Entry III: The Sinking of the Nameless: Recollections of a Volunteer/Journalist

you are loved

Megaphone Valkyrie

Great tragedies are supposed to have name. The Titanic, the Lusitania… Their dead live forever in the stories we tell about them and the living fight for change in their memory that they might not die in vain. This is just a boat of ‘migrants’ that sunk in the Aegean, another number, another regrettable spat of collateral damage in the border war. But not to us, the ones who were there when the rescued came into harbour. Not to me. Last night was the most traumatic of my life. Back home, I spoke with confidence about how ‘borders kill’ – but now I’ve seen it with my own eyes and I will never forget the sinking of that nameless ship.

Official Count So Far: 11 confirmed dead (5+ children) & at least 40 still lost at sea

My friend Ashley and I were supposed to drive back across the island…

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Silver today

Hackney Museum was just busy and buzzing all morning. The one mistake about the African Threads Hackney Style exhibition  is that it is crammed into a small space.  I know Hackney people,- Gawd bless ’em,  gov- like to live on top of each other but the exhibition space is a danger area what with kiddies on the floor copying Adinkra and people getting in front of others viewing the video. There is too too much to internalise on one visit. It’s all free too. So repeat the visit.

Fashion and textiles design entrepreneur, Honey, guided us around the white area, the whatever area and we saw cotton looking like wool and bark being transformed into cloth and a nod to The East India Shipping Company. We are allowed as adults to feel the cloth, (V& A faint, ) and know we are amongst the history of people of colour with a thousand references to the nasty slave owners but a great emphasis on how Hackney was “back in the day”. Well, it was green fields and rich owners of mansions who wore wigs and employed servants and where did they go to the toilet?

We were at a textiles workshop where some mums came an hour late with their offspring. The advertising had been diverse and so no-one could be blamed but I did leave way ahead of time to give space to the little ones.

Out into the sunshine but only after I’d checked the well-presented exhibition in Hackney Central Library. And after I’d been issued with my coffee and cake reading club current book.

Straight into the Hackney Picture House with ten minutes to go before “SPECTRE” Well. last week I’d endured “Suffragette” but today there was that proper cinematic experience with LOUD music and trembling seats. For a fiver on my Silver Screen ancient membership I got to see the film, drink a hot chocolate and eat their biscuits. Well bargain as a London hot chocolate costs more than the tin. The staff are just welcoming and lovely, I’d say. Spectre is amazing to quote the world but it is in  the old fashioned meaning of the word. It is nastily violent so I wonder why it’s a 12 A film. I mean I watched FGM videos so am used to huge violent scenes but a 12 year old except in a war zone or trekking through the Balkans is still innocent. I loved it all, came home  fried my own delicious chips then sold a painting.

Exhausted but  still kicking.

Strange how it’s kinda acceptable for grey James Bond to have a meaningful fling with a twenty something pouter. Talking of pouts my niece packed out of the world of Uni after two days (a record) and is about to have her self-esteem dragged to the ground as she flicks her locks at one modelling interview after another. Her mum and I have our wrinkly hands ready to catch her as she falls. Skyfall.

Issue 37 Up Your Street

                                                 Issue 37

At the PictureHouses this week there’s Spectre out. Become a member of

Silver Screen

for cheap tickets and a cuppa with bourbons

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Tues 27th Oct free  6.30pm Chapel Cinema in St Margarets Bethnal Green.”West Side Story”

African Threads – Hackney Style

Tues 27 Oct free , 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm

Create textile designs, patterns and prints with a professional textile artist. Supported by Hackney Learning Trust.

BHM

“Hackney Fashion

Wed 28 Oct free 2pm-4pm

Design fabulous fabrics and fashions inspired by Hackney and Africa.

Music of African and Caribbean Memories

Wed 28 Oct   free 11am-1pm. all ages

Come and enjoy music of African and Caribbean roots from the past 50 years; song-sheets and percussion will be provided and participation is encouraged. The Spitz Charitable Trust brings music workshops to older people in care homes and links them with young people to reduce isolation, improve well-being and create a positive impact on the lives of everyone involved. Free entry. ” (from Hackney Museum website)

Wed 28th Oct free 2-4pm Leyton Library E10. Henna Workshop. Book at Eventbrite

                              £5 1.30-4pm Chingford Assembly Hall/E4. Tea Dance

Thurs 29th Oct free  Coffee cake and book group 10.30-11.30am Hackney Library with Lydia.

“At our cake and reading  meeting, we’ll be discussing The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale. Please note you’ll now need to reserve this title from our library catalogue. Reserve online or pop into one of our libraries around the borough. Contact adrian.morris@hackney.gov.uk for further details “.

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The Wordlovers Society Clapton library

Second Tuesday and last Thursday of each month, 5.30pm-7.45pm

A group for anyone interested in poetry and creative writing. Bring your own work to read or perform to the group. All abilities welcome. Facilitated by writer KG Lester. For more information email tyaxx@hotmail.com.

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                          free 6.30-7.45pm African Threads exhibition with a connected talk-time at Hackney Museum called  The Textile Trade

*****************************************************************that’s Thursday.

 

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Fri 30th Oct free 6.30-9.30 QEOP Timber lodge Pop Up Arts festival via Univ College London Book at Eventbrite and dress for the cold windy open space that is QEOP. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Sat 31st Oct free 11-1pm Chinford Library “Black Superheroes” animation fest with Tony Warner  Eventbrite for tickets.

Loads of events coming up in November at Hackney Picture House and Open School East in De Beauvoir posh Hackney  and all over. You will be informed. There’s my Facebook Page too Up Your Street which is way ahead. And then Whitechapel for the November Writing Festival. And Bangla Drama Season at Brady Arts. E1.

Crying at The Flix

I  was privileged to have belonged to Clapham Film Unit for a while and to have done some research at the LSE and on the Internet into the Women’s Peace Movement.(WILF). Many people including Guardian readers do not know that women activists went to the Hague in 1915 to try to stop WW1. They weren’t all knitting for the troops. They were rather posh though. Clapham Film Unit empowered women to make a film about Tilbury Dock and to dress up and be seen. It was good. Women through Up Your Street came along and they were ones who had  opposed passively the Women’s Liberation Movement in the sixties. or not been in the UK then and saw politics as trouble. We all learnt together. We published stories about women in 1915.

Today went  like this…

Me “No. No. I don’t feel like going to watch a women and angst film”.

Daughter “Oh go and enjoy yourself”.

Oh dear. thinking positive,  I accepted the challenge and went for my first visit to the Empire in Walthamstow E17. The website was a little unhelpful but finally I knew I could see “Suffragette” for a fiver. Only one person I know had seen it and she was impressed because the story was through the life of a working class woman. (So? Remember “Dagenham”?) I knew the W I in Redbridge had gone as a group to celebrate themselves in Stratford east.

It was raining and the cinema at 12.30 was pretty empty. Plush but empty. One commentator on the Guardian review had said that older people would be more inclined to like the film. Bloomin’ cheek. But apart from one restless pregnant customer we were all old. Mind you, look at the time; hardly the lounging hour.

The film’s opening is powerful because of the music and the close-ups and bird’s eye views of machinery in a Bethnal Green laundry in 1912. I perked up. My grandmother to my shame worked in a laundry in 1912. Silly me not imagining how it really was.  You know, wash boards and soap. Curiously the working women in the blockbuster never wear head coverings whilst working at the machines and over the tubs. Fired up I remembered that my grandfather met nanny whilst he worked in a chemist’s. Woohoo. The Suffragette women in the film spent time meeting and planning in a pharmacy. But actually for most of the film I wondered what my female ancestors did for the cause. I am old enough to have been in the situation where a husband banned me from doing much because my feminist ways would shame him. My sister couldn’t even buy a new bra until her husband had decided the elastic was spent.  We evolved. In the auditorium I spent time sucking my Tesco chocolate thinking of women worldwide.

The camera work may have been innovative but was pretty annoying. Still if it had been slower the film would have been draggier. The whooshing shots helped to heighten the thrust of the violence and to be honest the force-feeding scene was more 18 than 12A.

After the story line was set with the usual run of  characters representing the lower class;  there’s a nasty boss,  a  hubby unable to work out child care, foul-mouthed workers, the beaten wife and so on  then the rest was sentimental slosh.

Yes the music was grand. The Empire is grand and better at welcoming than Hackney Picture House. If you say the word “Senior” the staff talk louder and slower. No magic cup of tea appears though. That’s at 11 am.

At Chapel Cinema in Bethnal Green next Tuesday on offer for free is “West Side Story”.

Cinema at its best.

 

Blog The proposed demise of the Burwell Road Estate in Leyton London E10

Touching A Nerve.

My mother has lived on the Burwell Estate once known as the Burwell Residential Estate for 40 years and knows her neighbours often only by face and has seen the estate go from nasturtium gardened plots to mattress city. Many of her neighbours raised families there then died. She is gradually being seen as isolated because she is old and alone. Being seen as. She is a wise stoical  owl being watched by hawks. Property developers are pushing glossy leaflets through her letter box. She recycles paper religiously.

The homes were built in the 1930s and all look the same.. They all in the main have double-glazed windows and if you concentrate you will see glass everywhere on porch doors. on front doors and everywhere where light can be captured. In the summer the houses give off whiteness as many people whitened their pebble-dash. Asquatum then Harknell moved out and by 1990 the estate was languishing in a past glory. Older people retired to the likes of Chingford and Braintree as the Estae matched the rest of inner London in its colourful multi-culturalness. Flats were built where factories stood and people locked themselves inwards as strangers came, spoke differently and used the spaces on Burwell Road to park their cars rather than their own fiddle with a key purpose-built enclosed private car park. No one fought about anything. People wanted to live peacefully together albeit on top of each other. Roads were blockd off and the direction of the traffic flow was altered. Lorry drivers got confused and stuck on their way to the Burwell Industrial Estate which is a place most residents could not pinpoint on a map.

Christmas time is fabulous on the estate as all families and singletons celebrate it with twinkling lights across windows, gloriously decorated Christmas trees in their 1970 through- lounges and note the silence on the  five roads.. When the estate becomes snow-locked people help each other get bread and milk in as the pavements and roads never get treated by the Council. So it’s community life as desired by many.

Here are the signs of s community of residents, hanging onto what was and very aware of the makings of a good neighbourhood as they practise it each day. Children are in abundance and populate the local Sybourn Nursery.

The whole estate did deteriorate in terms of cleanliness and upkeep. Burwell Road on a wet day is miserably grey with one side full of old factories and new manufacturers with all their chicken wire and litter trapped in it. Fortunately  the residents can rely on estate agents to glamourise it in their adverts by talking of close to amenities in the form of the old Lea Bridge Road Station about to be opened. The agents will have difficulty selling those same pre-loved  houses and three bedroom houses converted to flats when those same jewels are overshadowed by new-build flats and behind them the tower blocks as Pollock proposes.

 

Leaflets went through doors yesterday morning to invite residents to the exhibition on Monday 19th October all about the plans for e great and enormous change on the corner of Burwell Road and Lea Bridge Road. We now know why no-one cared about Roma Corner, the dumping place for every left-over of human existence, a fox’s jumble sale as dirt was piled high , cot mattresses strewn  opposite  the charity warehouse  which spilled its own contents onto the pavement. No-one bothered to resurface the pavement cluttered with Cable, water and wotnot entry holes and over tarred patchwork.

 

Burwell Road itself semed abandoned by the Waltham Forest Council. The last time anything good was done to it was in 1985 when the streetlights were heightened to make night walking safer for women except when a bulb went on the corner. We were all reminded of dark black Victorian holes.  People were left to make the roads on the estate pretty by washing their doors and fronts and over the years the pride seemed to vanish as more and more skips moved onto precious parking spaces.  Builders were changing  family homes into so-called studio flats and other desirable residences changing from single family occupancy to many in one space tenancies.

Social housing is desperately needed in east London. The building of the posh flats will create two communities resentful and suspicious of each other. Burwell Eatate will become slummified in the cold shadow of high road non-affordable new apartments next to the station and by the marshes. Property prices will go down and then the estate will become an undesirable place to live and bring up children. The bulldozers will move in and gradually demolish 1930 stock as children and families grow up amd move away. Those like my mother will never realise the pot of gold she worked hard for in her working days , The bricks and mortar will fetch the price of  second-hand bricks and not much else.

Car parking will be controlled by residents parking only, a great source of revenue for a council shutting services all over. That will be  despite the fact that residents already know how to manage their parking amicably . Spaces are taken up by customers using new business premises whose owners never cared about their encroachment on family life and ease, never incorporated car parking facilities into their new business premises.

 

Business is business just like the plans for new flats in Burwell Road and environs. It’s that total overlooking of families who have a right to live comfortably in family houses they work for  and look forward to relaxing in on retirement.

Burwell Estate will be overshadowed and become the estate at the back.

 

Leyton people are dismissed over and over again because they have no voice  together. Look at the state of Lea Bridge Road up past Bakers Arms with road closures and one-ways to allow for out of town cyclists to enjoy the prioritised Mini-Holland. Look at the state of the pavements  around patches away from main junctions. Look at the betting shops and drinkeries all magnets for the poor but all valuable to a council prostituting for business tax revenue.. It’s all business. There is no agenda but profiteering and certainly not a nod to Leyton neighbourhoods which have been established for years long before pubs became Freds and Poundshops became the new Woolworth.

 

Definitely the flats will rise. As a non-Trappist monk though I will comment and I will be emotional and I will sling my objections to and against the giants.

 

Fabric of India

Up Your Street subscribers enjoyed each other’s company at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the galleries dedicated to showing off historical textile artefacts and antiquities pertaining to the trade and manufacture of Indian fabric. One of us reckoned that this is where the cloth ended up having been displayed at the Great Exhibition of Britain 1851

I just checked what The 1851 one was all about:-

 

“Forgan says of the Exhibition that “Large, piled-up ‘trophy’ exhibits in the central avenue revealed the organisers’ priorities; they generally put art or colonial raw materials in the most prestigious place. Technology and moving machinery were popular, especially working exhibits.” She also notes that visitors “could watch the entire process of cotton production from spinning to finished cloth. Scientific instruments were found in class X, and included electric telegraphs, microscopes, air pumps and barometers, as well as musical, horological and surgical instruments.”]

Today stuff was crammed in and there was much reading to be done. Soft music was piped through and even more spiritual notes seeped through as we gawped at the golden threads and beetle-red cloth.

None of us experienced an overwhelming feeling of awe. We’d last met up at the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” experience/happening/floor show in the very same rooms. Nothing matched that. We’re all old enough to have been down the markets, into Green Street, Brick Lane, Walthamstow  and seen the rolls of fabric sold by cheery Asians calling us “darlin'” and “duckie”. We’d been to indigo-dyeing and Asian textile patterns and designs workshops and we wear Pashminas and glittery scarves. We all live in multi-cultural parishes and have done for years. A few of us have been to India and soaked up the religious and the colourful first hand. Some of us are Indian, Mauritian, Trinidadian. I’ll remember the massive wall-hanging found dumped on a New York side -walk, now displayed in its majesty in an alcove at Fabric of India.

I’ll remember the Christian tapestry with Jesus sporting a non-European visage.

And the fact that one of our party’s daughter-in-law has an installation in the garden.

The beauty of the exhibition was not lost on us and we agreed that the outing was a privilege.

The October sun was sometimes warm and we sat in the garden at The V&A and ate our packed lunches watching the pigeons on the tables and the crane above the roof.

Thank you again V&A.

The Jungle, Calais

superb humans

Home Is Where The Art Is

Around 4 weeks ago, I decided that slacktivism regarding the refugee crisis was not going to be enough for me. I wanted to understand the situation better, I wanted to go and see what it is that David Cameron is so terrified of, and above all, I wanted to help those stuck in this impossibly sad situation.

Thanks to social media, I did exactly what parents warn their children not to do. I met up with people I had only spoken to online, at 1 o’clock in the morning, and I got in their car, and we drove to a foreign country. Earlier in the evening, to calm my nerves, I had gone to a pub and had far too much wine for a school night. Everyone was telling me I was crazy for going, my parents were worried (understandably), and no one could understand why I would use…

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