Last Saturday , nearly a week ago I self-isolated as I was exhausted from two busy working weeks. Before I settled to Voice UK. I grabbed my coat and pass. card and keys, mobile and specs and faithful trolley to make the Co-Op. I was on a mission for my isolated family and for my crisp addiction. Successful veg and fruit trip and some essentials like reduced loaves and pork pies.
I am so overwhelmed by being indoors because I have so much on the go and pump up my energy with water and tomatoes. Must be good for you. Today, pissed off with a creative shadowing me and finding out that the sun is not coming out and another of my flock has gone off radar. Sad but true and I can’t take on any others’ problems and their mental health issues. Majorly angry at Johnson and his waffling half-baked strategies.
Another project started last week is Positive In Crisis where I tap into seniors’ experiences of all the crazy art workshops we’ve attended over 13 years and the free art exhibitions to see the famous and infamous old masters forever and smatterings of black newcomers. It’s all at Facebook so seniors aren’t looking in that much but I motivated ten Up Your Street enthusiastic for one hour participants. Sandra’s beavering away. Jasmine’s finding her fabrics and Glenys wants direction. We’ll do this art through the quarantine period and exhibit in the autumn. I remain positive, There is no other way to be.
Added on to Cyberspace at Facebook where I deleted some other pages including my boring Self_Isolation Diary 2020 is Homing In where retired teachers at Up Your Street can relay confidence to home-schooling parents as they enter a world they left behind years ago before they used schools as mothers. Not an easy task to learn ’em kids indoors.
The deathly quiet Osier Project is in reclusive state. My sister and I researched till our eyes bled and realised those who gave interest were not pitching in. Can’t keep flogging dead horses. Got viruses to fight.
News on a loop with experts giving their takes on whatever the Government waffles out. Bee Gees on telly full blast. Bra off (in self-isolation). Tea in mug. Excited about something.
In 2013 I helped to clear out a Walthamstow post-code E10 flat on Lea Bridge Road or was it a Leyton address with an E17 post-code. It was certainly on the E17 Village boundary. Hallowed ground for a des.res.
I found and claimed two Victorian samplers which any museum in London will tell you are two a penny.I cherished them and for a while they were in exhibition at Walthamstow Girls’ School and without explanation were totally foreign to the school population which represented multi-cultural teenage Britain.
I began some internet researching and found a photo of an aged lady with the same name as the child embroiderer/sampler. At the time, to me the surname/family name was unusual but it’s not. There was nothing to see by the photo except an obituary. I researched more and found that the police constable at Vestry House when it was a police station bore the same name as my child sampler and after all the embroidered stuff was found in E17.I presumed the guy was the father and to this day I cannot find that article I read about him. I will. I cannot use Vestry as I don’t like the place or the quietness.
So years passed and I had infrequent conversations by email with a long-neglected sister. Last week I asked her to find some information about my girl.
My sister is ace at Ancestry UK. We have done other projects together and been successful.
Remember we are both self-isolating and we work into the early hours when our eyes are smarting and watering.
After many leads where the dates could not match and errors by Govt. clerks obviously published years ago she. my sister found the glorious family tree. The dad was the constable. Our girl died at 100 years old.
We are now searching for the grandchildren and am at a glitch right now as one daughter-in-law died childless. Heir hunters. I will hand over the samplers. There will be no flourish. Only 50 somethings and better get excited by family history. This isn’t even my family. That’s one of terror and abuse.
There are many bits and pieces to prove such as who really had the samplers in the flat in the scullery? The constable being at Vestry is not totally proved but the girl is found.
Things to do whilst a virus rages.
Up Your Street issue 1. Jan 2020
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Sat. Jan 4th FREE 10-12 noon. Hale End Library
“Art With Sue”. Series of exploratory art. Booking at Eventbrite. Some already booked through me.
Sun Jan 5th FREE 11a.m. Tate Modern exhibition Olafur Eliasson. Book by emailing me. Up Your Street subscribers only.
FREE. 2-3.30PM Guided tour of Abney Park Cemetery. Book at Eventbrite.
Happy New Year
Three of us met at Streetlife Radio which became StreetlifeFM.It was down in St James area down the bottom of Walthamstow Market. Age UK probably Age Concern then invited through a posh white woman advert in the local paper 50+ people to do a course in radio producing and presenting. Four years later I said to a mate “What does Age UK actually do?” She said “They gave us a radio course”. Put me in my place. Four years later she said to me, ” I am leaving volunteering for Age Concern because they don’t care if I come or not. Do you know how much the director earns? I will do one more year to get my ten year gift then leave.”
He He. Say it like it is.
Ten turned up and the clever radio peeps from outwith the borough sent us to do vox pops. We saw rats roaming in broad daylight by where the buses turn and pounced on anyone to get practice in turning on and off the mic. Back at the studio aka a back room on site we processed our work. I remember most people were not ofay with using a mouse. Rats and mice. We were sent into a hall while three people at a time were using the three edit machines. So Up Your Street was born as three of us way back then and younger chatted about why we came to a radio station. We exchanged contact details but I was the only one with an email address. Thirteen years on and the other two women still don’t have an email address. One doesn’t have a mobile phone and the other doesn’t communicate with me anymore despite having seven phones. Seven!
The main mission of Up Your Street was to motivate seniors to use emails and therefore the internet. Failed that, huh? They’d receive bulletins weekly by email about free events and activities for seniors around the QEOP.
I wrote with a biro to both women and from there and other promoted by me activities the organisation expanded through collecting email addresses. I wanted to set up another platform called “4Diversity: Together As One” but two women fought over who’d be the accountant. Turned out no-one had an email address anyway. I sighed.
From the radio course two of us went to level 2 radio presenting situated at Chat’s Palace in those days when the toilets were manky and the front door was a thief’s delight which was that badly taught and managed so that everyone passed. One of my colleague’s does her own magazine radio show weekly since those heady days. Dedicated. The others vanished into the crowd. Two opened another radio station later. Who knows what piles up in Cyberspace?
In 1986 I was at a Leyton school meeting with the head and another teacher present whilst we awaited the members of a larger group. A conversation was flowing agreeably. I answered someone:-
“Yes, I am multi-cultural”.
“Why do you see yourself as multi-cultural?”
“Because I just am. I’m aware of everything around me”.
I wasn’t sure whether the questioner were trying to trip me up or think of a question to ask hopeful interviewees for jobs in the school.
Akala said how all his life he is aware of racism. Myself too. And I taught the next generation down as much as I could. I stopped my sister almost my age, brought up in the same neighbourhood, from using racist words.
Myers tells us about her own mother who married outside her people, tribe, and suffered not necessarily because of her or her man’s racism but certainly she put her own mixed race children into a vipers’ den, into a 1980s era of Racist London as was, is now and ever will be despite laws, despite mixing up.
People say stupid ignorant things and somehow expect me to let them pass.
All my personal peers, not my friends, are racist and not multi-cultural. I am always on alert and always have been. I have supported people put into difficult personal positions because of their colour. I have been in those positions myself.
So Akala and Myers, well done. Your writings could not be clearer.
Where I live is in the bosom of art trails. Sandwiched between the cleavage are parishes without such jollies. It’s all about anxious artists wanting to stamp their places on paving stones. It’s art with fierce promotion reaching out to other artists because everyone I talk who’s not dabbling in acrylics and rags hasn’t a clue about art trails, community art and any art.
You have to fork out readies to be included in a brochure. Whoopee. Facebook picks up more footfall.
Some art -trails have so much on that you have to sit down and plan out your route and hope that on your personal artogy you feel up to it and that the sun doesn’t drive you into the shade of an art caff where you’ll find an excuse to stay all day. Chumming along is good because you can mutter “Mmm” to another quizzical face. But looking at art alone by yourself is a meditative experience, spirit-raising.
I wanted people to see my art, so booked it into a caff after agreeing to down-size my work for the smaller walls. To get a tableful of my peers to munch amongst acrylics and recycled textiles was very difficult let alone the angst of having to remind the café to put up my work. Had to be done and now it’s done I question the whys and wherefores and I won’t join in again.
Someone else’s party.
Get rid of the assumption that all white people think the same and all black people think the same. Cast away any negative that some commentaries at some events demonise the white or other race. Today was a learning day on a boat with one hundred and ninety-nine other people with those being mainly of African-Caribbean heritage. It was fantastic.
It was all of that because it was well-organised and strict. We were on a boat up and down the Thames so no mucking about. Everyone had paid their £35 tickets, had arrived in time as warned and expected to be entertained and taught something.
What wonderful hosts. What a lovely welcome and what a trip.
The boat was packed. It was no way a luxury craft. The upstairs deck was for standing only and downstairs was cramped. No-one took off their coats so I think it was chilly.
There were no refreshments except bar-fare. Those who needed and wanted a chair got one.
The commentary by Steve Martin was ace in that it showed much thorough research and was delivered via tannoy with an informal and engaging tone. Steve had a wealth of snippets of information up his coat-sleeve.
Up Your Street seniors were out in force writing notes and taking in all the information, turning their heads to port, to starboard, hearing the names of un-celebrated “Negroes”. and nasty slavers. We learnt again about eighteenth century literate lawyers from African and Caribbean descent and Africans pining for home. Historic women writers of colour were brought to life by today poets and contributors in costume. How fabulous.
Books and writings were continually recommended as we sat amongst Black activists in this our twenty-first century, dames, and writers, agitators and book-sellers, Windrush and before descendants, artists and museum guides, senior staff in London schools and Auntie Thomasina Cobbly and all.
London by boat is fine at anytime, Today the bridges looked majestic and the glass of the City Of London forced us to reflect on the fact that the City was built on the riches of sugar and slaves. Those rich Georgian traders included astute but now immoral people of colour who worked alongside watermen and a maritime workforce and their bosses; often employers full of viciousness and able to treat their servants like churlish dogs.
Aah, but we know much of this now. The high rating we gave this event was down to the welcome, the inclusiveness and generous invitation and the fact that human stories were brought to life through Steve and others’ accounts of the lives of people who were just “lodgers, if that”. Black people in London over five hundred years.