A Taste Of Hackney

Yep! Tasted a bit of Hackney today. To be honest, I’m a bit saturated with Hackney as yesterday “Hackney Life ” a film project by Mosaic Films, Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, showcasing Hackney ..  again.. exposed their ways and means of getting it together via our uploaded shots on YouTube. Well, from the people I knew and loved at the introductory meeting about one eighth were computer-literate so YouTube may be a challenge. Still we remain optmistic. Then at Hackney Museum for two weeks and more,  there’s even more Love ‘Ackney (especially as it’s 2012!)  through “Homerton Voices” and artist Lucy Harrison’s “Mapping Your Manor” project.

Today, A Different Drum Productions  via “A Taste Of Hackney” treated us and the Colvestone pupils to an experience at The new Hackney Archives opposite the Peace Mural, Dalston Junction, opposite The Eastern Curve Garden where my gargoyle weathers the snow . I was quietly stunned as all the non-security staff on duty upstairs were white. Not seen that for ages.  (Seen the Mcdonald’s advert where the ante-natal nurse is black?  Well, hello strereotypes!  McDonalds could’ve paved the way and had a male nurse. Coulda,  shoulda.)

The Hackney Archives is great, state of the art and full of good stuff:- Lots of films and pictures to which the children  could relate.  Don’t know what the adults got from it as  for people who used Ridley Road Market in the past  they were pretty disorientated.

The reception/security staff are great and welcoming.

Went to Can Supermarket. Lea Bridge Road to buy my yam and spinach and home in the freezing cold on a friendly bus.  Life good.


Ha ha ha ha ha ha!   Someone who’d gone along to a volunteer group via Up Your Street had to make a statement to an audience about how they knew about this particular volunteering. Ha ha ha ha ha. She said “We come through Age UK.  Gillian Lawrence works for them” (Ha ha ha ha ha!) and they give her a list called “Up Your Street” and she gives the list to us.”  Ha ha ha ha ha…How AgeUK would like to do my lists! Ha ha ha! You’ll be lucky if they know what they’re doin’ themselves allegedly and if they ever answered their phones. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! How many times have I asked an Age Uk volunteer what exactly they do and they never have an answer, ever.  I even promote AgeUK events. Say my name!  

The Sahara Grill

Mmmm….loved my annual visit to The Sahara Grill in Leyton High Road on route to the Olympics and Paralympics Park. This is advertised as an Islamic restaurant just to warn us all that prayers take precedence. The food is ace and reasonably priced.: A lamb sirloin steak with a gorgeous salad and fat massive chips comes at  a mere £16.95. Mind you I was dining with women who keep their cash wrapped in their hankies and count every penny. The place is always popular and attracts an affluent thirty something Asian/Pakistani looking mixed set. Plus there’s the Millais Road bus stop just outside where stops the 97 bus, which goes in and out of Westfield E20. Yep, E20.  Every grocer on the same road sells halal meat and the same ole same ole, but very fresh, fruit and veg. Makes you wonder if The Sahara Grill buyer goes wholesale or very local. Like a good feeding experience, me. (I see citrus fruits are the flavour of the month on the Hackney AgeUK Healthy Eating site.) What the Sahara doesn’t do is hot beverages. Chocolate gateau jus’ ain’t the same.

In the day, I’d been up with twenty other Up Your Streeters to the BFI on the South Bank to listen to those on the know talk about the life in film of “The Forgotten Legend”, Niranjan Pal who apparantly had a big influence on Raj Kapoor or easier to prove, “paved the way for giants such as Raj Kapoor”. Was so not impressed by the event: The documentary was done in a rush and it showed. (Thanks to DFG Dalston I can speak with confidence about that).

By all accounts, Pal was an nightmare to work with and ignorant to the point of rudeness. And we’d asked why no-one inside and outside of Mumbai knew about him! One Up Your Streeter said he reminded her of me. (To myself, “WHAT?”)  I remained calm. “Yes. He was ignorant and he reminds me of you”. Calmly,  “What is your evidence for that, Pat?” “You walked out of ‘Reasons To Be Good'”. “Oh, you mean “Reasons To Be Cheerful” at Stratford Theatre? You all hated it. I left at the interval, that’s all.” (“Who’s the ignorant one?” I smirked,  wallowing in the irony.) Water…duck’s back..

None of us bought the autobiography of Mr Pal.

Took the packed 26 bus to Hackney Wick which was jammed with pushchairs and toddlers, wellie boots and pom pom hats.

Good day followed by this morning’s excellent free Waltham Forest course all about the importance of reminiscence in Dementia when managed by informal carers usually relatives. ( Formal carers are those uncaring, gum-chewing, uneducated imposters who sprout from agencies and collect wages as carers. Shudder in unison.)

Good to learn.

The Northern Lights

In this the 21st Century, I lived in my grandfather’s homeland, Westray,  in Orkney.  One November I  opened my back door and watched The Merry Dancers aka The Northern Lights”. Was it November because it’s January now and there’s a great deal of fuss and beautiful photos about The Northern Lights oop North in mainland Britain?  When I say fuss, I mean AOL news and Radio 3. Twas brillig. Aah the wind.

One July our polytunnel (the first on the island and built using old building bags .. tell me about recycling!) just got clean blown away and landed in another field. We weren’t expecting that, not in July. Local farmers retrieved it for us. In Iceland they’ll have said the Little People did it.

That polytunnel served us well with lush vegetables and the rearing of  an exotic long shape, as seen by many of the older islanders and pronounced by them as  “Cumber”. In the shop I’d be asked, “And how do you cook a marrow?” Diet of tatties, kale and mutton, see. Nowt wrong with that but the way the healthy eating hood patronise the urban masses would make you believe every farmer’s wife cooks a variety of green vegetables every day and munches on citrus fruits segmented into portions of course. Back to reality  in urbanland, the cost of grub in Tesco soon put paid to all o’ that pseudo-science.  Habits die hard especially where money’s involved. Remember that tin of beans in the larder, that tin you could rely on when every other thing was eaten before pay day, when your stomach needed food whether it were laden with GMs , processed glunk, colouring ?  Luxury now; priced out of our commoner laps.

So many assumptions about cultures.  So many prescriptions from others. So many stereotypes still (and unfortunately evermore in the project- funders’ grips. Who are these people?).  The Healthy Food site in Hackney via Hackney Age UK is totally Caribbean and African in essence and promotion. We’ve explored cassava, yam, maize, pumpkin. Waiting for potatoes and cabbage. It will never happen. Never ever. Not a way to build multi-culturalism especially when up to this day fish ‘n’ chips are upheld in the urban myth as the daily food of white indigenes and dismissed, and together,  by inference and facial expressions too, a whole culture. Good the woman who pronounced at “A Taste Of Hackney” that not all West Indians come from the same island. Let us celebrate the differences and learn something unstereotypical from the mix. Good the West African woman who said that actually “White English” food was missing from the props (?) list . Brave the woman who said the printed highlighted recipes only included African, Caribbean and one Jewish plate. Which communities are valued? Who feels devalued? We are building a weaker link.

Many times I couldn’t open the back door of my renovated 200 year old ‘hoos’ because the Westray winds are fierce. The fishermen, for there were no women, were able to tell the population of 473 to batten down their hatches when they knew which type of wind was coming. Magnificent nature. Bit different if you have to work in it.

“A Taste Of Hackney” suffered a setback yesterday (“just the one, dear?)…  Duh! If you work with children in a school you need to be police-checked.

Other fish to fry…..

Up Your Street issue 4

Wed  Jan 25th free  7.30pm monthly evening talk . Bruce Castle Museum.  Newly digitised films

from the archives – this time on 1950s Muswell Hill and Hornsey.

Wed    Jan 25th £2.50  4pm Stratford Picture House London screening film “Eastern Promises”( 2007)

Sat      Jan 28th   free    noon .Bird watch with Malcolm Community Café,

Downhills Park. Tottenham

Sun  Jan 29th                          1-6pm Entrepeuner Designer Market. Hackney Picturehouse in the Attic.

Hosted by Nsaa Nefateri. Workshops in jewellery -making (not free)

Mon 30th Jan  @the Attic, Hackney Picture House. Discussion time.

Fri Feb  3rd   free  (no need to book) 6.30pm for 7pm  Film  “Pather Panchali” (1955)    at

Valentine’s House and Mansion by Gants Hill.

Sat feb 4th    £1        11.30-2.30pm.  Craft club at Rokeby Centre, E15

Adults only


 Sun Feb 5th     £5 before   8.30pm    @    “The Soul” by Cedars Ave, Hoe St. E17 .

Open Mic and  music hosted by Abena  from Streetlife Radio and

Stratford East Singers. All welcome.

advance priority notice of screenings for Up Your Street subscribers.

Each Wednesday at 4pm there is a special “London Screening” at Stratford Picture House E 15 costing £2.50 for seniors with  a free cup of hot beverage too.
25 Jan Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) with Naomi Watts, Viggo Mortensen
1 Feb My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears, 1985) Daniel Day Lewis
8 Feb Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese, 2002) Leonardo Di Caprio, Danie Day Lewis
15 Feb Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) James Steward, Kim Novak
22 Feb Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan, 1986) Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson
29 Feb Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears, 2002) Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tautou and Sophie Okonedo
Always a warm welcome at The Stratford Picture House. Hope you can make it. We get an introduction first.