I never sew RAGWORKS unless my world is in order. I never paint a picture unless my area is cleared and I certainly never solve a maths problem until I’ve done the washing up. So it was over these past months that I was house-sitting and cat-minding during others’ vacations. I was in strange surroundings and there was never enough washing up to get done. I was floundering in space. I was unsteady in myself so if someone had said “And how are you in yourself?” I’d have said, “Unsettled”.
Today the labourers are in and in and out with wheelbarrows and dirt and precious earth as I have a rotten fence downed and new fences erected. One part of the boundary was enough for me to fly a red for danger flag. But the cats still walked along the rim and made a small vibration. My solicitor warned me that I’d pay thousands if that wall so much as stroked a human on its way down. My house is in order and the men are controlling the unknown outside so I feel ready to write. The word “controlling” has enough weights dragging along.
Last night in the darkness I was coming home. A man sneezed very loudly. A young woman in the dark turned and gave him a bad look. He was behind her and quickened his pace. “The next one you’ll catch!” he hollered at the poor slip of a thing. I decided to walk on the other side of the road but with a protective eye on someone young enough to be my grandchild. And yes, I would have run my hulk over the road.to protect her from any danger. The man turned his head to me and by his stumbling I knew he was drunk. He disappeared. I realised he was urinating behind a car. She was ahead and safe. I was not frightened but worried about being bothered on my doorstep.
I unlocked and put on my lights, shut the curtain and remembered similar scenes when I had been truly afraid or truly in charge.
This morning the labourers asked me if I knew the guy taking a refuse bin full of earth from the or my skip. It was the stalking drunk. Hell’s Bell’s. I dealt with him by saying how illegal it is to take from skips. I had a vision of a brick through my window but he did go away and said to the wind, “Must do what the old lady says.” His lanyard and label told me he was “out in the community” and quite harmless to boot.
I and other Up Your Street seniors have joined Waltham Forest Women Taking Back The Streets. We are a seniors’ presence. The group meets regularly. We are sick of being uncomfortable on our streets because of men on street corners, drug-dealing, spitting and making suggestions to us. Their language beats crude and we should not have to endure it. We should be able to go anywhere in the area and own the pavement too. We here really refers to young women: Old women are invisible except on pension day.
High Street Seniors is a seniors’ group walking at dusk. We’ve been around since London 2012 and so have our legs so it’s harder to walk. It’s enough for many now to do the tunnel walk at the Museums up Kensington. Our mission is the same as the intentions of the founding young women and men at the Waltham Forest organisation which features at Facebook. Our mission is to reclaim our streets.
But this drug-dealing is at every turn. Every day I see in the gutters drug paraphernalia. I suggest that in the main the men sitting at cafés are backward. The shame is when the men have schooled in the Borough and not internalised anything about sexism and equality. They must have truanted that day. The rest are just backward and have not sussed out that women in the UK in the main have come forward leaps and bounds and no longer are invisible or silent. As long as they are in inclusive sects they will never change either.
Laws and policing have done much to change the way people talk to each other and how they behave. In their own homes of course people are racist and sexist and everything else to make themselves bloated on superiority. Not all learn that there is a boundary between indoors and out.
By women and some men sharing their disgust at what goes on on street kerbs and corners then a wider public can join in and understand why women need to group together to get changes made or enforcement active.
Many seniors do not leave their houses after 7pm. That cannot be right. Many children do not enjoy their journey to and from school. I have seen a grown man leching after a girl of eight. I did not phone the police because I believed they’d do nothing. I was angry with myself. Why was the child alone on the street? Why shouldn’t she be? Erghh at myself.
About forty years ago there was an incident where a bus driver would not take on board a young woman who did not have enough fare money. She was afterwards raped as she took a short cut in a park to get home. I was always in awe of my brother saying “Why shouldn’t she feel okay to walk through a park at night?”
Having heard that, thank goodness today for Oyster cards and credit/debit cards so that the lack of cash is not a prelude to a rape.
Both my grandmothers said the word “bitch” and on Coronation Street, the women use that word thanks to the script-writer. I never use that word and never call anyone “darlin'” or any word that denotes over-familiarity. We all have to watch our p’s and q’s. It’s all about mutual respect.
We have a long way to go.