Paris, Shetland, Stratford Circus.

loving ”” tales of a young woman in Paris.

Not impressed by “Hattie” on Beeb 4 tonight.  Remember Peggy Mount?

Switched over to S4C. I know! Slow non-dynamic docu programme about native communities in North America and Canada. Fashion to do docus up North right now. Hardly ever get a woman’s prespective. Watched some of The Beeb 2 “Shetland Diaries”. You’d think the Shetlands were uninhabited. Hardly shown the natives at all. They indoors watching TV same as me, eh? Ah well over to “American Dad”  and singing with Agewell in Stratford Circus tomorrow to look forward to.


With the generous treat from Sky, I attended Leicester Square Empire for the showing of the new part series coming on Sky Atlantic called “Boardwalk Empire”. Got there and was treated like a royal from entrance to exit. Scantily clad attendants dressed in 1920s show girl mode ushered us along to fat wide seats. On those seats were welcome bags full of pure old fashioned lemon drink, sweets and popcorn. For an hour in front of the screen was a band playing live music from that time. All lovely.

The drama is all about American gangsters, prohibition, corruption etc etc same ole stuff we’ve seen a trillion times but it was GOOD.The camera work is amazing and draws you into the screen to close-ups where you can see every line, every nipple, every piece of white skin. Very male very white very full of social history touching on immigration, whisky distilling, women as nobodies, fish as it used to be, Temperance societies, vicious gun battles, Ku Klux Klan, rigged voting, canny cops. What is exciting is that every so often a new character comes in and what with the costumes and the Sophie Tucker music it is all so watchable.

Sumptuous sums it all up. Was a bit irritated by the typical roles for women in films about the twenties and the gangs warfare i.e the whore, the battered wife, the strangely wigged Cher look-alike angst-ridden martyr wife, the religious old churchie. Didn’t they have common or garden fish-wives down at the docks in those days? Not quite the glamour, eh? Lots of tits in your face as well.  What sells Mrs!

For Sky customers another new free  channel hits us:- Sky Atlantic on Feb 1st.  Yep! I’ll be there.

A free and memorable evening. Not everyone likes Sky though, do they?

issue 3 for in and around Wapping

Mon  17th Jan   free corridor between Canada Walk and Jubilee Walk. Sadie Rowlands ceramics exhibition (all week).

                            free    Lightbox Gallery, Canada Walk. Balint’s innovative art works. (all month).

Tues   18th Jan   free    Rich Mix Ben Jones exhibition ” Evolution – Revolution” (to 24th Feb) First international art exhibition at newly refurbished Gallery

Wed    19th Jan  free   11-1pm   Calling everyone over 50. Textiles and printing classes for free Methodist Church Richmond Rd Dalston (Wapping to Dalston 15 mins).

Fri        21st Jan   free  1-4pm drop in. London Met Archives. Reel London Film Screening. North London in archive film.

Tues     25th Jan  free   Hermitage Wharf (16 Wapping High St) volunteers training day. Get involved. Phone in advance.

Advance notice. Sat 12th Feb  free 11-4pm Women’s Library event W I Crafts Day.

flicks again…. at the Pheonix

Made it at last to the the newly refurbished Pheonix Cinema in East Finchley. The place was buzzing, welcoming, warm and tiny.  It was a day of free films entitled

 “A Century Of Cinemas 1950”.

The heritage officer spoke to us before the curtain went up for the two films :

-“Momma Don’t Allow”(1956) and

Brando in “The Wild One” (1953)                     and at the end the National Anthem played as in days of yore and we had to exit through the fire door as was done then! Ice cream only £1.70.

Next freebie which has to be booked on the phone, which is hardly staffed is, (yawn) “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”. It’s the experience what counts.

The Lavender Hill Mob is doing its rounds too. Brilliant film.

A Story , A Story

          “You can take the bowl.” Brenda bent down and picked up the sudsy bowl from the floor. Emmanuel stuck his chewing stick in his mouth to get rid of some of the oxtail strands between his teeth. By the end of the week the meat in the hot pepper soup would be much more tender. On that same Friday night Brenda would go without the dinner for she’d already counted out the meat portions. Her husband would enjoy sucking on the bones. He’d made a racket sucking and scrunching on the two bones tonight. Anyway he was satisfied so that made all the difference. Brenda tipped the hand-wash water over the two plates in the bed-sit sink. She made sure the water filled the ground rice saucepan and wooden spoon so that in the morning they would be easy to scour. The ITN news was on. She’s noticed that Emmanuel hadn’t lit the paraffin stove . The paraffin was low and thankfully it was still warm in the two rooms because the gas stove had been on. The pepper in the soup had been fiery too so that would keep them both warm for an hour.

Emmanuel looked up as Brenda opened the curtain which served as a screen between the dismally lit lounge and the back room which housed a single bed, a small dressing table with a mirror, a big brown wardrobe and the Belfast sink. In front of the wardrobe was  a 1940s brown table. Brenda’s grandmother had one very similar when she had lived in Crouch End.  On that table were Emmanuel’s student files, catalogues of office supplies, old socks, folded shirts all too small, his Afro comb, the pot of Vaseline, and between all this could be seen the old plastic tablecloth. The day had yet to come when Brenda would perhaps tidy and interfere with the piles of his former life. She’d already peeped into the drawer of the dressing table and seen a woman’s brush and a pair of “American Tan” panty hose. There would be a day for exploring.

“You know what? You need to get clothes that fit you, to show your shape!” Brenda ignored the statement from her live-in-sin boyfriend.  He often said the same and over the five months he had never bought her even a pair of tights for work let alone something costing over ten shillings. It may have been a prelude to making love, a trick to make her coy and approachable but at this time she knew his belly was battling with the swallowed whole balls of ground rice. Just in conversation she answered knowing it would lead to nothing:_ “Yeah, Christine’s dress was nice the other night. Did you see the way the pleats swung open and the white showed through? Panels I think they were, not pleats.”

“It’s all fashion. What was the post today?”

Brenda reached behind the clock on the old marble mantelpiece. Just this one and a leaflet from Jehovah’s Witnesses.”  Emmanuel clicked his fingers and Brenda gave him the airletter. He opened it, read it, laughed and put it under his armchair.

“Do you want some Guiness?” Brenda went towards the gramaphone cabinet.

Emmanuel carried on looking at the TV. “We can share one bottle.”

“How do they size you in the shop?”

“Oh. I’m a size 14/16. Depends on the material. I’ll get a glass for me”, and she went through the curtain to the draining board.

                            Friday came after a week of wind and rain. Brenda went straight home with her £11 pay packet. She knew Emmanuel picked up his civil service salary cheque today as well and that in the evening he’d probably join up with his bachelor friends in Walthamstow to play cards until the next morning. She would arrange to have her weekly bath in the flat downstairs. If the woman were out, she’d read a book, wash her body at the sink, and go to bed about ten.

Emmanuel came in, put a brown paper parcel on the settee, watched the 6 o’clock news and waited for his dinner . Brenda brought out two steaming dishes: one with a perfect dome of ground rice, eniough for one, and the other plate with the last of the oxtail soup. She placed them on the pouffe and returned to the kitchen to bring in the bowl of water for hand washing. “Are you not eating?” Emmanuel asked as he shook off the warm water from his right hand. “Oh no. I had some chips earlier.” He began to roll a clump of ground rice in his hand.  Brenda sat next to him in silence.

                The meal was over and Emmanuel signalled to the brown package on the settee. Brenda had quite forgotten it was there. “Heh, heh! Try on that for size”. Brenda picked up the package and opened it. “Oh!” She saw the green dress, the nice bottle green she had always preferred. “Shall I try it?” Without waiting for an answer full of chewing stick, Brenda went behind the curtain, took off her nightdress which she always wore indoors to keep her work clothes clean and put on the heavy dress over her bra-less and knicker-less body. She went to parade in front of Emmanuel.

“Look at your breasts swinging around. You should have on a bra!”

“I know. it will look better when I’ve got my bra on. It fits though. Look at the pleats. They open and show the white.”

“Heh, heh. Take it off and wrap it well”.

Brenda did just that and never wondered at all as to why it needeed wrapping again. She did as she was told. She could sense an irritation in her man’s voice. Best to keep quiet.

At about eight Emmanuel had on his best jumper. “Remember I don’t have my keys.”

Brenda looked at him from her chair. He was handsome and the dusky pink of the jumper she’d bought him last Christmas went well against his dark chocolate- coloured skin. She thought of Soyinka’s poem “Telephone Conversation” in which the poet described black skin in terms of chocolate. She knew never to read it to Emmanuel: he would dismiss it all as rubbish. The door slammed shut and he was gone into the gambling night.

                    Brenda knew the woman downstairs was out with her baby son. She had many sisters so perhaps she had gone visiting. The hallway smelt of her “Havoc” perfume so she must have left a little after Emmanuel. As she came back into the room she locked the door and placed the toilet roll on the armchair. The brown package was gone. She took up the ash tray and emptied it into the bin under the sink. The pouffe was askew and as she bent to put it aside she saw the airletter sticking out from under the chair. Brenda sat down heavily on Emmanuel’s chair and slid out the airletter.

                “My darling Chukwu,

It has been a long time. You will come and we will marry. You promised me a dress, my sweetheart. I am the same size as that English lady you live with in London. I saw the photo. When you come bring the dress and my sisters need handbags. How is your studies? You will graduate this year. My parents send their regards to their son-in-law. Don’t forget my dress, o!

With my love, your fiancee, Josephine Ngozi Emeaka  of Owerri .x x x x x xx x x xxx”

           Brenda folded the airletter exectly as she had found it and popped it back under his chair. She had no energy to search for the package. Perhaps it was in the wardrobe.

             1973 The Biafran war had been over for a long time yet Emmanuel’s relatives still showed her all the tanks on the runway and the tanks in the bush, all grown over with grass and weeds. One of the village women was sitting next to Brenda, stroking her arms and looking at her fingers. She must have been a little younger than Brenda. “Heh, heh, my sister. Thank you for helping Chukwu buy me a nice dress.  I know you tried it on for me. We are the same size. You know I am to be married to him. Keep him well, O!” And as she laughed Brenda saw her gappy teeth. She said not one word.

Up Your Street 5

Launching Up Your  Street 5.  Remember I share information about  free events for SENIORS.  Waltham Forest is just not supplying and I am not the only one to see that . So getting around to rich ole Greenwich I search wider.

But first some words about the five Olympic and Paralympic host boroughs…………….

5 Boroughs. First Glance

In Waltham Forest we see trees

canopies over Lea Bridge Road

stretching to Hackney’s world of ponds

and rivers, tower blocks and parks

joined geographically to Greenwich

laid-out with majestic buildings of heritage

which covet the river.

Tower Hamlets in glass and light

soars to the skies rebuilding her scenery

and describes spices in markets.

Her sister, Newham resurfaces her neglected pavements

and builds new venues for culture and fitness.

At the pictures

Fela. Stratford Picture House £13. I am happy I never paid more. I predicted it would be bums, anti-colonial and nothin’ new then. I tried. I’d rather watch Beyonce bouncing and at least smiling at the punters as she danced. The production was streamed by satellite from the National Theatre. It was all so been here before and sensationalist. After an hour of tedious dance routines which you can catch on any music channel, then on came Fela’s mother full of dramatic angst. By that time I’d been sick of getting up every five minutes for selfish late-comers that I thought I’d just go.  I know it’s the flicks but it was a special showing so you’d think we’s all be on time and ready to start together. You’d think. What was the National Theatre thinking of? Where was the intellectual clout?

Was so ashamed of Leytonstone High Road on my way on the 257 to the Stratford Cultural Quarter. The Olympics Park is progressing but next door, up the road, pubs have shut, shops are dismal or boarded and the whole gruesome road needs an uplift. It will never come, will it?

Was so happy to get in just 2 mins before Corrie started. Yeh!

Went on the 277 bus from Well Street just before St Joseph’s Hospice over to the London Museum at Docklands. The river was sparkling with the reflection of the lights off the Orange Bridge. Felt the high security going on there. Good. Attended the London Short Film Festival with 14 short films. Latecomers! Never seen the like. So between their silhouettes I enjoyed so many films and especially “The Hook”. It was quite surreal. Others were equally of a high calibre.  Again following  Tuesday night’s experience the acting was superb.

Bumped into KG Lester the Hackney poet who runs 2 sessions of poetry appreciation every week at Clapton Library, Hackney. Small world.

Watched at full blast twice “Down From The Mountain” on Skyarts showcasing the music which was used for the soundtrack of “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”

London Short Film Festival at Stratford Picture House E15, tonight.

Excellent. Food for thought. Well worth the £7 entrance for seniors. Superior films. Class A acting, film work and productions. Could have sat there all night; well the Picture House is comfy and warm. I’d used my promotional code off the internet to enjoy an half price pizza at Pizza Express downstairs where those table attendants are a credit to the people who slog for the daily National wage.

So!  the films… out of  “Reunion, Half Term, The Loop, Lost Paradise, The Block, Promise, Knock Off and Baby ” I could not choose a favourite. I loved “Half Term” because of the pace and how it smashed our predictions.”Lost Paradise” was supreme. The acting is amazing and the whole  story glides along in tragedy. No-one ever  smiles. Loads of easily recogniseable urban streets and close- ups of  London Asian faces.(pretty rare on telly anyway. Don’t even consider Eastenders. There are few actors on that cf. Corrie).Every film was pretty grimy. I am sick of urban this and that but we enter 2011 now so who knows what turns up, what’s in the making digitally right now. It’ll be whatever the right -on funders want. “Baby” was a true shocker. Grimy pick up, grimy sordid sex despite the flowing hair and gorgeous camera work. Such a twist at the end.Very good.

Of course the films denanded some analysis because of the way they were billed:- “On Road: Black and Asian Stories. ” Above all we were entertained at the pictures and no amount of intellectual challenge can stop the crisp-packets and sweet-wrappers being attacked by the rats in their darkness. We applauded spontaneously. Truly deserved, y’all!  And “The Loop” was so clever. The guy was performing poetry on the rotten streets. He was rapping without the beats and the clutching of his crutch. His anger was easy to hear. He was Hamlet. Nuff said.