I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to trek down and take some pics of this marvellous addition to south London’s armoury, (yeah watch out you cocky north bankers with your houmous bars and glamorous west end if you get too umpity we’ve got our own armoured division namely this T-34, that pink elephant with a castle on it’s back from just down the road and if you really get above your station we’ll swing round the big guns on HMS Belfast and get all 1944 on your a…… sorry were was I ,oh yes Tanks.
Just off the old Kent road just after the fly over on the northside of the road is this T-34 tank it’s a bit of local curiosity. I think some bloke bought it and put on this patch of land (as some blokes do) the council complained and tried to move it but it turns out to be his land. Anyway it get’s tagged from time to time and numpties like me take pictures of it etc.
Up close it’s really quite impressive and if it didn’t represent some thing terrible you could go on about its sculptural form etc.
This T-34 really shows the power of the tank on our imagination, from the very start they were almost mythical creatures, early cartoons show them like monsters or landships. One of tanks early proponents JFC Fuller was an acolyte of magician Aleister Crowley. Their mere appearance has cleared riot filled streets and stricken with fear protesters world wide. It’s no surprise this is one of the most recognised photos ever.
Indeed of all tanks the T-34 is one of the most mythical and most paradoxical. Because basically it gave the world freedom from fascist terror (well the men and women who drove it did with some helps form lots of other Russians and some American and English and Polish, and French and Indians and……..)
But then t-34 and its' descendents then spent 50 years being used to suppress Eastern Europe. Like I say a paradox.
Even with a rather timid cat living underneath it in the drizzle and the gloom of a Southwark autumn afternoon this tank did seem t be brooding as if the engines would cough back into life and the turret would slowly traverse as the tracks clanked forward.
By way of tune here's a live version of Tank Park Salute by Billy Bragg Mp3 live in Austrailia in 1992.