was here, one morning at the end of last year, where I got the idea for starting work on this album. I was listening to an earlier rough mix of this particular track, and it seemed to fit the mood perfectly, as I strode across the tarmac, en route to Catford Bridge station.
Originally, this piece much longer and more layered, but after a while of struggling to get the arrangement just right, it seemed logical to strip things down. Where once there was a twangy tremolo guitar, it now remains plugged in, but unplayed (with just the buzzing amplifier still audible). The bass line was originally played on a bass guitar, but ended up being played on the left side of a piano. Ever since that car park epiphany, this has always been intended as the opening track on the album.
I can vaguely recall my first trips through Catford, when I first moved to Lewisham in the mid 1990s. This would usually involve getting the bus to Bromley or Croydon, or the odd trip to the Greyhound stadium. I remember being welcomed by the bold signage of the Catford Gun Company (then situated at the foot of Eros House), then the bus would veer onto the Gyratory, past a brownfield site, cordoned off with corrugated fencing, usually adorned in fly posters.
During the course of working on this album, I’ve been trying to do a bit of digging to find out a bit more about the locations that I am referencing. Nowadays, this is the site of a rather unspectacular retail park. But where the McDonalds now stands. there once was a school – Plassy Road School opened in 1884, and was later renamed Rushey Green school in 1951. The school moved to it’s current location (on Culverley Road) in the 1970s. Some remains of the original site are on display in the school grounds.
The north side of the Island was until very recently the site of The Catford Timber Company, which closed it gates earlier this year after 117 years of trading. The yard is in the process of being developed into a “mixed use” site of new homes and business units – it may not have been as iconic and visible as Catford Stadium, but represents another loss of a local institution (Phoebes Garden Centre being another recent casualty).