The old George Mitchell School in Farmer Road Leyton London had as its motto “More Is In me” and I would say that not one student attending there in the nineties let alone the staff ever knew there were a motto. Well, this weekend I went from being jaded at workshops where sucking eggs was more illuminating to feeling rejuvenated at a local tile-making workshop this evening.
Phototherapy aka sticking photos in a journal and going through the angst of memories in front of an amateur therapist and her mates did not inspire me. A Black History Month council driven healthy eating jamboree where fifteen folk arrived to partake of smoothies and African hand-me-down recipes altered for an international market delivered by earnest mothers come business women touting for exposure and business left me disappointed. I was angry that for eleven years Up Your Street subscribers have attended healthy eating courses and one-offs and listened to the dangers of not eating from that healthy-eating platter and feigned interest at growing your own to stave off Diabetes Type 11 . Stave off? Starve off? Today a couple of African ingredients and veggies were added to the mix because it’s October. We were still at a networking party to showcase individual wannabees in that great Tory do it for yourself challenge as austerity brings out the self-employed in us. Up Your Street’s The Pamper Shop was well before its time but borne of the join-in spirit of London 2012. Now everyone’s on the same yoga mat.
A good spirit was exhaled by the sole organiser/Mistress of Ceremony who drove energy and order into the marketplace.
The joy was in meeting up with ten others from Up Your Street who never de-robed from their winter coats but managed to carry along with their scarves and shopping bags paper boats full of avocado cake and fried posh bread, doughballs and apple fritters.
I witnessed bad manners. Women grappled with others to get a sweet like Roses were going out of fashion. A councillor was interrupted in her preachy flow by a woman arguing that without a garden, man, you can’t grow veg. True that. The only white woman there actually initiated the dance when the Congolese trio’s drum major invited us to dance and caused a flurry of gasps as years of stereotyping jaw-dropped to the floor and “White Men Can’t Jump” sailed by on the flaps of an Ethiopian flag.
A woman full of herself dressed in her Shalwar Kameez was deemed to be an expert on every Asian infused dish. Good job Uzman wasn’t brought to the stage as she never ever cooks and wouldn’t be able to tell her nan ingredients from her chapatti ones. And no, fish ‘n’ chips isn’t what white English women slave over in their kitchen. Stereotypes are offensive and ignoring men in the kitchen is not going away when only mothers are promoted as lunch-box fillers.
We have not moved on, people. We are still back in the day, back in 2012 when every nation in London’s developing and changing east was recognised and embraced, given platforms to outdo each other and then side-lined to curl back into their private lives for eleven months of the year.
We left all of that and ate sugary biscuits and drank milky coffee,
Back into the real world of penny-pinching and sticking to what we always do, some of us joined others at Canons Farm Kitchen. Now, here’s a story to make your hair curl. Eat your crusts. Canons Farm Kitchen is the recent name for what was Butler’s Bakery in Cann Hall Road Leytonstone. When I first saw it from the bus two years ago, I thought it was an artisan bakers in my head full of gentrification spawning into parts that others beards never reach. I investigated further and found that it was a West Indian baker’s shop with steam spouting from a vent through a huge scummy blue wall. I bought some hard-dough bread and resented paying more than £1.50 for the loaf. Things happened from then on like Ladies Who Jerky spending an evening there and RAGWORKS being invited to hang art-work. Managers and chefs changed hands. I also followed an outfit online whose writers described the blue wall of Canons, also called at one point Chef’s Corner, as an eye-sore and I also knew that the wall was private property. It belonged and belongs to a family business.
Imagine the neighbourhood’s shock to know that the Council is forking out £40000 to make that wall pretty.
Casting aside prejudice and principles, we went to the inaugural tile-making workshop to be part of the movement of commoners, preferably local ones, to make tiles decorated with outlines of types of bread like hard-dough! which will be mounted over the flaking blue distemper in Selby Road to create something for the future, a marker proving ! that the community represents migration and tolerance and all things fair and that the courts are on the level and that the ladder of justice has no top and no bottom.
It was fantastic. It was in a glittery space with 1960s soul playing softly on the radio behind the aspidistra, Sue created a Mauritian bread, Sara moulded a croissant with striking Henry Moore shapes. Two sisters honoured their Scots ma by revering her traditional island bakery produce. Some did chapatti and one a paninni. Blue and white are the colours and pride was our end-product.
Twas good. More is in me.
Some of we seniors continue rolling the clay in November. We are the community.
Spoiler alert, just hope the council finds money for the scaffolding or those fired tiles will be going nowhere.