The Pamper Shop



 The Pamper Shop  finding free and cheap feel-good fixes for seniors in 5 London 2012 boroughs.
Fri 13th May  free  2-4pm.  A talk entitled ‘Control and Relieve Stress’  at City Business Library.(Moorgate)
                                 Book on 02073321812
Low cost Counselling sessions with only a six week maximum waiting time!
                            At the Centre for Better Health. 1a Darnley Rd. Hackney
                            Weekly same time and day 50 mins for a year. phone 02089853570. The centre is welcoming and clean.

Music recitals and High Street Seniors

Wed   4th May  free  1.00-1.40pm  St John’s Church, Stratford. Dolce Wind Quintet music recital.
                                 (next week, Cyril Bacon’s organ recital and something every Wednesday!)
                                  free    11-1pm Richmond Road Methodist Church. Hackney. Songololo- Feet
                                                                                                  is back making items with plastic crochet
Mon  9th May
                        free                  High Street Seniors….(walks for seniors in the dark to reclaim the streets) 
                                  Meet Wapping Station   5.30pm (Dalston Junction 5.10pm)
                       (not yet dark but we’ll walk along Wapping High Street to the Memorial Garden
                        then go to Raines Hall (6.45-9pm) for the launch of “Piety and Piracy”
                        by esteemed senior author, Madge Darby
                        and then return together to the High Street in the dark
                        and see Tower Bridge and all the lights.
                        Good shoes on as the streets are cobbled!
                                  We are jolly good company. 

Ceramics, nibbling fish and Fora

1a Darnley Road, Hackney is where it’s all happening. It’s the Centre for Better Health, welcoming, smart, clean, full of courses and centrally located almost opposite the Hackney Town Hall.

Maria is the ceramics teacher and today the first class went ahead. Excellent.

In Hanlon Rd off Brick Lane is City Beach, a parlour for massage and body treatments and Garra Ruffa fish -nibbling. You get your feet de-scaled by small fish in a large tank. £18 approx but £9 through Groupon for 15 mins aand £10 for the same at Boom City in Bakers Arms, Leyton High Road, E10.   Nice!

Fora Restaurant in Houndsditch. Just great. Massive tasty Turkish portions.

Free screening of the Wedding at Stratford east Picture House

Double checked. You only get champagne and cake if you pay £10 to watch “The King’s Speech” at 3.45pm

The original advert wasn’t that clear. Thought it was too good to be true.
However bring your own food and even hot food can be eaten in the friendly bar where knives and forks will be supplied. Pizza Express is downstairs and Caribbean food all around plus McDonalds. Bar does a wicked hot chocolate. Enjoy!!!
Seen the Wedding guest list. Be amazed.
“The Kings Speech” is free on Wed May 11th at The Rio in Dalston 2pm and you get cake and tea free too!!

Newham rules!

So tomorrow a FreedomPassful of Waltham Forest seniors are going to Stratford Picture House in Stratford’s Cultural Quarter to watch for free on the big screen from plush comfy seats the Royal Wedding. We can even take our own hot food into the bar and even get cutlery off the fabulous staff who always welcome us, always. We think we’re getting wedding cake and champagne. We are excited, not particularly Royalists but like a good day out.

Had a day of good and bad stuff today. The coffee and cake reading group led by Lydia at Hackney Central Library is always worth the hour. Today’s book was “The Death of Ivan Illyach” by ole Tolstoy. Yep we delved deeply into that one as we tucked into strawberries, cream cake and almond cookies. All good.

Off to Songololo-Feet and learnt to crochet plastic off plastic bags. Absolutely rocking! Enjoyed the quieter group as people are still on holiday.

Went to the Princess Of Wales down Lea Bridge Road for lunch but actually £7 for a baguette is a bit much. Advertised  High Street Seniors for May 9th in Wapping (see events and High Street Seniors later in this busy week).

In the evening I went to Walthamstow Central Library and OMG what a building, Upstairs to the reference library is a treat of polished wooden staircases and banisters. The ceilings are high and elaborately decorated. Lovely. There was a free very very basic workshop about social media and small businesses. I could have come off the street and said “These are the main 5 ways of using your computer to reach out to the millions who might want some of what you’ve got.” Good old Waltham Forest must have paid a packet for a consultant to entertain us. Done and over. Free it was to the public and part of WF libraries and businesses project/enterprise. Check out The Pamper Shop on this blog site to see what the Central Library is offering next!

Met my neighbour up my street whom I’ve spoken to twice in 10 years and we had a good natter and a chuckle when she told me her new neighbours have 9 kids. One end street.

Volunteering Works 2011 in Waltham Forest

This borough eh? You wouldn’t believe that it is one of the 5 London 2012 boroughs . What actually goes on in the green place? The youngsters feel despondent  too. Check out what Josh Ryan had to say on his BBC London 2012 film. if you go to the trouble of making a film about what is not occuring in LBWF then you are serious.

I look for free activities for seniors in all 5 boroughs and woeful are my findings for WF. I have to reach out of the borough and then make sure that WF seniors are actually welcome. It doesn’t impress me at all when for example Newham writes on their flyers  “Newham residents only” . I have to negotiate. I know it’s all to do with funding but WF seniors become refugees travelling just over the border to get  something nice. Ain’t we 5 boroughs all in this together?

Sometimes WF wakes up and realises that we are near the Games time. “Personal Best”, a course which was offered to WF residents to cheer them up, motivate them and let them believe that The Olympics and Paralympic Games were for them and that they would very likely get jobs on the site they’d never actually seen, came and went in all its glory of achievement targets, Individual Plans, and final ceremonies. The course was well-delivered and structured but it was what it was and led to no trumpet fan-fares in the borough .

It returned disguised by funding operators as “Volunteering Works Summer 2011.” And it was hardly  advertised: 70 years olds were stopped in their tracks at Priory Court Community Centre and asked whether they wanted to do a 2 full day a week 10 week hand-writing course for free. Volinteers already in place were asked to pop in to make up the numbers. What a farce. Class in Waltham Forest revived the old Personal Best course and never bothered to re -vamp it in any way despite the fact that we now have The Big Society, a change in funding for social enterprises due to massive public cuts, an unmanageable immigrant influx,  funding having been swiped away from students on  ESOL courses, and digital access as a means of applying for posts and indeed searching for  anything.

Courses such as “Volunteering Works 2011” are aimed at a population seen as deficient in many ways: people with low self-esteem, women who  have childcare responsibilities, non-working mothers, the unemployable unemployed, long-time job-seekers and lately, seniors who are already volunteering. The measurement of success is all down to how the individual raises her/his competency levels regarding writing a CV (used to be so banned in WF) and how successful their self-selling skills are; “soft skills”.And the high achiever may , just may get a look in as a Games Maker in the Games. So not, especially if the applicant has child care responsibilities, little English, mental dysfunction caused by low self-esteem in a society where everything just got harder, more expensive, more worrying. And those sought-after volunteering jobs on the Games site (What  are they?) are unpaid, let’s remember.

I can be as positive as the next flower but that would be going along with an increasingly backward borough whose planners have not nurtured its residents in the run-up to a global event. “Volunteering Works 2011” has landed in the lap of the cynical and those who cannot commit 2 full days a week  to something that leads to nowhere.

So what do you think about Wapping?

“Do you know anything about it?”

There I was in The Water Works in Lea Bridge Road sitting next to Mr Brannigan*, an 84 year old disabled gentleman with clear views about everything from Murdoch to the nearness of London 2012 . He’d invited me to sit on the bench overlooking the sluice gates by Thames Water’s House while he drank his juice and took an hour to eat one Rich Tea biscuit. Mallard ducks and coots swam below us .

“Me? I was born there, wasn’t I?”

        Well, that was calling ‘Housey, housey’ to my ears. I didn’t have to ask questions, like I was practising oral history techniques  a la Hermitage Community Moorings . Ole Brannigan  just rolled on telling me all about how he used to lark about in the steps by the Water Police offices in Wapping High Street and he and his absolutely raggedy mates would fall into the water with all the dirt and the rats of Old Thames. He stressed many times about the starving poor population in the Docks in those days, about how men stole and went to prison in order to eat because there was no ‘social’ then. His mother with six kids sold clothes and shoes ‘on tick’ to her neighbours in order to feed her own  whilst her husband worked all day then spent his time in the many pubs in the area especially Cable Street and The Highway. Dock Road(?) was  dangerous for everyone. Young Brannigan  rarely went to school.

               I told him all about Wapping as it is now. He said, “You know when you’re on the bus and you’re in Wapping cos the bus jumps along on the cobbles!” True that.

          He said, “People were starving in England, in Germany, all over. All the governments knew but did nothing. There was no help. My grandparents from Poland and from Ireland worked like slaves in those days.”

           I can read all about stuff on the internet but to meet a Mr Brannigan is a thing to treasure. He had  smelt the spices in the warehouses of Wapping, said how it pervaded the air on trading days. He told me how the place was noisy all the time and packed with people. Not like now when you come out of the station and neither see, hear nor smell anyone.

             Before I’d reached the Water Works,  Leyton Marshes,  The Princess of Wales and Seymour Park in Leyton which has the Dagenham Brook stagnating through it,  I’d walked through and around  the old and scummy Leyton Industrial Village in Argall Avenue, Leyton. What a dump! I’d seen it in 1985 when it was emerging as the place for small businesses to be. Many men I knew had security jobs there . Students of photography came down to develop deep and avant-garde shots of “decay”. Nice. TRS foods was big there and Sunblest Bread had arrived. Rats swum up and down what may be part of Dagenham Brook. My car mechanic was  established in one of the units. The Water Works was just that and the conservationists hadn’t found the delight of the triangle inside Leyton Marshes, an area inhabited by all sorts of weird people who hid in the cow-parsley. Not a good place to explore alone. The triangle  was a section of railway where three lines passed. All cleaned up now.

 I told Mr Brannigan all about Madge Darby and the Hermitage Community Moorings and the History Society of Wapping. His heart ached for the place but his legs were a nuisance. He’d never heard of the word “Wappea”.

 Respect to senior seniors  who tell it like it was.

* not his real name. He wouldn’t tell me.

Walking forwards

Bravo to the High Street Seniors who ignored the rumbling clouds and went to Round Chapel in the lighning strikes. The walk was curtailed to 20 minutes  by rain dollops.

Monday May 9th we can go to Wapping Station for 5.30pm, walk the walk (along Wapping High Street from the station to Hermitage Wharf which many of us know through the Hermitage  Moorings oral history workshops). Then for  our free event and treat, reach Raine’s Hall for 7pm to see  senior Madge Darby launch her new book about pirates and Wapping, “Piety and Piracy” She’ll sign copies too. That goes on until 9 so we could do  a walk about before boarding for home to Dalston Junction. Except for the Waeppa High Street Seniors who just walk home on their own turf! Sun sets at 8.36pm so it should be a lovely evening, storm-clouds or not.

In Walthamstow lives our own fictional pirate story writer, Helen Hollick.

Courses for seniors… cos we never stop learning.

All those “How To…” courses paid off. Thanks to all of you who nominated me for  an “Adult Learners’ Week”  achievement award with commitment to learning.  There was/is Songololo-Feet, Blogging, Oral History, film-making with DFG, Journalism with Mapping The Change and loads more:  It’s all out there and advertised through Up Your Street5.

Now for the plush, celebrity- laden awards ceremony. Where? Museum of London. Yeah!