High Street Seniors

Around Ramsay Road

Here is a walk I’m sharing, all to do with my exhibition for International Women’s Day 2018 with RAGWORKS and hung textile depictions of women many local to Up Your Street’s domain who are out there or have been out in the public arena doing remarkable things. Those women are Mrs Jenny Hammond, Dame Vera Lynn, (101 tomorrow!), Vera Maud Palmer, Dawn Butler, Hibo Wardere, Neech, Claire Weiss and Hyacinth Myers, all champions.

We’ll start at Vera Lynn Close, Dame to you, on Dames Road named after the landowner Richard Dames and feast our eyes at dusk on many notable buildings. We’ll see Uncle Tom’s Garage which was in the early C20th Gobbel’s Bakery, a German firm. In 1915 anti-German sympathisers smashed the windows.

Opposite there are listed buildings and on the same side the Church Of God, a legacy from rich Mr Rozier, a follower of the local Christian Israelites.

Pevensey Road has in it an old mission hall now developed by a Mr William Stevens to its former glory. It belonged to the church of St Margaret with Columbia off Cann Hall Road E11. Close by is the Wanstead Tap, a prize-winning beer venue under the rail arches. Much goes on under the  never-ending rail arches in the district.

Trumpington Road School and after that Lake House School existed off Ramsay and then was emptied and then was bought and a wonderful building  was built to house people with special needs. It is under threat of closure from the London Borough of Waltham Forest. I at first thought it were a retreat for Buddhist followers because it is tranquil in a road unworried by traffic and people. The area is confusing in that some is of Newham and some Waltham Forest.

Dames Road off-Licence, not salubrious but an ancient building judging by the fact that it appears in a Wanstead boating lake photo from1909 and having seen the moulded plaster decorations on its brickwork is a light on a dark night opposite the Wanstead Flats and its shrieking geese and marauding foxes and drunks.

We’ll look at the huge building on the corner of Dames Road and Cann Hall Road, What a sight. On an old ancient map, there is a label The Lodge on the same corner. I’m no historian but it could have been a hunting lodge in Henry V111’s reign. Could have being the Time Team phrase.

There’s Rookwood pub about to be developed and strange numberings of houses in Cobbold Road and the old bakery site now called Nevilles Close. All the while the sun will be setting in front of us by the MACE towers in Stratford. Cann Hall Road with increased pedestrian crossings, small pavement trees, chicken shops and a Londis. Cann Hall Road with an unobserved 20mph speed limit, changed pubs on stepped corners and two packed thriving schools.

We shall then go for our supper in a smart caff which stays open until 9pm.

What are we High Street Seniors like?20160422_143859.jpg

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Our Day Out

Seniors from Leyton and Forest Gate did the journey across London to a place near Penge and New Cross and Rotherhithe, all places far away. I always saw buses going to Penge and thought they were going to the seaside: Closet woman. The journey from outwith London to the other outwith London took ninety minutes as predicted. We were still in London I was assured but in East Dulwich, not a McDonalds to be found.

We found easily the Jennie Avent Gallery where Walthamstow artist Sba Shaikh was waiting for us with a spread of goodies and a cuppa.

The gallery caught the sun and plenty of passers-by looked through the windows with a curious stance. Anna had said she was there to learn. Patricia said she was interested in the artist’s philosophy. The exhibition on for two weeks is called “The Printed Veil” and so we expected mystery as the poster indicated and by the very connotations of the title itself.

Sba Shaikh is a textile printer and runs workshops by the dozen in Waltham Forest under the tick sheets of the Borough Council. Today she was independent of that, of a council far away in a feted Borough of Culture.

She guided us around her wall-hung works and installations. She explained the specialist inking techniques. She used an huge torch to illuminate the opaque material; the material of the eastern veil. We were greedy for more information. We were immersed in circles and swirls, myths and traditions. There were breasts and nose-rings, burquas and niqabs, netting and caps, and sumptuous metres of almost gossamer fabric. The art was crowded together in a small place. The place was relaxed with cushions on the window seats. We were in old shabby arty East Dulwich by the Village without a McDonalds or a KFC. Different world.

Sba grew from the melted pot of all cultures in Hackney. She dips into all cultures and sifts away what doesn’t sit comfortably in her kurta. We heard a lot about culture today: You can’t talk about the hijab without reference to Moslem “culture”. You can’t be that person without reference to your upbringing. Your art will dig deep into your psyche and culture rises powerful, all-pervading  like the proverbial cream on milk, shaping your words and giving you identity, richness. But we weren’t there to be educated again about Moslems in the UK, the myriad of different strands of believers and culture-carriers. We were there for the art, for the pleasure of looking at work done, for the aesthetic qualities, for colour, for shape, for perfected techniques. Sba allowed us to touch the material as her work IS tactile.

It was a good day.

Anti-university 2018 about to hAPPEN. Yay!

Well, it’s that time of the year when invisible seniors (who said that?) come out of their dens and play with the topical. This year we are going a stage further and telling it like it is. We’ll be sitting at the pool in our bathing suits, swimming costumes, beach-wear and itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis (doubtful on that last one. They don’t go past 18 month old baby sizes in Primark). We will be modestly attired or will we? Depends if fatty thighs offend. We call them thunder thighs ourselves for they have carried generations. It’s all about joining in, being seen and body image issues. Applaud that Gogglebox Gal.

After a dry-out we’ll don ladies’ long-length evening gloves and the men will sport bow-ties and we’ll be ready to view at a soiree of sorts. Mine’s a Baileys. Whoever sees old people having cocktails? On the telly? At the Freemason’s do and that’s hard enough to see? We’ll be doin’ a happenin’ because we are from the Beat generation, the hippy times, the anti-university, anti-establishment, revolution Levi’s rule generation.

Soon come. June 9th in Hackney.at the swimmconflictsoiree