Hugs All Around Today

How many Christmas dinners will I get to where the seniors don’t take off their coats, come in with their trollies, and the men leave on their caps and hats? Today I had a dinner which was cold and over-cooked, where the vegetables tasted of salmon and the roasties were anaemic. Yesterday my friend went to a free Christmas dinner for old people where the pudding had such sugar over-load that you would not think we had a diabetes panic in the UK. When she , a godly person, mentioned how uglily sweet the dish was she was sounded out with lines along be grateful for what you got. I say NO. Do a job and do it properly. Don’t give cold dinner to the poor of the parish. Think about healthy living as though you were feeding your own parents or children.

So far, the Antic pub dinners have outstripped all else in the realm of freebies for the old.

It was interesting for me to reflect on the bus coming home how as children, my age group and older had school parties where we took our own teaspoon for the jelly, ate cheese and cress crusty rolls, managed chocolate cornflake crispies and had a treat of entertainment and often a projected cine-film of a cartoon where my dad was the projectionist, where the prism of floating dust beaming from the projector to the rolled white screen was fascination itself. The format for we as kiddies and we in the waiting room of life or the spurt in the second wind for the Party is the same.

Yes Antic pubs responded to my request for Up Your Street seniors to have a free Christmas dinner in their dark and warm saloons and we did well. Of course we had to stand in line behind Age Uk as they command dates to suit their minibus drivers. I patiently waited for the date changes whilst seniors waited in the wings to get the go-ahead,

For another date, we have an invitation again to a school where the young students experience working as hosts for their elders and the school can be confident that their self-description as ‘community schools’ is valid.

Many seniors do not want to partake of a freebie because in many areas seniors are comfortable. For Up Your Street I know that many seniors need the meeting up, the human warmth and the FELLOWSHIP.


All that talk

So much in the news all year about including seniors in everyone’s plans and lives then you go along to a Newham nursery and find out the council moved the seniors along to the library where before the toddlers and seniors interacted quite nicely thank you in a purpose built community centre: Obviously the building and the seniors were not fit for purpose. And then in come Age UK’s ad on telly all about a miserable-looking old man being lonely. He needs to buy a telly with more than five channels, join the two fifths of old people who have telly for company and accept that. There is no parallel universe where your clone is happily conversing with all your jolly neighbours. Life is suckable. Then along comes the gravy advert to entice the family kitchen woman to invite in that live-alone neighbour who eats alone. Almost pathetic. I am only disturbed because AGE UK thinks it has all the old-age situations covered and in its trumpet-blowing saga then does a great job spending thousands on its own adverts and the fact that even the gravy-makers jump on the old as problematic charabang to sell their cornflour dust.


Up Your Street is on a free from email listings to its subscribers for another six months or so. That’s because there are many interns listing up community hub events online so in Up our Street’s eyes there’s an opportunity for seniors to find events and activities then to share with others. That’s the theory.

Up Your Street is as a dead pigeon. Community centres attended by its subscribers have staff who care not a jot about the fact that Up Your Street is neither promoting nor using the venues. They should be wooing Up Your Street and its mass of seniors. Over the past months Up Your Street has supplied audiences for events; there is a caught audience ready to join in and be part of the tick-sheet “Have you included the community in all your projects?” However when it comes to keeping up the relationship in its embryonic state between consumer and supplier, the supplier, in this case funded by the council or the lottery, community projects, Up Your Street keeps in the eye-line but always the supplier drops Up Your Street and certainly NEVER responds to emails. Talk about being invisible.

Of course much of the time the suppliers are Council employees waving like a victory flag their brief to include old people in the community and knocking off at four after a three day week. The commitment vanishes away from the desk. All that talk, eh?

They should be wooing Up Your Street. There are big enterprises who continually refuse to recognise that Up Your Street is also on the playing field caring about seniors’ welfare and that’s because they are afraid their funders will take away the money if they collaborate or lose the enterprise’s integrity and identity. Gawd, eh?

As many Up Your Street seniors say and have said over the last ten years,

“They don’t care if we come or not. We are just part of their forms and tick-sheets. They should be chasing after us.”

They should be wooing us.

The Tom Hood School

Tom Hood School arose from the old Cobbold Schools in 1925. Yesterday was a day of guided tours for ex-pupils. I went along although I never attended that school but as a newcomer to the area, was curious about an old old massive towering miserable looking building which was built up after most of Cobbold Road was demolished in the early part of the twentieth century to make way for it. I was told that by a long term resident in Cobbold Road, George, once of Neville Bakeries in Harrow Road. The railway was already there by then.

I passed the St Margaret’s with Saint Columbia Church next to a glorious Tabernacle church on Woodgrange Road and into Terling Close with the school in sight behind mesh electrically-controlled gates. A new purpose built school Buxton has just been built enabling the old Tom Hood School to be demolished necessarily in January 2018.

Our party was ten and excellently guided by a senior member of the school who had in place students on escort duties. From the old canteen we went into classrooms on the same floor with a purple and green colour scheme and then up to the first floor all decked out in glossy orange paint. The second floor built later than the original building comprising internal brick walls was blue and then the special treat was to see and explore the view from the school roof where a greenhouse had met its glassy demise and huts well past their glory stood upright in faded beach-hut colours.

What a view from the roof and on a November day what a blue sky. The experience was just amazing. We could see right across the Wanstead Flats and all over the old rooftops of many many terraced houses all built over a hundred years ago because of the incoming of the railways. A typical house along Dames Road now goes up for sale at £550,000. It’s easier to move out of the place than to move in as said by Bob the caretaker at Buxton School aka for today as Tom Hood School.

The rest of the visiting party for the 11 am scheduled one had many laughs and memories. It was an emotional visit for all of us. Our host enjoyed the outpourings too. She has managed to save one building on the grounds to be the headquarters for a community-use area and talked of community use in terms of clubs and meetings and even a Farmer’s Market.

One of our party had been one of the cohort named as the Millenium Year, the graduates of 2000 , and revealed the place where a time capsule had been buried. So let’s hope it gets secured again in January when the downing begins.

In the old playground I espied behind the safety fence on a wall the old stone plaque describing the laying of the foundation stone in 1899 to mark the Cobbold Schools inauguration as commanded by the Wanstead School Board. What a treasure.

Our host and guide took us into the new Buxton sports hall to see the difference. Yes it was absolutely magnificent. The students vacate Tom Hood at the end of the year, Demolition begins in 2018 and by May the community area will be landscaped and all the beautiful trees saved.

I’m not sure the local residents share my excitement about the changing built area in a vastly-changing area anyway with folk moving in from Hackney and Leyton. The sale of houses has quietened down. Some of the houses are 1970 film set look alikes and many need tlc. Having said that the charm is magnetic; the stairs are often steep and narrow in those Victorian/Edwardian abodes. The thing I loved too about the old school building was the non-steep and very wide steps and there were many of them reaching to the roof. The whole building was light because there was so much glass in the form of paned windows all over the place and all intact, There were painted over wooden banisters and balconies, old school photographs on the walls and possibly 1954 display cabinets of natural wonders from the forest and Flats. There were scratchings on pupil entrance brick walls; autographs from 1957 and more.

What a place! Remember when George Mitchell School was demolished overnight recently . Me? I want to see the dust rise from the downing of Tom Hood, like old chimneys falling down on ancient pre-loved stone houses in Westray. Something to look forward too.

Thank you Buxton Community staff for the magnificent opportunity to see a major physical part of history in its last stages of glory and warmth. RIP Tom Hood School.



Today.  eight months later. Maggie and I displayed my community art project called Lullaby.

Getting a space at Hackney Central Library was not easy as the powers who flout that power seem to have changed the word ‘community’ to ‘in-house’ with a programme of set events and habitual Hackney sponsored outfits such that others haven’t a chance especially when the management takes their time to reply to requests. I have displayed community projects many times at the venue but am surely not one of the favoured few. Bovvered? This morning Maggie and I were not greeted let alone noticed so we just got on with it.lull arthus

Lullaby is a project which lent on the memories of seventy year olds and better who subscribe to Up Your Street. The response was poor and the best ones were verbal rather than by email with the very best response being a full hand-written account of the place of lullabies in a working class background.

I wanted to know which lullabies the seniors’ mothers/parents sang to their siblings and which they sang to the generations below them. Their answers inspired me to create collages, acrylic paintings, textiles at RAGWORKS and doilies. I was led into internet sites to discover more and to re-inforce to myself that I was wanting authentic tales.

Many memories are buried deep under shopping lists and painful stuff, images off telly and are left in unvisited corners.

“Rock A Bye Baby” was the most known lullaby and I had to probe to find out if people really sang the verse to babies or were just invading a memory bank. Betty Clayden wrote down the relevant words from Hiawatha’s Song. From that point I remembered songs I borrowed from Inuit and First Nation’s People music. I searched the internet too to find the real words rather than the ones I offered at bedtime.

Cuca emerged representing the common lullaby in South America and as I was painting so the civil unrest exploded in Venezuala and I was in touch with exiles from the torn country.2017-08-26 21.22.01

The yellow doillies are a homage to Hiawatha and his Song with its beautiful words  and imagery. Real feathers adorn the rounds encompassing European and Japanese music scores and titles.

The RAGWORKS “Shoal” represents in recycled textiles the little fishes on the little dishes in “When The Boat Comes In” a song softly sung to babies and used as a theme tune on a TV series, “The Likely Lads”. Thanks to Margaret Houlihan for loaning that to the exhibition.Fishes on Dishes RAGWORKS

Special words related to lullabies and mothers spring up such as “hush” and “cuddle”, “comfort” and “slumber”.

There is a set of four canvases representing the lullaby morphed from the popular folk song all about a young woman bemoaning her married life.  Of course the song is more likely the prayer of a child-bride The theory is that many mothers sang lullabies as a form of catharsis and confession in order to release their feelings about an unwanted domestic life.lulla mug

The Butterflies collage is a reference to The Lullaby Project in the Orkneys which highlighted the butterflies as the  dead souls of buried children in unmarked graves in Ireland.

What’s The Point?

So irritating to me. It’s nigh on Black History Month. I think the theme is maybe this year Caribbean Memories. I watched Great Western Railway’s latest telly ad with my mouth open. It’s based on The Famous Five books and shows Five having an Adventure. It’s 1950 England so not a hint of multi-cultural UK. What’s the point? Puts me off totally because for sure there’s a target client and I sure as hell don’t want to be included as and presumed to be part of that clientele. If anything, I don’t want to travel on a route which seems to exclude as paying customers my neighbours and myself. I checked Twitter to see the photos of Production at Tate. I was there: Couldn’t have been whiter.

It’s nothing to do with there not being enough BME actors or sufficient stock photos showing people of colour or an inadequate supply of people from all backgrounds coming through the doors. The  prick is at the director stage whether that director be in a major art gallery or at a telly company and how that person demands the promotion of the publicly owned venues and private companies. It’s keeping the establishment nice and happy and its members living the 1950 dream. It’s the way they tell ’em.


Production at Tate Modern

Today some intrepid Up Your Street seniors found their way to meet BN Neu in the Blaveknik building at Tate. A great day, weather-wise, not too hot and not raining, a 56 bus on diversion which was even better because we saw roads we’d heard of but never smelt and a great welcome which left us fiddling with our Apps stores on our mobiles as we were introduced to interactive art through stations along a  ceramics pottery factory workers’ lines.20170928_120757.jpg20170928_120807.jpg20170928_124018 (1).jpg20170928_123906 (1).jpg

It was a professionally staged experience with the doors opening on time, a clean and airy Tate Exchange floor and smiling assistants. We punched in our time cards put on our aprons and set to it making pots with slip and moulds or flowers with the finest ever porcelain clay all guided by teachers. When we’d made a piece we had it scanned and recorded then swapped the wet one for a biscuit fired other work.

What a fine thing that was, What a concept to actually materialise and deliver and it was great to see Emily from Soapbox as she’d been a mover and shaker in the whole production of Production.

My Day Out

A day and a half it was. To start with the buses were on diversion so good that it was fine and dandy, weather-wise. My first adventure was taking part in a community hub’s seniors’ fashion parade under the title International Day. I’d cooked jollof rice and black-eye bean fritters as an offering and my plantain ‘dodo’ had been gobbled up by my family before I’d opened the plastic containers in which to transport it. So what. They come first and before any group of strangers.

I suspect that a mostly very white audience and a ninety-nine per cent white staff  were starting a journey through a little bit of tokenism as they clapped along to efnik music tracks and watched the smattering of foreigners amongst the membership strut their national costumes on a catwalk. I think someone said that the glaring evidence of non-diversity amongst the membership was not solved and so the lid was opened and out popped multi-culturalism in all its 1980 thrills of international food, exotic patterns and nods to cultural facts.

Quietly spoken women became lionesses when walking past silent other women, those in the community hub audience. They had home dresses to wear and show. They used dance moves to fill their one minute and forty five seconds of showing off and having fun. They were from all different parts of the world. They engaged with the audience.

Whatever the motives, there was a togetherness. The organisation was supreme.

The choice of MC was very good. The camera flashing was perpetual.

I changed into my civvy clothes and rushed onto any bus to get me eastward and after a Mars Bar to help me work, rest and play reached Chef’s Corner although it’s known as something else too. This is a Leytonstone eaterie on a corner next to traffic fumes and noise. Twelve of we seniors were going as “Ladies Who Jerky” to munch the night away á la Caribbean fare. I’d already primed the owner with hand-written clear lists of names and menu choices and even place-cards exposing the choices of food for all to see. Well. that was a waste of time as the waiting staff and chef hadn’t a clue. The service was poor. The curry goat was delicious. The rice ‘n’ peas was stale. The fish was spice-less and over-cooked. The macaroni-cheese was tepid, badly presented and mostly hard. Nothing was glorious.

We paid our money and left.

Lo and behold, there was an end-of-day bus diversion as something had happened on a major highway. Either a gunning, a knifeing, a road traffic accident or a mains water-burst. We’ll know tomorrow.

And to top it all, no Corrie today because of football.

Most people don’t know how to complain in a restaurant. I do but I didn’t because the state was beyond saving. I never wanted confrontation at any point in the evening either. Only I left a tip out of custom and pity.

Tomorrow it’s breakfast at Tiffany’s, I mean Lamb’s Café to thrash out how seniors can be a presence in community radio.

I’d painted some of our Ladies Who Jerky and presented their pictures. One lady forgot to appear tonight so never received her portrait.

Clouds, silver linings. Rainbows, pots of gold. Life.ppaddyangela ayemobasal 3details Jananna 22017-08-18 12.39.45