Good fences make good neighbours.

During Easter weekend my neighbour had his fence mended; three panels were out leaving my garden unsecured. Since moving to this house his fences were rotten but I never bothered to worry about them as I know the cost of putting up new panels. I always rush housework and the mission was to get the washing on the line without my neighbour seeing me and starting a chat. He is very opiniated and we have nothing in common.

He told me that whilst the two electricians from his mosque were installing the panels on Sunday he had plucked Sycamore seedlings from my overgrown lawn. He then started on again about his long argument since 1986 with the borough council about the huge Sycamore tree three doors down and how its roots will destroy our houses and about the tree next door to him which is the child of the massive tree. He then told me he’d seen a sapling in my garden. I replied to his queried face that I was growing a tree for a shady spot. He repeated the story of tree roots and I emphasised that we’d all be dead and gone before the roots meet our back doors. Rightfully he said that the houses would be spoilt. The houses were built by the Conservative Land Society in 1860 so are due for demolition to clear land for high rises. I’ll be dead and gone. New householders who can’t afford Hackney prices have moved this way and expanded the old Victorian two up two downs then painted them Gentrification Matt Black.

My neighbour looked crushed at not being able to force me to uproot my cherished baby tree. I told him his new fence was rather smart and “Job done”. I will never see his face through broken slats so that is a bonus for me.

Two events made me disrespect him; well, three if I include the saga of the Sycamore tree. One time he told me to rake up the leaves from the afore-mentioned tree from my lawn and another time he returned an Eid card I’d posted through his letter box because he, a Moslem, previously Christian, does not have any truck with Eid cards. That told me.

Yesterday morning the very first thing I did even before cleaning my teeth was to go out back and pull up my Sycamore sapling. That was not easy. Its roots were as strong as Hollyhock roots. I then plucked half a dozen dandelion blooms, put them in the brown bin and set about assembling my new non-electric lawn mower.

Years ago at another address where I grew from conkers four horse-chestnut trees and from an interesting twig, a cherry tree the miserable next door man of the house told me I should repair our adjoining fence. It was a command. I hadn’t any money for such extravagance and credit cards hadn’t been invented. He never knew that his wife used one of the gaps in the broken fence to bring me home-made Indian curries and sweets. I once sent over scones to the family and the nasty big man son sent them back because they weren’t sweet enough.

I had to do the neighbourly and honourable thing and repair the old old 1930 mildew grey fence or get a whole new one. I asked a man who was desperate for my affections. I went with him to buy the panels. I kept sweet. He built that fence on a promise.

The lady over the back pushed a bunch of chrysanthemums from her flower-packed garden over my back wall and fence. I caught her to say thank you and she then shocked me by saying that I should Creasote the fence between her and myself. Another command. The fence was wartime rotten. She said it separated our gardens and so I should keep it good. I did as I was told until she died and then noone cared about her garden or her fence. Her ancient brother who lived with her and who made model soldiers and who served at Scapa Flow went jogging over the back by the riding school and got kicked in the head by a horse. He never went into the garden again nor looked over the back fence but went for a daily pint to the local pub and swayed all the way home.

Good fences make good neighbours.

Meters Red

I was bought up in a cold house post WW2 with the one room warmed by a coal fire and the bath filled once a week by a gas fuelled hot water geyser.

We were an eight children, two parent family. I never had a pillow until I married and sleeping under coats was usual.

I moved out and into the fumes of a marital home spread by paraffin heat which dried my work-day tights.

The lap of luxury was the coming of central heating.

Yesterday I sucked eggs and listened to youngsters describing how from April 1st they’ll cook rice and pasta in gas-saving ways and how baked potatoes are things of the past.

What did we come to to?

Time of The Month.

Well things have to be said. International Women’s Day to me was a wash-out and a tasked one to avoid offerings at ITV and the like with Lorraine Kelly and her pretend chums. BBCRadio 3 did their usual women composers and here and there Mary Beard and other persuaders in culture turned up fervently. I received one day greeting and engaged with just one self-identified and fitting my description feminist. I reread all the rehashed writings about very very wealthy articulate Pankhursts and her ilk doing their best for their domestic staff in some future universe and dipped into propped-up and wheeled out Women’s stuff in any diaspora.

Disappointed in Leytonstone.

The world did not stop. Other things took over. Opportunities to explore womankind fell back in the queue overshadowed by necessary Windrush and Ukraine attention, artists continued their black lives matter awareness and a Colonial mistress got Covid.

It prevailed; that nonsense that any tit-bearing person was by definition a woman and therefore on the feminist side and if she/her were black was right on trend.

Life went on the same. My tooth got longer.

Messiah

Up on You tube enjoying some proper soul music in the warm waiting for a Sunday telly drama.

I’ve been desk-top researching all through damn Covid the women and wives of Transatlantic slavers for they were accessories to the crimes, were molls, bedfellows and benefited greatly from the wealth.

Today at RAGWORKS I created

Mary Ann MacCormac

of Northern Irish and African-American descent who married Walter of the Guinea Company who himself was documented in Parliamentary papers as being involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. She lived and bred from 1830-1865 and often travelled from Sierra Leone with her two brothers to Belfast to her rich uncle.

I chose her because I had researched the movers and shakers in C18th “Freedom Land” and I have a close connection to a descendant of a revered family.

Mary Ann was the second wife of a man twenty two years her senior.

Just a girl.

Black History Month Waltham Forest.

Today with a group of septuagenarians I visited the Black History Month exhibition of thirteen A3 mounted photographs of UK based Black Artisans. Is that all there is?

It’s in Chingford Library E4 foyer having been at the prestigious in some’s eyes William Morris Gallery . The Chingford Library foyer is easily missable.

We chose to go to whitelands because after viewing ( a ten minute affair) we could go chomp cod n chips over the road for six quid. If you’re gonna celebrate BHM do it in style.

The photographs are wonderful. You need a good strong back to get down and read some captions. Nine of the subjects are men.

We learnt that Waltham Forest is funding the Black Artisans’ Project and that there’s a film and we hope it’s moving objects.

We chatted and referenced Alex at Iroko Theatre as stem for roots learning.

it’s a free touring exhibition.

Cod dinner is £6.

Born To Campaign

Just trawled the internet and found at WordPress Claire and Len Weiss’ 2014 edited biography of Manny Weiss and had already read about textile craftsperson and political activist Rita Weiss (1921-2011) from the Morning Star 2011.

I am a dedicated Women’s Heritage Champion and am aghast at my lack of knowledge about Rita Weiss: I know author and community activist, Claire Weiss. Claire sent me notice today about her hosting the launch of a book dedicated to Rita called “Born To Campaign”.

I learn on.

Community art yawn

I had my usual cynicism about how a borough blessed and financed art thingumygig down the road could be. Especialy since the email to join didn’t work and no reminder was sent out. A tweet was the heads up. I dressed for the sun then dashed out just as the rain went into half time Afterwards i wanted to go buy sprats in Forest Gate but the rain was too much and my back was cold with spiteful sky tears.

The art was good.

Amongst the eighteen women participants were a cleaner and a dinner- lady.

Finally some working class salt of the earth taking part.

Patchwork in Lockdowns.

Finished my last lockdown RAGWORKS quilt today; a double bed sized one full of religion for someone’s June birthday. I’m creaming my hand-sewing hands to rid my fingers of hard punctured skin and nurturing my skin renewal. Creating with textiles during isolation was uplifting what with all the colours and textures and cutting squares with big sharp scissors. I made a dozen quilts using refreshed donated cloth even school uniform tartan and London Ambulance gear with its badges. I doubled up thin leopard pattern scarves and threw away nothing of beauty.

In my wardrobe I have a soft baby quilt but because of Covid restrictions I can’t yet gift it to the new parents. Often I recycle my art wall-hangings by deconstructing the work to re-use the material especially since the lockdowns reduced my donations from locals.

I recently took part in three community stitching projects. The deadline came and true to form the facilitators dropped the participants as soon as the project was over. Talk about not sustaining conversations. Always happens but I still commit to doing community projects by Zoom these days because I’m alive and need to show it.

I have had a RAGWORKS exhibition up since the start of the first UK lockdown in March 2020. Noone sees it except pupils doing maths through PE in the school hall/ dining room. It’s called “People of Colour” and preceded the “Black Lives Matter” movement So relevant but so tucked away.

Onwards and upwards and maybe some street parties on June 21st.