February – May 2011
When Brad left London in February 2011 he left behind a set of keys and a note. The keys were for his flat in Clapham and the note said to enjoy ourselves. We ended up with almost 4 months of this London base, and enjoy it we did.
Brad left London following a heaving party under Clapham, with Gary and Luke moving into his old flat hours after the Goblinmerchant flew to Vegas, first things that morning. The first few nights were tense. Patch works out of town Sunday to Wednesday each week and as such, Gary was often alone but for the evening visits I would make, often with Neb or Dan in tow. As time passed, our trust in our own security grew, and we often breached the ideal that the squat should never be left unoccupied. After a few weeks, permanent residents were doubled with Alex and Jemma moving in to escape the monotony of Berkshire suburbia.
The pad was opened up for other explorers to use and I guess around 30 different people made use of the accommodation here during our occupancy, eventually branching out to take control of 4 of the 6 flats in the building. (the other two were rancid!) Usual routine was to turn up and comandeer whatever room was available, before coming downstairs at the earliest possible hour to make tea and have a shower as loudly as possible. Nothing would get done, for we were here to party. The sun shone onto Clapham Common, we made hay.
Brad’s old room was our nerve centre. With two maps left behind, one of Europe and the other of London, we took delight in sticking pins through each as we ticked another location off. We ran out of pins after a while. The European map had black lines scrawled across, marking the routes of various roadtrips we’d taken. Tacks marked the cities we explored in. When Urban Fox and Brickman came round, we ran out of those pins too. We anglicised the flat with a couple of flags. Most importantly perhaps was pinned to the door, our Section 6 notice informing any would be interferers of our rights. Week after week, we’d return home in the early hours, with a pin to stick in the wall and a story to tell, wondering how long we’d have this excellent base to work from.
The roots of the pad were as such. Towards the end of 2010 the bathroom above Brad’s flat had leaked heavily onto his bed, partially collapsing the ceiling. The landlord had failed to repair this, and the leaks had continued for over a month before they screwed some MDF to the ceiling to cover it up. Later in the year every occupant of the building was given notice to quit, with the rumour being that the landlord wished to renovate the building and let it for much higher rental amounts. Naturally, this was considered as bullshit and the chap in flat 1 took things into his own hands too, staying put until a legal eviction was enforced. 12 years of being a good tenant squashed like that, with standards squeezed and conditions worsened. No thanks!
While this will probably appear to be a bunch of friends just messing around in a house together, for us it was an opportunity – A base from which to conduct our assualt on London. A chance to concentrate on hitting stuff week after week, strengthening our knowledge of the city and what makes it tick. While the Bradpad existed as the LCC squat, York Road, Kings Cross, St Mary’s, Aldwych and Brompton Road all fell, as well as the Mailrail network. British Museum rooftop was conquered, and night after night we scoped the city with a greater concentration than we had ever before. The little stuff got done, those smaller rooftops that you’ve probably never heard of too.
I often work in London. It’s great for me, gives me an opportunity to finish my day in town and then get straight out there, don the waders, don my cape and do something urbanish. The squat made this much easier, and I probably spent 3 nights a week here. As the weather got better, we’d have regular barbecues then sit on the roof, drinking Red Stripe and looking out over to Battersea PS and The Shard. We enjoyed this so much we even stopped going out, but this was probably more due to the curfews some of the naughtier boys got when they were caught dicking around in the tube.
Eventually the landlord got his head around the legal system and served papers to obtain a possession order. He did miss a trick and fail to go for interim possession, which gifted us more time. Despite eventually getting evicted (that’s the very nature of a squat!), I’ve got some great memories from our squat time – here are some of them.
- That night Steve Duncan turned up and we ended up doing tube 8 deep, then coming home at 5am, somehow finding somewhere for everybody to sleep and then having to get up for work for 8. Live the dream!
- That big barbecue after the tube bust where we all chilled, cooked shitloads of meat and drank whiskey. That relaxed us all, we stuck in there together and the guys that needed a bit of moral support got it. [It’s not just all about tube and tunnels.]
- Sitting on the roof on midweek evenings looking out at the skyline, deciding what we were going to do, then going and doing it.
- Realising that we had the ability to pick locks, and opening up every room in the entire house.
- My Birthday, where I was given a surprise party in some tunnels (where else?), before we got naked then invited some random Romanians into some more tunnels. They accepted(!)
- Running round Clapham with a discarded sofa on our heads, then waking Gary up with “We’ve just acquired a sofa”
- The visits from the inept letting agent “Are you still here?” “Yeah”. “Are you going to leave?” “Nah- are you going to fix the ceiling?” “Nah”. “Fuck off then!”
Happy days indeed!
[If you were part of this, add your memories below and I’ll stick them all here. It was a busy time for LCC, lets not forget that. We achieved a lot in this time, and even though it ended with arrests and curfews, we got shit done]