Tonight is MUSEfest in Hackney London. Not the old Hackney but the noo schmoo, the one of Hackney Picture House and bicycle stands, and beards and low-slung brown skinny trousers and a Premier Inn at Dalston Junction, land of lattes and wraps, closing down pancake shops, and toilets transformed into pop-in pop-ups.

Zeb Achonu has a Facebook page all about mothers making music. She as a musician and a young mother puts it out there that motherhood cannot squash your music creativity and it’s great for like minded music makers to join together and keep music and spirits alive.  It need energy just to get that off the ground between the carting to and from nursery, teaching language skills to own toddler, buying Tampax and Pampers, and getting to work on time.

Whilst in Paris she plunged into balconies and music by producing with Léopold Naessens “Balcony TV”. Hannah Judson was also on that same balcony. Since June, Zeb and Hannah have Skyped together and  set up gloriously MUSEfest , an evening showcasing women who make moves in music and who inspire others to create notes. The line-up is impressive, Mr Geldorf, and the tickets are as cheap as chips at £7.

It’s evenings of damp and mulled wine lit up by shop displays of Christmas glitter. It’s Hackney with its Empire, Town Hall, Tesco and sparse free parking. It’s The Attic on top of the rather stunning Hackney Picture House next to queues of buses on main street Mare Street.

From Up Your Street and HIGH STREET SENIORS who,  as well as The Bhaji in Docklands,  are feeding the musicians come best wishes for our daughters and granddaughters, for success for those women relentlessly producing music which deserves a place in the very man-dominated sphere of composing, conducting and techno-creating.

If it takes a charity event to get earnest and creative women recognised as musicians who have more to offer than music-videos selling mush hyped up with bouncing bottoms and air-brushed lips, then so be it.   Zeb and Hannah have that energy as work-loaded mothers to bring about a change in the music industry.

Light up tomorrow with today!

A question of care.

That someone who was never shown love could grow up to give love is amazing.

I met Alex Wheatle  at the Idea Store Whitechapel where I’d booked to hear him do a platform debate about diversity or rather no diversity in publishing in the UK. I saw him in the corridor and felt comfortable enough to go up and take a hug. My companion thought I was brave and expert at networking. Not me. Like my grandson I stand back if I get a bad vibe.

I just watched on Twitter the interview he gave on Channel 4 about his miserable young days in Lambeth Care.

It sparks a long-held motto of mine that if you feel it ain’t right then you’re probably right. Last year I visited a children’s nursery and just wanted to carry off those kiddies. One miserable cow was feeding the children in silence. One child ate at a time and the others had to sit in silence in the horseshoe around the bitch’s feet. She couldn’t even look up to say hello to me a prospective customer. What wasn’t taught to those kiddies then?

Got in and googled for the OFSTED report. One singular inspector went in on a pre-arranged time of course. Dandy report ticking all the boxes and giving a “good”. I opened my own pop-up nursery.

Someone else was with me at the time and phew! had the same reaction as myself. To calm ourselves we agreed that the sour- looking mothers who went into the building to drop off their babies probably saw nothing wrong with kiddies being silent and passive especially in front of Mr Maker on a small DVD machine.

Whilst there, there was a ring at the bell and a man was allowed to go upstairs with no questions asked and see some worker. The nursery is a three bedroomed house in E10 obviously granted a licence by the Council. Yep I could name names but I need proof.

There’s another nursery in E10 run by nuns. Don’t get me started.


Time was when

Time was when every house smelt of cabbage.

So may times I’ve gone along to a reminiscence project expecting to find a group of chuckling Londoners telling stories about the olden days. It’s never like that. It’s always Up Your Street characters with a sprinkling of other possibly press-ganged others who are no way sociable and never want to share emails. Then there are the group facilitators who whilst  managing interns who spend much of their time doing filing online take on the role of history teachers with social consciences. What do I learn? Everything that’s Googlable.

I’ve been to disorganised, student unfriendly Archives, community centres whose staff never engage with anyone, been verbally abused, been invisible, been patronised and been ignored. Yep, happens to the best of us.

Many canny Up Your Street people who have always called a spade a spade and not been hampered by diplomacy do insist on free tea at meets or workshops in community centres/hubs because they know that they are just being used to do the workload of interns. There isn’t any payment available except in tea. Lately I was at an heritage project where we were told blatantly that the volunteers aka project participants were there to do the hard-slog research for the academics. So we didn’t: we didn’t go back.

Lottery Heritage money funds these pretend community- engagement projects. Pretend communities.

After the stint of time, after the paper fliers and tweeted adverts, when the hurly-burley’s done, there is never any continuation. Everything is done and dusted. No-one is invited to share their experience in the form of a written review. Obviously evaluation sheets are filled in but they’re designed cleverly so that cracks never form. For myself, I need to know I got some fruit from my taking part so am compelled to carry on researching. That initiative is neither recognised nor welcome. A real history teacher would encourage interest and spark something intellectual.

Heritage is just big business.

It’s all stale now. So when William Morris gave out its advert about whatever today I groaned. Are we nearly there yet?

My new year resolution is clear. Stop going.

Ming ting bing shing gorgeous

Ming at British Museum free with Claremont Project. Just the nine places, dear?

Ah, nice quiet BM on a November evening with its iconic façade lit up  and black railings shiny wet after the rains on London’s flagstones.

The Ming exhibition, costly at its price, is exceptionally well-laid-out what with jade coloured walls and plush red ones too.


Ming 1

We particularly liked quotes from past scholars emblazoned on the walls and then the jade jewels. We had to read twice the notes about boys captured and castrated in order to live as slaves in Royal palace. The film about ships in Ming times mesmerises. There was much to read and loads to ogle at.

.ming 2

Virtual Paul’s Cross Donne done

Ah! St Paul’s area on a Saturday morning is peaceful.  Into The Wren Suite we filed although the ticket said “The Churchyard”. Who kens?


What a technological treat and feat is that project. I wanted to ask how the American project academics engaged with people local to themselves as I suspect there were crowds of volunteers aka white posh drawl inflected interns doing much of the drone work.. Could be wrong, eh? Was never invited to ask about the real practicalities of a cross Atlantic piece of wizardry as the event MC wanted us out before time.  Shoot. I’d already been gunned down by groans when I had remarked that the visuals I was seeing didn’t make me feel part of the place (“this is where you are”) as only one gender seemed to be represented in the prologue and the material.

As f0r John Donne, poet of fleas and sensuousness, he took bottom rung in what it is really all about; presenting theatre-history in a Google library.

Now to Google to the website and listen to two hours of an actor reading Donne’s Gunpowder Sermon in a right Northern accent, complete with a backdrop of bird-song, doggy woofs and sounds surmised. In real life we could hear a police siren outside.