Saturday, 13 October 2012

I recently made an album of instrumentals about open air swimming pools. I thought it would be interesting to embed into the recordings actual recordings of the Lidos themselves and in some cases recordings of the locations where the Lidos used to be (Brentwood and Purley Way).

I thought it would be fun to release these recordings on their own.

It's hard to imagine of what use they would be to anyone. However last year I bought a record of catering announcements on trains and I really enjoyed listening to it.

Sound has the ability to transport. Maybe these recordings will take you to a Lido.

In your head at least. Enjoy.

Darren Hayman 13, October 2012 released 13 October 2012

Field recordings by Darren Hayman, Johnny Lamb, JG Smeaton, Dan Mayfield and Patrick Morrison.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Lido - The Second Edition

The first edition of Lido has sold out.

Nearly every artist at times would wish their record company was ultimately more interested in the details, the aesthetics. Most ideas are rejected because they cost too much or take too long.

Frances and Claypipe are different. When the first run of a CD sells out Frances sees it as an opportunity to design a new second edition. Every repress for Claypipe has new cover artwork.

I absolutely adore this devotion to the product. Here is the first edition on the left and the second edition on the right. Every single sleeve is hand glocko printed by Frances.

You can buy Lido from the links on the right hand side.

And look! How many labels do you know that have a badge like this?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Original Lido Paintings for Sale

The 8 remaining Lido paintings are up for sale here We're doing it by email. I hope you like them. Here's a selection here.

Frances prints from the exhibition will also be up soon.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lidophobia in Vienna by Robert Rotifer

It's the end of the summer, and I came back from a trip to my old hometown Vienna over two weeks ago. The memory of the unbearable landlocked heat still lingers, mixed with much older memories stirred up by the city I grew up in. I always find myself going back in time when I'm there. It's the classic homecoming expats' disease.

So right now I'm grateful for the East Kent breeze, and the knowledge that the sea is only a brief car ride away. But as I listen to Darren's Lido record I wonder how different it would sound if he had had the same idea in Vienna. All that serenity, that idea of the lido as an oasis of calm amongst the urban chaos just wouldn't apply. If anything, in the Viennese summer outdoor swimming is at the very centre of social life.

This may sound idyllic, but as a boy I experienced it as a cheerful tyranny.

Picture yourself on a hot central European summer day in the 1970s, a child in a noisy tram rumbling up the hill towards one of the highest points of the tenth district, the ungentrifiable southern stronghold of working class Vienna. A mix of sweat and suncream hanging heavy in the air, my mum, my sister and I are clutching heavy bags full of all the stuff we are going to need for our day at the Laaerbergbad (a word unpronounceable to anyone not living in Vienna).

Eventually, the tram will reach the top of the hill, the passengers spilling out onto the almost-liquid pavements reflecting the heat of the merciless summer sun, everyone joining the stream of tightly denim-clad grown-ups' bottoms to queue at the gates beneath the tall 1950s clock-tower, collect our keys and find the cabins, where we get changed – to me the biggest horror of the whole excursion, either being on my own in the men's changing room or a little boy among grown women. After all this is Vienna in the supposedly liberated, onwards and skywards to a fairer new world Social-Democratic seventies, so feeling shy about the inadequacies your own body is seen as some kind of laughably backwards square prudishness.

Back out in the sunshine, the noise of hundreds of voices trying to drown each other out is deafening, kids are running to minimise the contact between their naked soles and the burning hot paving, while the grown-ups smugly promenade around in their flip flops, bronzed bellies exposed, afro hairdos and golden necklaces. There is music from various competing transistor radios and announcements over the tannoy. And lots of shrieks, laughs and splashing underneath the diving boards.

What I loved, though, was the smell of the hot fries that we would buy at the café in the afternoon once we'd gotten through the homemade food we had taken along in our tupperware containers. But first you had to go and look for a space on the endless lawns between the pools and the playing fields, where we would spread out our towels amongst all the other families, an endless sea of slouching bodies belonging to perfectly confident people whose eyes I tried not to catch. We always brought books. The light was so bright that when you closed your eyes you could still see the letters burnt into the back of your eyelids, while the sunlit white of the page glowed in all the colours of the rainbow.

I seem to remember two large pools and two small ones for children. One of the large ones had a wave machine that they would turn on at regular intervals. I am told the clock tower, which held and heated 100,000 litres of water to be used in the pools was pulled down in 1998, a year after my wife and I had moved to London.

At a capacity of about 6,300 visitors, in a Viennese context Laaerbergbad is one of the larger, but by no means the largest of lidos, that position being undisputedly held by Gänsehäufel which attracts record crowds of up to 30,000 on a busy weekend.

Essentially, Gänsehäufel (which roughly translates as “mound of earth where geese congregate”) is an island in the Alte Donau (“Old Danube”, the remaining bits of backwater from before regulation of the river Danube in the late 19th century, now renewed by springs and groundwater) featuring swimming pools as well as access to the surrounding beaches.

Across the water there are more lidos, among them the less dauntingly sized Bundesbad. In my teenage years, when a new underground line had brought the north side of the river within easy reach, this was the place where I would overcome my early dislike of urban outdoor swimming.

We went back there this summer with friends. It is impossible not to love the shady poplar trees, the finely pebbled beach, the water turned mild by weeks of sunshine, swimming out to the yellow buoys, sitting on the wire that holds them together, and having cheap but proper food at the terrace restaurant.

I told my friends of my former lido-phobia and how the Bundesbad always seemed calmer, more likeable to me than some of the livelier the ones. They nodded knowingly and told me it has a boho reputation these days. So I've been proved a snob again.

I guess the story of the Viennese lidos is a bit like that of the London ones: Promoting healthy exercise for the working classes, swimming pools for the poor. I read that the Bundesbad was in fact established in 1919 to teach soldiers how to swim. The Austro-Hungarian empire had just lost the First World War, so I suppose there was no more access to the Adriatic for the Austrian army, and the shallow waters of the Old Danube were the next best thing.

Like many of Vienna's lidos the Bundesbad was rebuilt in the fifties, which made for some fantastic, vaguely futuristic architecture. I took a few pictures of the changing cabins amongst the trees at my visit in early August and cropped them just now to the sound of Darren's record.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Swimmer a review by Virginie Selavy

This article contains spoilers.

A Hollywood oddity from 1968, The Swimmer stars Burt Lancaster as an upper-class suburbanite who, standing by the side of his friends’ pool on a summer afternoon, decides to swim home through all of the neighbouring pools. Based on a 1964 short story by John Cheever, it was adapted by Eleanor Perry and directed by her husband Frank Perry, with one scene helmed by an uncredited Sydney Pollack, brought in by the befuddled producers. The latter had trouble grasping the symbolic nature of the tale: through the central conceit, The Swimmer is really about a man in the midst of a mental breakdown slowly forced to face the reality of what his life has become.


 At first, Lancaster’s Ned appears happy and at ease among his wealthy friends. But as he progresses from pool to pool, more details about his life gradually emerge until the terrible truth about his situation is finally revealed in a heart-breaking finale. The progression from pool to pool is an allegory for Ned’s life, from youth to old age, and from success to ruin. The possibilities of youth are evoked in the first scene through the recollection of blissful, carefree swimming in the mountains with his childhood friend. From there, he moves to a pool belonging to his teen love, which prompts wistful musing over what could have been. At the next house, he convinces a young girl who used to babysit for him to come along with him. At first, it is an exciting adventure, full of laughter and youthful physical exertion, until Ned falls, spraining his ankle, and upsets the girl by becoming inappropriately, intensely, protective. Symbolically limping through the rest of the film, a now weary and vulnerable-looking Ned meets people who reveal the extent of his decline and fall.

As Ned’s change of social status becomes clearer, the world around him becomes increasingly hostile. Welcomed at the first houses he visits, he is called a gate-crasher when he arrives at the pool party of vulgar nouveaux riches neighbours he probably used to – maybe snobbishly – look down on, and he is eventually thrown out. As he tries to cross a busy road, cars beep and swerve aggressively around him. When he wants to swim in the communal swimming pool, he is initially turned away by the employee because he doesn’t have the 50 cents required, then humiliatingly made to wash his feet twice by the attendant, before attempting to cross an insanely busy pool in which he is assaulted by chaotic bodies, floating objects and loud noises. When he reaches the other side, he is confronted by antagonistic shop-keepers whose bills he hasn’t paid, and who reveal more unsettling truths about his family. It is that scene that makes you realise how bare he is. Lancaster spends the whole film wearing only a bathing trunk. Initially, it is a positive thing: Ned looks handsome, powerful, athletic. But gradually, it becomes a poignant image for the fact that he has lost everything: he has literally been stripped bare, physically, emotionally, financially, socially. Ned starts like the picture of success – an idle upper-class suburbanite whiling away a bright summer afternoon by the pool – and ends a failure shunned by all.

We are never told if Ned lost everything as a result of misfortune, or as a consequence of his own actions, although the scene with his beautiful ex-lover suggests he may have been at least partly responsible, his infidelity possibly one of the causes of his predicament. With scathing bitterness, Shirley recalls how he broke up with her because of ‘his duties as a father and a husband’. But when he puts sun cream on her back, she visibly responds to his touch. And when he shivers with cold she puts a towel around his shoulders. The spark is still there and Ned tries to reignite it, but Shirley angrily resists the pull of past love, the hurt obvious underneath the lies she tells him to push him away. As with the nouveaux riches or the shop-keepers, Ned is lost and confused, unable to comprehend why she rejects him so violently.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Lido Exhibition

Thanks to everyone who came out to Rough Trade East last night to see the Lido exhibition and to hear Darren play. The exhibition runs until the 16th Sept.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lido Love

When I was asked to write a piece on Lidos for Lido Music I wasn’t entirely sure what I could say about Lidos that I haven’t already been wittering on about on my blog. You see, in an effort to put off the pressing things I should be dealing with in life I recently set myself a to-do list. In amongst learning to ride a bike at the ripe old age of 33 and posing for a still life class is to swim every Lido in London.
Then it came to me, exactly what I want to tell you about the wonder of swimming in a Lido, in a city. It is this and it has become a precious thing to me.
I feel like I am going on holiday.
I grew up on the Devon coast where being in the water almost became your home away from dry land. From an age that my mum would probably argue was too young my dad chucked every single one of us into the pool at Brixham’s Dolphin holiday camp.  That old fashioned teaching technique of literally sink or swim. Out of four children two of us became water babies, the others still doggy paddle if you manage to get them in the water.
The pool itself, despite being set in a Pontin’s that we would sneak into, was a Lido. That concrete expanse of shallow through to the murkier deep, unheated water and surrounded by concrete steps that stacked up like an auditorium. It was not only where I learnt to swim but where I was taught how to whistle and stay statue still if a bee landed on you. Where we were allowed a coke in a glass bottle from the bar, where we saw Big Daddy wrestle. After a day spent attempting lengths underwater or choreographing lonely synchronised swimming routines we’d climb into the back of the cherry red cavalier still in our swimming costumes and burn the back of our legs on the leather seats, the remaining drops of water turning to steam as we’d rock from bum cheek to bum cheek to avoid the heat.
So despite living down the road from The Dolphin, every time we rolled out the towels it felt like going on holiday. The constant sound of splashes, choc ices for treats and the pool. Always that beautiful pool. Looking back on that now I wonder if, as a child, I ever really grasped how lucky we were to grow up there.
The Dolphin sadly burnt down in 1991 and it was never reopened. I took one last look around at the charred chalets and tennis courts when it did. The pool was sealed off, but through a crack I could see black water and dead leaves. My childhood resembling an oil slick. Even now I sigh at the memory.
Through this self-imposed challenge of swimming London Lido’s I have clawed back some of that feeling I had when I was a carefree child. Of being under the water and amazed that I can still hold my breath enough to reach the other end, the smell of pool water drying on my skin as I lie poolside like a shattered mermaid, of being ravenous starving hungry (that true hunger you only really get after a swim). Of standing at the deep end, knees locked and ready to dive even though I know I am terrible at it and most likely I will fail but not caring anyway.
And of course with London I find myself travelling to places I’ve never been to before, a feeling of the new in a city so old. Sunday morning I found myself on a train to Richmond. Swimming costume on under my dress, towel rolled up under my arm, clean underwear for my return on my bed where I frequently abandon them out of forgetfulness. I love train journeys to unvisited destinations, my nose is pressed up against the window to peek in back gardens, deserted building sites and dirty rivers. I’d never been to Richmond before, just like I’d never been to Tooting Bec until I visited their Lido the other week. I know there’s a pool waiting at the other end of it for me, just like I did when I was a child.
I like taking all these watery holidays.
Hannah x

Hannah writes the From Desk Till Dawn blog

Parliament Hill

Tooting Beck

Bixton Beach

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Taking the Waters

Below is an extract about Parliament Hill Lido by Caitlin Davies from her book 'Taking The Waters, A Swim Around Hampstead Heath'. Published by Frances Lincoln.   Photographs by Ruth Corney. Photos are copyright and may not be reproduced without the permission of Ruth Corney You can buy the book HERE

Photo by Ruth Corney

The Parliament Hill Lido – also known as the Gospel Oak Lido – was built during the golden age of lido construction, as part of a government drive to improve the nation’s health, and especially that of the working class. The aim was to produce a fitter nation with a far better ‘National Physique’ – and what better than to build outdoor pools?
Between 1930–39, at least 180 lidos were built in Britain, adding to the fifty built the decade before. And it was the London County Council that led the way. ‘I promised the people of London that the new LCC would make London a “City of Lidos”. Here we are,’ announced Herbert Morrison in the summer of 1937.
The LCC then submitted proposals for a chain of five open-air swimming pools, with the Parliament Hill Lido situated on 2.5 acres of land once known as the Salisbury Plain. It was designed by two LCC architects, Harry Rowbotham and T.L. Smithson, who designed all thirteen of the LCC’s lidos built between 1906 and 1939.
The press kept people fully informed about construction plans. Readers were repeatedly told the size of the pool – 200ft by 90ft – and its capacity, 650,000 gallons of water. There would be separate swimming hours for men and women and, most daringly, set hours for mixed swimming as well.
The pool would be open every day during the summer, when for five days a week men and boys could swim for free in the early mornings. On the remaining two days it was the turn of girls and women. The lido would also open for mixed bathing from 10 a.m. to closing time on four days a week and bank holidays, at a charge of sixpence.
The raised terrace around the pool was built as if for people to watch a performance, and on opening day on Saturday 20 August 1938 there was quite a show. Five hundred people packed the poolside as the Secretary of the Football Association, Stanley Rous, gave the opening address. He seemed a little confused as to why he’d been invited, saying he could see no connection between football and swimming, but ‘a great deal of money has been spent here and I for one feel that if 34,000 people learn to swim here in the next few years, it will have been money well spent.’
This was followed by a roll of drums by the Metropolitan Police Central Band and then a graceful double dive by Flying Officer C.D. Tomalin of the Highgate Diving Club and Miss J. Dixon of the Mermaid Swimming Club. The diving display also included ‘an hilarious mock life saving episode,’ according to the Ham & High.
The Mayor of St Pancras thanked the aquatic generosity of the LCC, while an LCC representative said it was about time the very poor had access to the sort of facilities normally only available to the very rich.
The ceremony over, the crowds waiting outside were finally allowed to enter; the doors opened and in they trooped cheering. No mention is made of any lifeguards in the press reports, and the lido was probably run by a park keeper; a white-coated individual who dealt with the machinery and who was unlikely to have known how to swim. But two ‘Keep-Fit’ instructors were present on certain days, with free ‘advice and hints’ on swimming, diving and life saving.
Yet while the lido opened with great fanfare, World War II was already on the horizon. The press had announced air raid precautions, the first million civilian volunteers had enrolled, shelters were being erected and plans made for the possible evacuation of children. Even before the lido opened, people were filling sand bags from the construction debris. ‘They had dug up where the pool would be,’ remembers Paul Thorogood, ‘and extracted soil to dig a hole, and there was a great heap of it near the railway line. People filled bags with sand or whatever it was. I was about seven years old and someone chucked a brick at me and I still have the scar today.’
During the long hot summer of 1939, London lidos still swarmed with life. But when war was declared in September, one by one the nation’s lidos began to close. The Parliament Hill Lido took a direct hit during the Blitz when, on 13 September 1940, incendiary bombs caused seventeen local fires. The last fell on the lido at 10.13 p.m., but the fire brigade managed to extinguish each blaze within twenty minutes, and the lido remained open.
This was much to the relief of local children. ‘In the summer of 1943 I visited the lido most days,’ recalls Roy Naisbitt, ‘I was thirteen and I remember how lively it was, full of children and families. I don’t remember people ever swimming up and down or across the pool, just a mass of people going in all directions, splashing around and enjoying themselves.’
When war ended in 1945, life remained hard for most people, the country was poor and food and clothes were still rationed. Few households had televisions or cars, and lidos became urban resorts for post-war babies. Leeroy Murray remembers his first visit to the Parliament Hill Lido in 1948 when he was three years old. ‘I sat down at the shallow end and I looked at the vast body of water that seemed to go on forever, it was a whole world. And then gingerly I got in.’

Photo by Ruth Corney

Photo by Ruth Corney

Photo by Ruth Corney

Friday, 17 August 2012

New Remix Single. ISAN and The Hardy Tree

We think these two remixes (bottom of post) made for the Lido project are very special and we would like to present them to you as a single.

As well as being the label that is to release the CD of Lido, Frances Castle is The Hardy Tree. The Hardy Tree produces small music that never wants to be big. I only mean that as a compliment in times like these. Like me, Frances is interested in place and location in song and also like me she tells stories using lyrical and instrumental music.

Only a few songs on The Hardy Trees first album use words, but when they appear they are precise, teasing and beautiful.                                                                                                                                

The Hardy Tree take you on little journeys. Not big ones, beautiful little ones. The first Hardy Tree album was my favourite release of last year.

Back in the late nineties when I was in Hefner we became infatuated with electronic music. Me and John Morrison would buy confusing, pretty music on labels like Wurlitzer Jukebox, Earworm and Static Caravan. My friend Glen ran Tugboat and put out the first ISAN record. We played it in the tour van.

It was music that I didn't understand completely and that made me love it more. I'm always looking for music I don't understand. I don't want to know why I like things.

I aspire to make music as good as ISANs and when the opportunity came for Robin and Antony to remix one of my tunes I became very excited. I would have assumed that I was too linear for ISAN. I gave them the keys to my house to see what they would do.

King's Meadow from Darren Hayman on Vimeo.

When some people remix they destroy your home. They pour red wine in your bed and sleep with your girlfriend. Others do just a little bit of light dusting.

When ISAN remixed King's Meadow they carefully moved all the furniture from one room and placed it in the other. They didn't break a thing. They just moved everything.

 - Darren Hayman

ISAN and Hardy Trees' reworkings of my Lido music can be downloaded free from the link below.
Frances, Claypipe and the Hardy Tree can be found at

ISAN can be found at

Monday, 13 August 2012

Free Lido Remix - We Show Up On Radar

I first met Andrew Wright aka We Show Up on Radar at a dodgy gig we did together in Nottingham where the promoter refused to pay VAT.

I met him again at a another dodgy gig in Nottingham where afterwards I got car-jacked and put in hospital for a few days.

It's a laugh innit?

Andrew has also been mastering some records for me recently and helped pull the January Songs project last year into something digestible.

This is his take on Black Rock Baths. You wouldn't guess it from this but the original is quite plaintive and restful.

More of Andrew's music can be found here

Andrew plays in london on the 7th September

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Drowned in Sound Review

Lovely review of Lido from Drowned in Sound HERE
To anyone bemused by the Olympic opening ceremony, wondering what nurses, blacksmiths and Mr Bean had to do with Great British athletics, here’s a slice of sporting heritage from ex-Hefner frontman Darren Hayman. Taking a break from his horny underdog persona, the Essex singer has written a tribute to Britain’s open-air swimming pools - lidos - and recorded it without a single vocal. 'If I am known or liked for anything at all in my career then it is for my lyrics… I see words as incisive, accurate tools,' he claimed when he announced the project. It’s a triumph then that Lido is so precise and delicious, its instrumentals perfectly evoking warm memories of paddling under blue skies in chlorine water.
With the same homemade production as The Ship’s PianoLido is an hour of acoustic-electronic pop, each track swathed in nostalgia like Boards of Canada gone busking. Each track has also been influenced by an actual lido, with ‘Parliament Hill’s violins, beats and bells emerging from the roar of boys’ showers - one of several recorded for the album that must’ve netted Hayman some sort of restraining order. ‘Tinside’ is exquisite, just banjo and mellow accordions, and features the sound of the caretaker lashing the kids with a cold hose; the lido equivalent of a wave machine. Though obviously drawn from Hayman’s Thatcherite childhood, the era he’s targeting is a vague one - ‘London Fields’s plucked guitar and old keyboards could be a Seventies sitcom title.
Lido doesn’t just stay in the capital, and features enough musical variation to fulfill Hayman’s assurance that you won’t miss the lyrics. There are occasions, however, where he commands so much emotion that his reedy vocals would be a bonus: ‘Saltdean’ and its bittersweet keyboards could easily carry one of his venereal anecdotes, as could the sad shuffling banjo of ‘Black Rock Baths’ and its obvious verse-verse-chorus pattern. But it’s a tiny niggle, and Lidoworks best in its own quaint spirit, remembering the public pools as the hubs of the community they used to be.
And in some places, still are: ‘Stonehaven’, named after the Olympic-size heated seawater pool in Scotland, uses stylophone-led electronics from Hayman’s short-lived duo The French; one of the most promising projects of his career. It’s a bopping five minutes of experimental pop, juggling glitch with folk guitars and cementing the atmosphere Lido’s been striving for - people playing in city centres, innocent times that aren’t quite yet over. Hayman’s channeled this mood into music and the result is a delight, his compositions as sharp as the lyrics he’s dispensed with. Later this year he’ll release The Violence, an album about seventeenth-century witch trials that’ll no doubt feature lines about stakes, gibbets and ducking stools. Until thenLido proves a strange double truth: that a group of people isn’t necessarily a mob, and that you can be idiosyncratic without speaking.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Jubilee Pool Video

Jubilee Pool - Darren Hayman from Darren Hayman on Vimeo.

A video for Jubilee Pool. A song from Darren Hayman's album Lido.

Available on Claypipe and WIAIWYA records.

Jubilee Pool available for free here

Directed by Mark Jenkin.

Selected footage taken from 'Jubilee Pool' (2003) by Nick Harpley

Lido has just had a 4 star review in Mojo! (However they failed to mention that the vinyl swimming pool blue version is available from WIAIWYA)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Super Swimming Stadium

Super Swimming Stadium by Darren Hayman from Darren Hayman on Vimeo.

"Essays on memory and lost, bold, civic dreams"

 There is  an interview with Darren about all things Lido over at The Quietus.

 We are now taking pre- orders for Lido:
The vinyl LP can be ordered from WIAIWYA HERE
The CD can be ordered from Darren HERE
Or from Clay Pipe Music HERE

Friday, 13 July 2012

Purley Way Remix by The All Golden

There's knowing people and there's knowing people isn't there?

Or what I mean to say is, 'knowing' someone doesn't mean what it used to.

This a remix of my song Purley Way by The All Golden aka Pete Gofton.

I 'know' Pete but I've never met him. I met him on Twitter. He seems more than alright.

He made me laugh a couple of times by the way he hated Van Morrison and loved Mike Nesmith in almost the same nuanced way that I did. Made me think I could drink with him or that he would make a good job remixing one of my songs.

Purley way is a strange one, when it comes to Lido history. It was closed in 1980 but the unqiue Deco diving board still survives inside a gardening centre. Dan Mayfield did some field recording there for my album Lido.

As well as the album and CD I'm very proud to announce that Lido will also be an exhibition.

An exhibition of artwork from Lido

Lido is an instrumental album by Darren Hayman about open air Swimming Pools.

3rd to 16th September 2012
Rough Trade East
'Dray Walk'
Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
E1 6QL
T: 0207 392 7788

8.00am - 9.00pm - Monday to Thursday
8.00am - 8.00pm - Friday
10.00am - 8.00pm - Saturday
11.00am - 7.00pm - Sunday

A special instore performance from Darren Hayman on the 3rd September from 7pm.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Frank Sherwin

Morecambe and Heysham - poster by Frank Sherwin.

My name is Frances Castle and I run Clay Pipe Music the small label that is releasing Lido on CD. I started Clay Pipe initially to put out some of my own music - and this quickly led on to releasing music by other people. Darren's CD will be the sixth on Clay Pipe. The idea is  to stay well clear of  plastic jewel cases and put out limited edition CDs in hand made covers that I design and illustrate myself. I guess the time and effort put into every release is a direct response to mp3/download culture where it seems like music and its packaging has been devalued at bit. It is also looking likely that some future releases will be on vinyl.

The music I have put out so far has largely been British atmospheric and instrumental, but the musicians have come from varied backgrounds and genres.

Get the flash player here:

I wasn't sure what to write for this blog until Chris Ingham posted his poem about Ikley Lido. By chance the poster he used to illustrate it was by my grandfather Frank Sherwin who as a commercial artist in the 1930s-50s  did a huge amount of work for the railways both before and after they were nationalised. He and his contemporaries were largely responsible for promoting the image of the golden era of the British seaside holiday as we think of it today.

My Grandfather was born far from the sea in Derby in 1896, the son of Samuel Sherwin who was a Chemist by trade but also a keen amateur artist. During the first world war he served with the Honourable Artillery Company and fought in Italy. On demobilisation he studied at Heatherleys Art School in London.

I don't know how the images were commissioned though I would imagine that he went to the places in the posters and sketched from life. This is the way he usually worked, I doubt he used photographic reference.

He was a watercolour artist at heart, and I think probably saw the poster work  as purely commercial, he also did more traditional watercolours that were used as carriage prints – hung up in frames above the seats, as well as prints for Medici, and many greetings cards and book covers. In fact the work he did isn't that far off the kind of work that I do as an illustrator today. As a child I wasn't aware of all the commercial work he had done, and thought of him purely as a traditional artist. I remember him sitting at his desk skilfully moving watercolour paint across, stretched wet paper. He died in 1986 aged 90.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Beautiful Records

 Although not officially released until August, the Lido Vinyl and CD have arrived.

It's the first time I've collaborated on album artwork with another artist. The cover itself is designed by Frances Castle who runs Claypipe Music who will be releasing the CD edition.

Each recycled card cover of the CD edition is hand Glocko printed by Frances herself. The CD all comes with a 16 page booklet with line and water colour drawings of all the Lidos.

The 12inch has been pressed onto a beautiful marine blue coloured vinyl and also comes with the booklet. It will be released by WIAIWYA records.

Like many artists I've been trying to make the physical editions of records these days as pretty and as covertable as possible.

I hope you like it and buy it.

- Darren

Monday, 28 May 2012

Ilkley Lido – Yorkshire by Chris Ingham

The Diving Board by Chris Ingham


Closest I ever got to heaven,
Above the moors at 14’ 7’’.
Slippery steps, tiny board,
Pool below, friends all roared.
Don’t look down, can’t look up,
Can’t move forward, feet are stuck.
Closest I ever got to heaven,
Above the moors at 14’ 7’’.
Queue behind, getting lairy,
To stay or go – be quite contrary.
Deep breath in, what’s the worst?
Split in two, like a Damien Hirst.
Closest I ever got to heaven,
Above the moors at 14’ 7’’.
Leap of faith, tumble down,
Hit the Water – felt like ground.
Red skin, feel quite ill,
Never again will I climb that hill.
Closest I ever got to heaven,
Above the moors at 14’ 7’’.
The diving board, now long gone,
They say health and safety spoiled everyone’s fun.
Me? I’m glad it’s gone. Don’t care who’s to blame,
A monument to my pride and shame.
Closest I ever got to heaven,
Above the moors at 14’ 7’’.

Fact File:

·       Opened in 1935 as part of King George’s Silver Jubilee;

·       Designed by Frank Skinner, the Borough Surveyor;

·       Entertains 4000 visitors on a hot summers day and 150,000 people a year;

·       Water temperature ranges between 14 and 22 degrees C;

·       Shaped like a half mushroom, with an unscreened fountain and an art-deco coffee shop;

·       Hosts live music and events.

·       Friends of Ilkley Lido:

Friday, 20 April 2012

Jubilee Pool, Penzance by Johnny Lamb

When thinking about lidos, my thoughts turn immediately to my friend the musicologist. She has one of those minds capable of the kind of focus that all academics must have, but also, she has the gift of the childlike ability to turn that focus to the irrational and whimsical. The musicologist loves the lido at Penzance, until the summer though, it was a place of indifference for me. That has changed. Now that place with its iron fencing perched on the front and isolated from the sea that it longs to join and merge with in playful reunion is a potent sign for me, and a portrait of someone now absent. Despite the apparent tragedy of the pool’s separation from the ocean, it is a beautiful thing.

The musicologist had devised a game. We were to swim in all of Cornwall’s tidal pools, allowing ourselves time for hot drinks or brandy afterwards. To her I think it was a romantic vision of crisp university lawns, esoteric conversation and cream cakes. If you could punt in a tidal pool, I’d like to think she would have. To me it was more an image of misbehaving in beach-front bars, a bearded, chain-smoking wastrel, hell bent on the masculine practice of seeming impervious to cold water, while relentlessly pulling on an endless supply of boxes of ten Mayfair. The EA composer completed our team, comedically wetsuited and cheerful, with a healthy look to his face. I think we went to three of them. The list hung largely unticked above the musicologist’s desk for too long. I regret this.

The musicologist has a friend in Penzance, and she would regularly disappear for the day, returning to tell stories of her swims. Once, the sun had rouged her white skin, making it vicious across her shoulders, tight and hot, livid and threatening to peel. I never went with her, except one day when the lido was closed, to try and make a recording for this project. It was the first time I really looked at it. It’s wonderful. And now, with the musicologist far away, I go out of my way to go past it.

I walk from the fisherman’s monument at Newlyn, along the coastline towards St Michael’s Mount. On the best days, when it’s raining, the waves will reach out over the road, soaking car and cyclist indiscriminately as you approach the pool. It is a relic I suppose. Some strange idea of the Victorians, to tame an unambitious section of the sea, so they could bask like seals in the drizzling Cornish summers, whipped by pious winds. How very fucking English. I imagine those giant striped swimming costumes completed by a stupid straw hat coupled with a judgemental gaze and a closeted and bitter sexuality. But this is one of those rare things, a relic that remains of use. It refuses to die, or change. (It seems like an echo of Newlyn’s tired and diminished fishing fleet, which I also love). The barbed iron gate seems to lock out the development around it, like a cultural nature reserve. As the old seaside charm gives way to nightclubs, pretentious delicatessens, chain bakeries, sports bars and pound shops, the whitewashed walls of the empty pool lie dormant for another summer of shrieking children, reclining women and strutting men, escaped for a short time from the details of their lives.

Lidos seem like photographs, a site for atavism. Even the very old are childlike when they swim. It is often the noise of people swimming that occurs to me. It’s one of those strange formless sounds where human beings seem like a swarm. But excited human voices are full of timbre and melody, unlike bees or locusts that drone in uniform tones.

Delight in something so simple, so primal. There is no need for technology in the water. No need even for company. Just the body within the element. The lido is in Penzance, but it is also separate, somewhere else. To enter its space is to leave the town behind. We swim in our nostalgia willingly, removed from the outside, and immersed in more than the water, and to each person I suppose a different time. I cannot help but relate the pool to the nineteen eighties, but to others it would be other numbers that date their image of a lido. I relate it too to the musicologist and the half forgotten, never made trips to the tidal pools. When she visits, I will take her to Penzance.

Johnny Lamb is a recording artist and works under the name 30 Pounds of Bone

Friday, 16 March 2012

Greenbank Lido by Joe Lepper

Copyright Philip Watson (All Rights Reserved)

 The water at Greenbank lido in Street, Somerset, is always a toasty 30 degree Celsius. Temperature is something of a preoccupation during my visits, as I’m in and out of the pool a lot with my two children, who every five minutes alternate playing between the pool and the fountains and slides at the far end of the lido. One minute I’m luxuriating in the cosy water, the next cold and wrapped in a towel while watching my kids dive in and out of giant water spouts.

When I moved to Street from Brighton six years ago I discovered my new home was blessed with not one but two swimming pools. While the indoor pool run by a council contractor serves its purpose it is Greenbank, the lido built by the shoemaking Clarks dynasty who are still based in Street, which is the real draw for swimmers and families.

There’s barely an inch of the village that The Clarks family have not either owned, currently own or have some kind of say in its running. They built my son’s primary school, own the fields that are dotted between the houses, which they in turn either still own or at least used to. The discount retail park in the village centre still bears their name and the distribution centre and headquarters of their shoe empire dominates the local labour market. 

Photo by Joe Lepper

I’m a little uncomfortable with one company controlling so much of my life, but I can’t deny this millionaire family of Quakers have splashed their cash well at times, in particular Alice Clark who created Greenbank in 1937. Part of Alice’s motivation for developing the pool for local people was her background as a suffragette and campaigner for women’s rights. At the time the men and boys of street, many of whom used to work for her family, used to swim naked in the River Brue, which separates Street from its more bohemian neighbours in Glastonbury. With women effectively excluded from this nude, post work dip, she decided to plough some of the family gold into a place where they could swim.

It was gifted to the village after completion and Greenbank remains a charitable trust to this day, receives a grant from the local parish council which ensures the spirit of Alice Clark lives on by giving local people a nice discount on season tickets.

It is the key place for young people to meet and the focus for family life in Street from May to September. “When’s the outdoor pool opening,” says my eldest son regularly during the winter months. 

Copyright Philip Watson (All Rights Reserved)
 Of those lidos that remain many are in the urban south-east and London, but this is a prime example of a well used rural lido that as soon as the temperature gets anywhere above 18 degrees becomes packed. Even when it’s colder there are still regular swimmers among its snug ripples. We use it even more as recession bites and family life gets more expensive. We only live around the corner from it so its no trouble on a warm Saturday afternoon in June to march down there loaded down with our season ticket, towels and snacks.

As well as being near to us, its location within Street offers a constant reminder of it heritage and rural setting. To one side cows and sheep graze in an adjacent field and to the other side is the High Street and headquarters of Clarks, complete with the giant, red brick chimney of this shoe family’s old factory, high above the family fun below.

Joe Lepper is a freelance journalist. For more information visit his website here He also co-edits the music website Neonfiller

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

TOOTING LIDO by Jenny Landreth

I was sitting in the sauna at Tooting Lido in the middle of January thinking about death. Swimming in water that’s hovering around the 3 degree mark can do that, and that’s why I was in the sauna, to bring some semblance of feeling back to my post-swim scalding-cold lobster skin. ‘Swim’ is a generous description at this temperature; if there was one word for ‘wade, screech, mad paddle’ I’d use that. I’d just done six widths, about 200m, which is a tiny swim as they go; if you’re a Tooting Lido regular you’ll shrug like ‘so what?’ Regulars try to do that, to be neither impressed nor unimpressed, to remove the competitive element that might otherwise tempt people to push themselves, because guess what, ice water is not really the place for experimenting with your personal boundaries. If you’re not a cold water swimmer, I can tell you that doing 200m in 3 degrees makes me either a goddess or so hard as to be unnatural and either way, I’m not to be messed with.

It wasn’t just the freezing water that bought me to things mortal. This sauna has all the styling of a communal coffin circa 1977; it’s a dark, pine box, hot enough to be on its way to hell, with stepped benches that get hotter the higher you sit. The door handle sometimes falls off and I’ve often joked with fellow swimmers about being locked in there, heating to death (I’m also available for parties). 

Drawing by Darren Hayman

But today I’m sitting here alone, on the top bench, not yet lightly sweating, thinking about Dr Andy. His death had been announced on the lido’s various social media feeds and a more conventional printed note pinned on the board by the winter entrance to the pool, where I’d signed in. Dr Andy was a great big man who’d celebrated his 90th birthday here in autumn last year, the old king of the lido, much loved and respected in the way that clever, dry, humorous kings are. When there were two walking sticks by the steps, you knew that Dr Andy was in the water somewhere. He had his own rules of cold swimming (we all do), like he never did lengths until the water was 10 degrees; I love the way he described the temperature of the water in winter: ‘it’s either cold, or fucking cold’ an observation given more bite by the fact he wasn’t a sweary type. I’d never passed more than a few daily sentences with him, but still felt his loss keenly, so I can only imagine how sad his close friends and family must feel to lose such a man. I was thinking, too, blimey, he must have swum a lot of lengths in his ninety years. I was thinking of how many I’d swum in comparison: a drop in the ocean, even for a swimming obsessive who, like a reverse-witch, can’t pass over a body of water without contemplating whether I could swim it.

Tooting Lido is my home pool, the one I would swim in above all others. Its history is well documented; it’s an iconic pool, over 100 years old; it’s huge, and it’s cold even in the middle of summer. But big and unheated has advantages, not least that even on the sunniest days, when every square inch of ground is covered in bodies, there is often enough room in the 90 metre un-laned pool to get a decent swim in, if you can ignore the milky quality of water + suncream that reduces visibility and tastes like swimming in Impulse. I swim here year round, even on snowy days when I get out acting like I’ve done something majestic.

When you walk in, there laid out before you, is a massive blue slab of water, bigger than any you’ve ever seen, unless you’ve seen a bigger one. So big it reflects the sky, so big it has its own weather system. Tip #1: don’t put your hands in to feel the water temperature. Trust me, it’s cold. There are two choices to change: either privately in one of the little outdoor cubicles, when you can hang your hoodie over knot holes in the wood. (You’ll want to take pics, they look cute, you’re only allowed to do that ‘out of season’.) Or communally, in a concrete bunker where the floor is perennially cold and wet. (You won’t want to take pics in here, it’s a bit grim.)
Photo by hilry_Jennings under creative commons license.

I guarantee that when you get in the water, you’ll do shrieking, pull your stomach in and stretch your arms up, as if making yourself thinner and taller warms the water. It’s un-laned, so requires a little bit of swimming etiquette and vigilance –there have been times when the only two people in the water still manage to crash into each other (sorry bout that). The width of the pool – 30m – is as long as some pools get, and the deep end can look forebodingly distant. The water is fully chlorinated, but doesn’t feel or smell like it, it’s something to do with UV, apparently.

Along each side of the pool are afore-mentioned cubicles, and a shaky wooden structure that offers a bit of cover if it’s raining. There’s a few sun-trap benches that get quickly colonised by wise people who know which way the sun moves. (Yeah, sure, everyone knows which way the sun moves, but not everyone is quick enough to grab a bench.) There’s a big fountain at the shallow end (not architecturally uplifting, but reminiscent of the seaside in the 1950s even if that’s way before your time) and a café that isn’t great (how difficult would it be to serve porridge? I don’t even like porridge, but cold water swimming makes you disproportionately hungry.) There’s a big grassy bit at the back that gets clogged with double buggies and territory-marking blankets on a sunny day, and a paddling pool full of women standing ankle-deep in children pee, staring into space wishing they could be in the big pool. Apple trees have been espaliered along the back fence, a nice touch which echoes the community-minded ethos of the pool. 
Photo by hilry_Jennings under creative commons license.

You can get leaves down your costume, but you don’t pay extra for that. You can get tan lines swimming, and you don’t pay extra for that, either. The train rattles past sometimes, the clouds scuttle, the wind ruffles the water. I recommend it, it’s lovely, and I apologise in advance if I bump into you.

I leave the sauna, that January day, and wince-walk back over the gritted paving slabs to my changing cubicle, my feet sensitive to every tiny pebble, my skin now an attractive mottled red. Sometimes when I come out of the sauna I jump back into the pool for a plunge, like you might blanche a pan of green beans under the tap to stop them cooking. As I said, everyone has their own rules. Today I can’t be bothered, I want to keep a hold of every bit of this heat, wrap it up in my layers, quick. Of course, Dr Andy never came into the sauna, he was proper hard, a phrase he’d have never used to describe himself; lots of the originals still prefer a cold shower after their swim, and I’m now a soft Southern pansy. It’s trying to snow. I’ll be back tomorrow, I think, I love swimming in snow. That’s how my thought process goes: I’m not doing that. I’m doing that. I must never do that again. I’ll do that again tomorrow. Dr Andy kept doing it up until a few days before he died, 90 and a bit. And that, I think, would suit me just fine. 

Jenny Landreth has her own blog Swimming Round London  where she trys out a different London pool each week and writes about it.

Darren Hayman is releasing an instrumental album about Britain's open air swimming pools this summer and on it will be a tune entitled 'Tooting Bec'. 

There was an error in this gadget
There was an error in this gadget