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.

Brides Of Culture

Went to a smashing friendly event today in the sunshine at Hackney Town Hall. Lovely welcome, Quality Street on trays, golden Champagne, and very nice people. I’d not made either of the Brides of Culture previous events in posh hotels in London so was determined to get to the Hackney one. Up the stairs to the sound of a violin being played beautifully and into a hall stacked with stalls and relaxed promoters of all things wedding. Photographers milled around the crowds, holding equipment high, retaking photo after photo because they’re professionals while cake-makers pulled us in with fantastic designs and mama kitchens piled high our plates with jollof rice as they explained the services they offer to bridal parties. There was never an hard sell, just jolly folk showing their wares and dishing out business cards and samples.

At 4.30 after the wedding planner seminar we were treated to a well-organised and MC-d fashion show. The models showed off gorgeous creations in silks, satins, chiffon and ruffles. There were innovative twists on veils and gathered skirts, revealing underskirts of lace and patterns and a creation for an Islamic wedding because this was a multicultural event. The first models on the catwalk excited us with the traditional African designs and cloths.  The materials used were very expensive indeed going into thousands. Breath taking. What beautiful colours there were as well as the creams, ivories, virgin whites and champagne hues of the unique wedding dresses. The drumming beats from the accompanying music guided each model to the edge of the stage and each woman was lifted down graciously by a visiting toastmaster in his red uniform such that folk wondered if he were in fact Hackney’s mayor!

There was still time left over to eat more chicken, more cupcakes, plantain canapés and home-made sweets.

Each visiting bride-to-be received a goody bag, loads of attention and plenty of warm love.

Spring in Leyton

Lots of trees are out in blossom and of course the daffs are going mad springing up everywhere. Tomorrow at 2.30 there’s a fabulous walk with Walking Free in Waltham Forest, the third part of David Boote’s  ‘pilgrimage’ along the mediaeval landscape of Waltham Forest. Always informal and relaxed and stuffed with historical and social facts are David’s walks and this walk of many starts at the junction of Leyton High Road and Church Road opposite the site of The Lion and The Key. After two hours you’ll finish at Blackhorse Road Station but you can leave anywhere en route. No chains on this one.

Just in is news of a free Easter Festival concert at St John of Jerusalem,  Lauriston Road Hackney where the rarely performed Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater” is being presented. Tickets must be booked in advance at That’s on 6th April. is an online service bringing neighbourhoods together through conversations, events and appreciation of their areas. I always remember as a teenager sitting in a car with others. We were in the then Finsbury Park where people spat on the streets, belched in your face, and vagabonds hung around the unsmart tube station. A beautiful Afro-coiffured girl emerged from a dingy terraced house in Blackstock Road in the days before those dumps became artists’ studios and yes I have been inside them. My friend just remarked quietly how a swan came out of the mud. Leyton has a reputation as a mire, I guess. Everyday I brush away fag-ends from my front. The flowers I stuck in oases at my free floristry class I arranged on my window-sill. Well then coincidentally or not, the new neighbours put vases of flowers in their windows. How lovely! Keep at it despite the Council allowing two late night drinking dens opposite. Business tax speaks. That’s why there are so many betting shops. The cobbled area outside the architecture and heritage  prize-winning Bakers’ Arms pub which is now a gamblers’ paradise is always full of aimlessly gathered cigarette-smoking guys. Harmless but so doesn’t coordinate with the fresh new facades of the junction courtesy of a council obviously not strapped for cash so whoopee our Freedom passes are safe!

Just won two tickets to The Ideal Home Show in Earls Court and booked my ticket for The Haymarket matinee free rehearsed reading of a play 4th April. Diary getting full. It’s the David Boote Chaucer effect.

Silver chatterbox badged.

Free floristry was good yet again at Lea Bridge Road Library. Nothing like a relaxed honest know your stuff tutor. Receptionist even more non-welcoming than before. Sour face. The register of names as supplied by Waltham Forest Libraries is nothing like who we are. Thursday’s task was to make a triangular-shaped display using our bargain basement florals and gathered foliage. I was very lucky to have found purple flowers at Tesco Express reduced by a third (but I know all the tricks to revive the wilters) and bog-standard white chrysanthemums as my plan was to mark International Women’s Day with a personalised salute.

iwd flowers“Do better next time”.

We all 8 of us did well. Evidently our tutor was booked to demonstrate button-hole making at the big jamboree nod to International Women’s Day at Waltham Forest Assembly Hall on the Saturday. The men once again get relieved of baby care duties and pleasures as children are welcome every year at the Walthamstow….oops I mean Waltham Forest womanly shindig. Talking of baby-care. The other evening about 6pm there was such an hollering in the street that everyone looked over. An annoyed father was screeching at his charge, a mere tiny toddler couldn’t have been more than two and the man was screaming for all to hear “Just walk!” Bastard. The little mite was cry, cry, crying. Enjoyed the sex, now do the work. See so much all the time. Many many parents have not the capacity to realise that what they do now shapes the child. The tyranny.

I know a mature student in a central London university. She is recording everything not satisfactory about the course under the heading “What am I paying for?” Every session the tutor leaves early, continually walks out of the room, verbally abuses students who are actually grown women and men, never teaches but encourages research i e Google and calls the class “you lot”. Others are just as bad. No-one gets feedback and the only one to one is a cursory flick through work done accompanied by a smirk of disdain in front of the rest of the class. There is no encouragement to do well, to strive for higher, The grown students know it’s because they are a class of black people gathered from deprived areas of ghetto London. They know it. I know it but you know, what can be done? It’s the raise the community post London Riots: It’s the settle the unsettled post Swann Report. It’s stick white business women aka tutors in front of seasoned Londoners who know the once dishevelled now trendy hotspots of their own town and recognise the patronising tones about their backgrounds and neighbourhoods. It’s the them and us and God no the twain shall never meet. It’s calling a mire a university.

Timetables never known in advance are changed. The students move buildings without being informed about security or fire protections. If, as they sink into lethargy and no-hope, they ask about their rights and conditions of work/study, they are readily accused of insolence and trouble-making. Where is the adult to and fro? Where is the thirst for intellectual challenge? Certainly not fostered under this climate. And where is the consideration for studying parents who have to alter child-care arrangements to suit a disorganised unstructured recently inspected and okay-ed  institute of education?

The University is merely a money-making business,  headed by a business guy who is ready to expel at a whim those with whom he will never interact. He will count, as a normal business person would, the interest on the paid fees. Criminal.

I am recording everything too.

Not for nothing am I a silver chatterbox award holder at!

Enjoyed watching the squirm and the reactions on Question Time in Barking. Say it like it is you indigenes. Nothing will return to the Union Jack flag waving days of the Coronation years although we had a little taste of its revival when two Royals married recently. What do Memories of Hoxton, Priory Court OAP Lunch Club, Walthamstow Memories, The Claremont Project, Buildings Exploratory for Seniors all have in common? It’s a hard one.

Today I dared to ask the man who was cleaning the lamps of the horse- drawn white wedding carriage parked opposite me with a horse in a van too what nationality the wedding would be? I meant ‘Was it Roma?” and that was because the local Chinese restaurant behind the horse van had been hired a month ago by men in winkle-pickers and women in aproned and petticoat-ed skirts holding hands with Brylcreem-ed boys in velvet suits and girls in pink pink pink. The east-end accented geezer said “Well it’s English, English Roma”. Lovely jubbly. I wish the couple and their families well.

Just read “Viber”‘s instruction  to me  as I wanted to shortcut a photo to here, “You cannot add yourself to the conversation”. Ha ha. I add you.