Three hours in the humid heat joining in Mapping Your Manor with the Newham Striders and picking up others on the way. What a lovely bunch of people to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with. Lucy greeted us well as did John and Chris and Ross was recording sounds while Jane was our camera one.
Well, let’s face it! The backstreets and the high roads of Leyton and Stratford aint all that and the trek on the tow path down to Bow is not scenic. The Greenway is nothing but a white concrete path although homage today to the many colours of wild weeds showing off amongst the litter. Fish Island is a waste of space. There are no buses down that Dickensian way and the newest cafe is £2 a cuppa. Not up any of our streets. We did inspect the temporary Folly for a Flyover. Whoever knew that was just there on the side of the River Lea under a bridge?
I dunno, she sighed deeply. But I say it like it is.
We fulfilled the point of Mapping Your Manor with travellers reading excerpts, sharing memories and poets doin’ their thing. Here’s my poem I was proud to read on a project which gives voice to ordinary folk.
Age old white clouds, surveyors of all beneath them
slid behind the unnatural and perfect
concrete wedges of new- built Olympian blocks
high as skies
Down on puddled paths I was open-mouthed and amazed.
Only the unsettled wind and my camera shuttering
as I counted without counting
On the roads outside the Park
in earshot of the booming Gala bingo- caller’s voice
under perfect Edwardian arches and invisible gargoyles
now womanly in their aspects, feared by no man
boys on bikes
together in a crowd
chasing the wind and their tails
indifferent to rising shapes and Olympian realities.
Their street was a century away
wrapped in guarded terraces, clung onto tested ways
yellow-bricked, Primark- clothed , home and known.
The Olympic Games site was their parents’ neighbour
not quite settled in, watched through Bid Up TV curtains
and rising steam from Basmati rice in curried kitchens.
By 8pm the stadium was drenched in a slow drowning
in glorious sun down.
The youth shielded their caps and eyes from the sting
looked up to see who shone the torch
realised the invader and planned a way to jump its wired fence.
Someone’s screech of “house” escaped and cadged a ride on the DLR.
Stratford Cars’ minicab- master emerged from the darkness of his firm
looked up the road towards Bow and lit a cigarette.
The smoke trailed upwards from his mouth blurring the sunset.
In a second, his wife’s voice came crashing from the sky:
“Where’s E20? Hamid! Where is it? Can’t see it.
He fingered the beads in his pocket.
“Tell them it’s not ready. It’s coming”.
Excellent turn -out of seniors experienced in walking regularly.
Carpenters Road has been transformed from the murky oily dirtsville it once was about 6 years ago, and no amount of romanticising can convince me of a different history.
Where’s the Radox?