Today I went to the toilet.

Joined the throngs in The Convenience, the gutted out and scrubbed up public loo in Chatsworth Road past The Creperie and the betting shop and going towards the Homerton Hospital, to attend The Buildings Exploratory sessions about the history of Clapton. The Convenience is the home of NANAs, an enterprise set up by the Amazings founder to alleviate isolation in local senior grandmothers.

A cold hole with shiny remnants of urinals and an upstairs café seating area  the hipster café’s tea is a pound a cup, brewed in a vintage (old) teapot and served up in mis-matched vintage (old) tea cups and saucers.

Talking of old tea cups we at the Floristry workshop (never to be repeated)  up at Lea Bridge Library Community Room and nothing to do with The Bridge community enterprise, had been asked to bring along old crocks in which to poke flowers for a Mothers’ Day present. It was an excellent session and Joan Payne the tutor is a true treasure. Up Your Street subscribers at the workshop left in good cheer, crossed the Lea Bridge Road, which will soon become a cyclists’ highway by the way, and scoffed chips at The Captain’s Table where they had a good old natter with some young apprentice chuggers.

Toilets and tea cups don’t suit me.


I am destined to be awake in the early hours and film-buff myself by watching a film I’d always known about “All Quiet On the Western Front” (1930). It’s that or “Family Guy”. Because my sleep routine is down the pan. Read on, reader!

Yesterday at 5 a m I made my way to the pool under the college, Waltham Forest Community Pool under Waltham Forest College but nothing to do with it. Not many pools were taking part this year in the new Swimathon. I say “new” because these days it’s all to do with Sainsbury and so the medals are classier, and UK Sport Relief aka Davina’s ordeals. The Swimathon used to be to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Trust.

Every year I find myself with a small cluster of swimmers who are supported by sponsors. who put themselves out there as community movers and champions but hardly anyone knows.

Amelia at Waltham Forest Pool has my total respect. Evidently, one-handedly she organised the only slot available before the Sunday Tritons descended to be the Swimathon event which meant contacting the organisers, shuffling along the candidates, supervising the pool, gathering life-guards and supplying the jelly-babies. What a welcoming friendly inspiring community leader and much better than the po-faced attendants of yore in the Better centres. This was at 5.30 a.m on a Sunday.

All the five swimmers were fantastic. Children became length counters and cheer-leaders for their dads and the pool, being in a restricted space, allowed no room for spectators. The bunting served to make the occasion a celebration. Thank you Amelia.


Are We Nearly There Yet?

Just watching after midnight “London River” on BBC2.Coincidentally this is the film offering at Haringey Independent Cinema on Thursday 27th March  2014 at West Green Learning Centre, Philip Lane N15 in Tottenham. Slow intense drama highlighting London’s urban Finsbury Park area in 2005. Glum.

I was at the launch of a community centre where an elderly Pakistani man praised a borough which supports cultural centres so that groups can reinforce their origins and pass on heritage to a younger set. Do we need those buildings anymore? Aren’t we at the stage where we don’t need an Asian Women’s Centre, an Afro-Caribbean Centre, a Somali Community Centre, an Irish Women’s Centre and so on? Haven’t we all got to the place where we don’t need to keep celebrating the difference and stereotyping women as underprivileged and voiceless?  How are we measuring cohesion in multi-cultural communities via such set-ups? Aren’t we segregating? Which cultures are diminished in the scramble to prove political correctness and multi-cultural awareness?

At the launch, a big fuss was made about the lack of self-esteem which burdens apparently local “Asian women”. I had often questioned why leaflets advertising events  targeting Asian women were out there in 2014.  As suspected it’s a trick to attract funders, who after reading off tick-lists, obligingly heap money on organizations using the correct buzz-words or hooks under the intangible umbrella “healthy living” in order to prop up a Government’s Big Society. Back in the room, the emotional response was unmistakeable as a speaker with quivering voice embraced notions of uplifting the pulverised. She was applauded by the very men who allegedly keep the women down. I am favoured in that the “Asian women” I socialise with are feisty and outgoing clothed from head to toe in black and sassy about what’s what. They all live and love like me in socially-deprived areas. They will all partake of the lottery-funded freebies. So will I.

Another way of alleviating the sore plight of Asian Women locally and creating positive images for a wider community is for the Allah-inspired home-school groups  operating in secular community council-owned  buildings to explore the ways in which all their clients who are women and their schooled toddlers perceive themselves. Local secular schools are ahead when it comes to celebrating diversity and finding ways of lifting low self-esteem.

“Education cannot compensate for society” said the educator Basil Bernstein. However let’s be sure that well-meaning groups and centre staff are on the same page as the professional educators.


Hailstones At The Fair

Someone had worked hard before one o’clock today. I arrived at the Community Room Lea Bridge Library for the launch of The Bridge, the latest neighbourhood enterprise for the deprived and marginalised of Lea Bridge Ward in Leyton in Waltham Forest and already people were munching chunks of French bread and humus. A nice cup of Typhoo was ready and on time the afternoon started with opening welcomes from councillors, chairpersons, library officials and giggles from the children’s craft table.

Certainly support was there for a free community space. Mama’s home schooling project delightedly told us that the number of mothers and children has increased three-fold in that small room. How does that all work with a shut toilet and who’s inspecting that type of education? To be investigated later.

Out of the blue was hung on a moveable board (for the building is listed and blu-tak and any tack is not allowed) the reminiscence quilt  made by  Leyton residents during craft workshops at Lea Bridge Library. It wasn’t really but who am I to rain on anyone’s parade?


An Irish harpist played and a children’s group waved the Pakistani flag and sung and marched to songs emphasising their love of Pakistan.

Speakers moved us as they told of their reasons for engaging with a lost community or of local people who allegedly feel isolated and marginalised. The explanation of the joys of Tai Chi upped the beat.


Down by the fair at Millfields towards Hackney a car had crashed into a bus. We saw a dead rat, crossed the road and enjoyed a fabulous, clean, welcoming and cheap fair. Girls in hijabs screamed on the ride- not- for- wimps and the man who staffed the hook-a-duck was as friendly as pie. We tongued candy floss in the spurt of banging hailstones and saw that the broken car had been moved onto the grass verge.




Supporting The Bridge E10

                                       Up Your Street

Last spring Up Your Street delivered weekly sessions for seniors at Lea bridge Road Library in a project initiated by The Mill E17. Our popular free sessions included  meditation with Mary Fahey, “Spitalfields My Home” with Jan Dewhurst, African stories with Marcella Kaikai, Hedgeherbs with Rasheeqa, local social history with David Boote  and an illustrated talk with Norman Minter. Other speakers were waiting in the wings.  Participants fired by those sessions went on to deliver  keep- fit classes and drawing sessions.

Now The Bridge is launched, a neighbourhood enterprise for the neighbours supported by LBWF. and modelled on and shaped by The Mill in E17 . The Big Society got bigger.

Up Your Street        issue for  The Bridge launch @ E10

Up Your Street is wholly owned and managed by Gillian Lawrence

email to subscribe freely at

Sun 23rd Mar   free    Cultivate Waltham Forest continues all week. Check with The Hornbeam Café, Hoe Street E17 (by Bakers Arms for details). They serve hot chocolate to die for!!!

Tues 25th  Mar last day to get early bird prices (usually working out at £1.50 per session) for daytime courses in ceramics, art, Indian head massage, seated Yoga and much more at The Centre for Better Health (see address below).

Wed 26th  Mar free 2-4pm at Lawrence Centre E13 crafts and art for seniors. Phone Rosetta Arts for a place. (for 12 weeks).

                           free 6-7.30pm Poetry sharing informally at the Centre For Better Health 1a Darnley Rd Hackney (opp. Hackney Town Hall) (monthly)

Thurs 27th Mar free 1-3pm floristry at Community Room Lea Bridge Road Library. Book via library services

                            free   6-8pm Cook and share at Waltham Forest College Forest Rd E17 with E17Kitchen.

Sun  30th Mar free  11.15 The Mill’s Community breakfast. Bring food to share.