There’s a big shindig happening in the London Borough of WTF all about swifts and creativity and Walthamstow Wetlands and E17 Art Trail and did we all know about it?
I heard someone saying they collected their Swift sticker from The Mill E17 and as I was not being addressed and being well brought-up I never said a word. By chance as I was browsing Eventbrite for local community events I came across the registration for 1000 Swifts Over Walthamstow and the acquisition of a Swift sticker. It really felt I was at someone else’s party but that is always the way of it re: Walthamstow. To join in, we’d make swifts. Well, the rafters at the Mill are stuffed with knitted swifts and graffiti marks the spot. So I’d already begun a RAGWORKS frame with refreshed textiles following the feather design on an image of a swift as I was getting ready for “Soft” at the Mill which by the way was another thing I heard about by having my ears on stalks. So I developed that art work in order to have a frieze in my window to join in. That’s all I’m doing…joining in.
I remember well my late sister being at primary school when the word “Nigger” was common parlance. Imagine! The end of term concert included a row of eleven year olds standing on a bench wearing what now we’d call Afro Wigs and were likely called fuzzy wuzzies then. My sister was well out of it as there weren’t enough wigs so she stood out with a blackened face and wavy light brown hair held off her forehead by a bow clip. That’s the way I seem to be at many places. Not quite the one they wanted.
Well well well.
Coatless and artily dressed, I bussed my way to Hoxton changing at Dalston Junction. Oh my. What a transformation to the lead up to the junction. Slum clearance completed, there are empty but modern dark green outlets ready for earthy retailers: If they could just do that along the parade of dross between Burwell and Sanderstead Roads in struggling to be Stokey, Leyton, houses would sell.
I stopped off to check out Oxfam on the Kingsland Road. That place is always floor to ceiling full of treasure.I found mine. Outside I saw a woman with her nose-ring glinting in Hackney’s finest sun and on her beautiful head she had hair, hair as thick as a bison’s, as matted as a buffalo’s and as glorious as ever intended. Being very polite, I walked two blocks before I turned around to spy more. Turning back, I bumped into the road-sweeper with flowers and baskets around her cart. Ain’t this just ‘Ackney?
Cocky me thought I’d find a pop-up shop about Lurve “almost opposite Geffrye Museum”. I frightened a traffic warden by being nice to him to ask him the way to number 93. The pop-up Love shop popped up by Headway East London was clean and welcoming in every way. We were to lino-cut and there was an apron all lovely and folded just for me. There were great pieces of art work well-curated on the walls all created by members of Headway who are victims of strokes and head traumas.
At one o’clock the workshop was done and my self-esteem was heightened. Bus 394 passed me by but the day was sunny and I had a pitta bread cheesie to munch before getting to The Angel. Uniformed four year olds were playing in the Geffrye House Museum grounds, The hipsters were maybe still in bed waiting for their bacon marmalade on ciabatta to appear because neither their pointy shoes nor laptops were evident on the street busy with buggy-wheeling grans. A young boy and girl, perhaps about seventeen, were nattering by the Museum railings and I overheard the boy say pitifully how he was so hungry having had nothing all day. I turned into “Home Alone”‘s pigeon lady and offered him my other pitta sarni. He declined. I turned away to shadow my phone to admire photos of my lino-cut. I heard a thud and turned to see the hungry boy flat out, skull-down on the clean pavement. His companion and I pulled him up as he came to and I saw his lips were pure white. The last time I saw that lip-draining was in Cologne Youth Hostel years and years ago when I looked at myself in the basin mirror after screaming the tower block down after two youths came out of the showers and attempted rape on me. Sacre Bleu.
The end of the boy incident was that the colour returned to his little cheeks and after a chat,I believed he’d had a diabetic black-out. BUT, not one of we three were carrying water. Lesson there.
Reached a very very busy lunch-time Angel to attend a Fawcett session at Claremont Project. That was pretty darned good. It was interactive and supportive.
The bus journey home was crazy. Somewhere on route someone from a bus upper-deck had called the police so a screaming sirened car was running alongside heavy school traffic searching for the right bus. It was frightening. It was well-controlled considering what mayhem could have ensued.
My bus was packed and very like a coach full of families returning from a seaside trip.
By seven, I’d tuned into LBC Radio to bludgeon with words May being interviewed by my dad look-alike. I turned to Twitter and enjoyed all the anti-May synonymous with anti-Tory retweets of my vitriole.
Then I ate Swiss Roll.
Wed May 10th free 12.30-3pm Mosaic-making at Cornerstone at 149 Canterbury Road E10 off Essex Road. Maybe a W15 bus.
free 11-1pm Tate Britain at Pimlico. Soapbox with BN Neu and Sylvia Hyde. Need to book online as there is space only for 25 over 60’s!
Thurs May 11th free 2-3pm
Animals in the Second World War Redbridge Central Library
Come along to this fascinating talk by Jef Page and find out how animals were key to the war effort, providing emotional support and helping people to survive.
Free, advance booking required at the library or by calling 020 8708 2417 or 0208 708 2414.
Sat May 13th free 10-4pm WORLD FAIR TRADE DAY “Join environmental support network, Sustainable Hackney, for a Fair Trade community event serving Fair Trade-only drinks, cake, biscuits and cream scones. Victoria Park Community Centre, Gore Road, E9 7HN.”
From the mural in Coppermill Lane to the Swifts in windows for The E17 Art Trail to the electronically tagged wrapped hens in Morrison’s it’s all about the birds. It is all about the Walthamstow Wetlands such that when, at Hilary’s Tuesday’s Sociable Sewing yesterday, when it was warm and sunny, M proposed we make a quilt and a group almost decided to pay homage to Walthamstow Wetlands by appliqueing swifts on a sheet. Theft of chickens by the poor of the borough was talked about and we were aghast amongst the pinking shears, pink flowers and pink piping. On the walls behind us were geese in acrylic, winged shapes on lino-cuts, and black knitted swifts in the rafters. That is the Wonder of the Wetlands aka Wonderful Wetlands.
I spied the cat amongst the …er..pigeons. Hassan’s work caught my eye, coloured my senses, made me gasp, made me urgent in my tracks to covet the pink cat next to a fluffy bottom of a heron. The background was sharp and industrial, urban and vast. The painting’s title was long and poetic. The painting IS of the Wetlands; the mysteries and wonder of nature in a wild place soon to be full of visitors and lo and behold, children. We are voyeurs looking through Bent grass to see birds and foxes, herons and cats at work.
Back in the room we debated the journey of a quilt put together by women learning foundation stitching and adoring tiny prints on tiny cotton samples. Should the quilt be as large as The Mill table? Where would it really end up? The word quilt vanished and was replaced by “wall-hanging” and then applique showed its mistress head and tada..embellishments. Now we were moving into RAGWORKS territory. How would the integrity of a sewing group known for its ease and acceptability, drop-in nature, do-as-you-please nature survive a transformation into a group work needing homework and commitment and the possibility of excluding those who were not ready to be part of another women’s quilting group. Who would sew? Who would go?
The point of the group and any informal non-professional group in a community hub is surely the getting together of people. those from Venus in the main, and a chance to laugh, talk and chat, jaw and natter. We don’t do that over the garden fence anymore. Workshop facilitators worth their plaster of Paris, or their crocheted wire know that. Seamless Seams and Songololo were not about to produce decorations for a Town Hall. The glory of an amateur accomplishment is charming and always an indication that someone somewhere had a positive vibe going on, is evolved through social grouping and natural selection. And of course the beauty of any amateur wall-hanging and quilt, installation and experience is in the eyes of the makers, rarely the uninvolved recipients.
The nature of a group can be fragile but its integrity related to its title needs to be respected.
So I left my spacious sun-lit room, donned my creased red summer jacket, prepared for the hour journey with my sewing project in my crocheted plastic hold-all, stood at my front door and asked myself “Why are you going to the Mill when you can sew on your own table at home?” “To be Sociable”.
Monday 24th April free 2-3pm. Teachers event at Active Change Foundation, Lea Bridge Road next to the Mosque above Tesco’s learning about emotions and pupils. Teachers? Up your Street curious ones are joining in via Eventbrite.
free. Last chance to see the Wetlands installation at the Mill E17
Fri 28th April free 2.30-4 at Leytonstone Library “Mystery and art” with Artkeys. Bring old photos.
free 5.30pm Stratford Library screening “The Birth Of a Nation”
Sat 29th April free register at Eventbrite for a free screening of “Moonlight” at Canning Town Library 5pm
All happening my way. A cavalcade of hooting cars just passed by. Hope they’re protesting about the closing of estate roads hereby. Earlier in the day during the Corrie Omnibus I saw a whole gaggle of people slowly passing up the adjacent road and guessed by their hats that the Jehovah Witnesses were abroad. I decided I’d invite them in because Trump had said something vile about Jehovahs and I wanted to show my mercy.
I forgot about all of that as Tracey and her family came to blows. The doorbell rang and I said to myself that that must be the postie with my buttons from China. Caught I was as three devout Christians stood at my door with Sunday smiles on a Saturday and clipboards. I dreaded the call to prayer but stopped my nastiness and said I’s answer their doorstep questions. These visitors at my threshold were not Jehovah’s people but folk from the nearby singing church who were finding out about the community and would soon discover a high Moslem content. I know that soon I will get another call as they have my name and address. Bovvered? Not. I went into full swing with a captive heads bowed audience and stated that as a non-believer I saw the community value of the Church as a meeting point for everyone to come out of the cold and push away their loneliness and isolation and that a little singing with gusto and clapping brings joy.
Many seniors find company at their church and a couple of senior Moslems who join in Up Your Street activities delight in the joy of communal curry laden lunches at their mosques. Most church people I know enjoy finger-licking chicken peppered by their African congregations on a Sunday regularly. As long as people are brought together then communities have a chance to protect their own when the day arrives.
Churches accommodate craft fairs and art exhibitions and candle-making and sometimes meditative navel watching. They are usually huge halls with smaller rooms and corridors about. I went to dance expression at St John at Hackney and there we were stretching our calves on stone-cold floors in a tiled corridor. Crazy. The nest week I went to creative writing around a table in the same corridor. I was the only participant. Luckily I drowned my shock by visiting Sainsbury’s opposite to buy fig rolls for the bus journey back to sanity.
Last night seniors got together to taste Jerk Chicken, Pork, and the rest at Butler’s Bakery in Cann Hall Road. We turned out to be a group of twelve from all areas: Some came from Ilford and Romford, one from Walthamstow, a few from Leyton and Leytonstone and then those from Hoxton area and beyond. What a smashing time we had. One queen sent back her fish because it wasn’t big enough for her. Imagine. But nothing was really soured for the joy of coming together clouded everything else. Some of us stuffed ourselves to the brim. The food was that good at what is really a small bakery corner-shop. On the pavement outside the owner was dishing up Jerk Chicken and salads to punters coming back from work. Someone’s daughter came by on her bike just to wave hello to a group of women who don’t usually eat out together let alone empty their purses…but they will now. Some of the group are practising artists so were doing sales across the tiny tables measured for nine people only. Port and rum punch heightened the spirits.
It’s hard to get together sometimes. People are busy and always want to meet but it’s difficult always what with people fasting, observing prayers, lacking cash, having to sort out them indoors, being tired so it’s all glory when we can get together and when we find a homely place which is welcoming and ready to accommodate seniors with respect. So we’re doing it.
Still obstacles in the way like people not being able to access a menu online to peruse what’s on offer and those who don’t use their diary and confuse the dates. Ah, but it all works out.
Here’s a potato print just celebrating an achievement.
It’s great to support local businesses when they support us. Our eatery is Butler’s Bakers aka Chef’s Corner up Cann Hall Road, an up and coming road lined with Victorian terraces sitting on dark and damp cellars selling at three quarters of a million now.
As I write a New Orleans Restaurant in which I dined and which was then flattened by Hurricane Katrina is being given the four-letter once-over by wotsisname Ramsay on telly. Aah, Mississippi grub.