Prime weekend in South London
Welcome to Prime, the new name for Fifty50 Challenge. Over the last couple of months we've run meet-ups and social activities in London and Greater Manchester and the men who attended loved the concept of getting together with like minded blokes similar to them and trying new things. Some liked the idea of a fresh challenge, some were excited to meet new people and others were keen on fun activities. However they felt the name Fifty50 was too limited in terms of age. It felt restricted to men who were at least 50 years of age and older. So Prime is all encompassing. It's for all men who feel in the prime of their life. As the dictionary says "The state or time of greatest vigour or success in a person's life". We have a mission to inspire and enable all midlife men in their forties and fifties to be more socially active.
So we started our new life as Prime with a weekend of events in South London. First stop on Friday night was a trip to Martin Grover's art studio behind the railway arches in West Norwood. Turn down the side street past The Hope pub and we were in a back street alleyway where you might have feared to tread on a dark evening in the old days. Now a sign welcomed us to the Dulwich Festival Artists Open House along with Martin's trademark paintings of record covers from sixties soul labels like Stax and Tampa Mowtown. Inside there was a buzz of locals chatting over a free beer or wine admiring the range of paintings and screen prints that covered the building's walls.
As we listened to a selection of his impressive vinyl collection, Martin looked the part in his dapper blue suit, but was really down to earth and approachable. He lives in Brixton and has been in this studio overlooking the railway tracks in West Norwood for the last 25 years. He's a bit of a local institution and his paintings mix local landmarks with a bit of a surreal soul artist twist. My favourites include Barry White crossing Acre Lane, Al Green outside the now closed CarpetRight and Marvin Gaye at Brockwell Park Clocktower. You'll find Martin as a regular at West Norwood Feast and he's keen to join a Prime session at the Book and Record Bar in the future.
The next day was the chance to sample more local places next to railway arches. This time we headed to Herne Hill. Opposite the park there is turning into a yard of mini industrial workshops and car repair units. It also houses the South London Makerspace and Canopy Brewery. In the latter we sampled a quick beer in the sunshine between shower downpours and then went into the arch dedicated to "Making stuff". It was an open weekend for South London Craft week and there were all sorts of hands on sessions. A workshop on converting a bike to fixed gear, a chat with someone who built their own electric bike, glow in the dark doorstops and even Daleks on display. Dermot one of the original founders of the space gave us a tour of the arch they converted. Membership is open and they have access 24/7 to use the facilities once you've gone through inductions on how to use the dangerous tools and equipment. There was a real sense of community and people on hand to help and advise. We were shown the 3D printer, screen print, lathes and woodwork rooms. We discussed a future Prime event to build bespoke wooden boxes and use the laser cutter. And they even gave us laser cut wooden tokens to get a free half in Canopy. We will definitely be back!