Back in the game.

I never sew RAGWORKS unless my world is in order. I never paint a picture unless my area is cleared and I certainly never solve a maths problem until I’ve done the washing up. So it was over these past months that I was house-sitting and cat-minding during others’ vacations. I was in strange surroundings and there was never enough washing up to get done. I was floundering in space. I was unsteady in myself so if someone had said “And how are you in yourself?” I’d have said, “Unsettled”.

Today the labourers are in and in and out with wheelbarrows and dirt and precious earth as I have a rotten fence downed and new fences erected. One part of the boundary was enough for me to fly a red for danger flag. But the cats still walked along the rim and made a small vibration. My solicitor warned me that I’d pay thousands if that wall so much as stroked a human on its way down. My house is in order and the men are controlling the unknown outside so I feel ready to write. The word “controlling” has enough weights dragging along.

Last night in the darkness I was coming home. A man sneezed very loudly. A young woman in the dark turned and gave him a bad look. He was behind her and quickened his pace. “The next one you’ll catch!” he hollered at the poor slip of a thing. I decided to walk on the other side of the road but with a protective eye on someone young enough to be my grandchild. And yes, I would have run my hulk over the protect her from any danger. The man turned his head to me and by his stumbling I knew he was drunk. He disappeared. I realised he was urinating behind a car. She was ahead and safe. I was not frightened but worried about being bothered on my doorstep.
I unlocked and put on my lights, shut the curtain and remembered similar scenes when I had been truly afraid or truly in charge.
This morning the labourers asked me if I knew the guy taking a refuse bin full of earth from the or my skip. It was the stalking drunk. Hell’s Bell’s. I dealt with him by saying how illegal it is to take from skips. I had a vision of a brick through my window but he did go away and said to the wind, “Must do what the old lady says.” His lanyard and label told me he was “out in the community” and quite harmless to boot.

I and other Up Your Street seniors have joined Waltham Forest Women Taking Back The Streets. We are a seniors’ presence. The group meets regularly. We are sick of being uncomfortable on our streets because of men on street corners, drug-dealing, spitting and making suggestions to us. Their language beats crude and we should not have to endure it. We should be able to go anywhere in the area and own the pavement too. We here really refers to young women: Old women are invisible except on pension day.

High Street Seniors is a seniors’ group walking at dusk. We’ve been around since London 2012 and so have our legs so it’s harder to walk. It’s enough for many now to do the tunnel walk at the Museums up Kensington. Our mission is the same as the intentions of the founding young women and men at the Waltham Forest organisation which features at Facebook. Our mission is to reclaim our streets.
But this drug-dealing is at every turn. Every day I see in the gutters drug paraphernalia. I suggest that in the main the men sitting at cafés are backward. The shame is when the men have schooled in the Borough and not internalised anything about sexism and equality. They must have truanted that day. The rest are just backward and have not sussed out that women in the UK in the main have come forward leaps and bounds and no longer are invisible or silent. As long as they are in inclusive sects they will never change either.

Laws and policing have done much to change the way people talk to each other and how they behave. In their own homes of course people are racist and sexist and everything else to make themselves bloated on superiority. Not all learn that there is a boundary between indoors and out.

By women and some men sharing their disgust at what goes on on street kerbs and corners then a wider public can join in and understand why women need to group together to get changes made or enforcement active.

Many seniors do not leave their houses after 7pm. That cannot be right. Many children do not enjoy their journey to and from school. I have seen a grown man leching after a girl of eight. I did not phone the police because I believed they’d do nothing. I was angry with myself. Why was the child alone on the street? Why shouldn’t she be? Erghh at myself.

About forty years ago there was an incident where a bus driver would not take on board a young woman who did not have enough fare money. She was afterwards raped as she took a short cut in a park to get home. I was always in awe of my brother saying “Why shouldn’t she feel okay to walk through a park at night?”
Having heard that, thank goodness today for Oyster cards and credit/debit cards so that the lack of cash is not a prelude to a rape.
Both my grandmothers said the word “bitch” and on Coronation Street, the women use that word thanks to the script-writer. I never use that word and never call anyone “darlin'” or any word that denotes over-familiarity. We all have to watch our p’s and q’s. It’s all about mutual respect.

We have a long way to go.


Lovely Jubbly Jumble.

First of all St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney is strapped for cash, big time.

Some of Up Your Streeters attend choir there and we go to workshops which decrease in number.

The bus stops are awkward.

Saturday was the seasonal jumble sale which is always a packed affair.

Yesterday was very lovely: Not just jumble but performances, and a magician and meaty burgers, a kiddies’ area, open house, tea the whole works. There was a vintage stall, and the usual piles of clothes with another ‘nearly new’ stall. Jewellery was brimming over its caskets and kitchen ware was in abundance, What a great day out.

I ended up at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden for a cool beer and a £6 wood oven-fired pizza of deliciousness.

The trees in that garden just pour out oxygen. My sculpture gargoyle is still there indestructible.

So I am going to do all I can to promote an hospice where because of lack of money the infirm and dying are shifted to other places of rest. The nuns have gone and are replaced by paid office staff. Yet yesterday there was not a hint of gloom.

Bravo St Joe’s.

My morning up West

A couple of years ago, some Up Your Street art artists and mature art appreciation students went to Rosetta in West Ham to meet via Skype, Angela Lyn , who was doing an art piece about place and building. We joined in. Most didn’t understand any of the psycho-art speke and only two did their homework. Only I went along up to Liverpool Street to see the culmination of our work and how it related to nothing we’d done.

Recently only four subscribers to Up Your Street signed up to go to Angela Lyn’s exhibition in Maddox Street. That is not an enthusiastic response and so I cancelled it. A group visit should include at least six people.  I went by myself today. The 55 bus stops at its last stop in Oxford Circus a small walk away from the front door. I visited Floating Gardens. Typically I could not be bothered with more artspeke. I was interested in my feelings and the oil-painting technique as well as the size of the canvases. A couple of pieces drew me in. I quite liked “Dragonfly” and warmed to the tea table. That’s all. I believe I’d seen works before; the cedar tree pines and furry fronds.

It was  a free exhibition on a sunny day.

Angela Lyn will be in attendance on May 10th.

I pushed myself upwards and onwards to Shaftesbury Avenue and couldn’t see Angels anywhere. So I went to Shaftesbury Theatre just to sniff its box-office area.Years and years ago I’d worked as a ticketing clerk and thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything was the same; dark, golden and olde worlde muted grandeur. The lovely staff welcomed me which was great. I’d satisfied my memory bank, my mind-palace.

Angels, a short hop away,  was empty of people and full of wigs, Yardie style. I was not impressed at all. I secured more places for Up Your Street subscribers to have a look about when we do up West as our day out in May. Like it mattered. There are three floors to explore and even more floors which will be available to us but not the other public.

The 55 bus brought me home again.

We’ll Never Know

We are not aware as a general public about records about women’s ailments say sixty years ago.

Adverts are now showing us women managing bladder incontinence and itchy vulvae and then, in the news, there’s the appalling mesh injuries where the vaginal mesh is meant to uplift a collapsing womb. .

Is the lichen in the water? Was the collapse and prolapse caused by lack of pelvic thrusts at the aquarobics class? Did our grans suffer? Those women sitting in front of the coal fires; did they have irritating itching and were they nursing prolapsed uteri?  It just seems that itchy bums and travelling wombs are common-place.

Ebbs and Flows.

Well, we have the ebbing of the waves about older people being visible and owning art spaces near them. It was a blast, you know, seniors being talked to as though they had never had a life-force in them, as though they never had experiences before meeting sympathetic gushy interns and being cajoled  to join in. (Mmm. Nice lemons, writer?)

A flowing in on another stream is the airing of older people in conference to learn about further or advanced education. That is white aspiring middle-class maybe as there’s a big promotion for U3A. Most seniors I know haven’t a clue what U3A is. I’ve dipped into it and quickly withdrew my toes. It has a literary bent about it and most seniors I know operate with spoken words and don’t read books. Seniors I know are mainly working class too emerging like queens from the roughest dirtiest parts of London, not interested in wall-art or community splashing as they make their way to the diabetic clinic or the pharmacist for their indoors’ people’s failing health.

The next funded interest, manufactured by the anonymous powers, will be how to change how the working class isn’t drawn into art appreciation or being artists. It starts publicly with Tate, that place where art is definitely full of class and money. Youth 18-25 are now entitled to see exhibitions for a fiver and attend workshops. Now all well and good as the aim is to get BAME and working class youth into the hallowed halls. Great stuff. Up Your Street Community Group already encourages seniors to take advantage of free tickets for major exhibitions in West End galleries and museums. After six years of this magic then it is a truth that the same seniors who can actually and do afford the exhibition tickets sign up again and again for the freebies. Those same seniors often forget to go to the exhibition. The cohort is of one ethnicity and it ain’t BAME and has an air of upwardly mobile.

I know about art galleries because back in the day I went to a posh progressive school and we were continually out and about getting doses of culture. My friends on the estate went to a different unposh school where factory fodder didn’t need culture. I was fortunate in that respect in the opinion that art is for all and so I should be getting some.

But it’s not yet for all, is it?

I was chatting to an entrepreneur only the other day and we touched on the world of art. She advised me that like every sphere there is the official and the unofficial meaning it’s a cliquey old world. Some workshops are featured at Eventbrite where the issue of working class artists being invisible on the scene is discussed and in another town a major working class artist has an amazing exhibition. See forgotten his name already.

And then I watched Getty the richest art lot in the world. J. Paul Getty even said that those who do not appreciate art are “culture barbarians”.

Illiterates and threads

Today was a great day. Up Your Street subscribers were out in force at the Liners exhibition at the V&A. Obscenely sumptuous were the articles of furniture and wall-decorations. There were beautiful wall-tiles for a boat. There were the design proofs and markings of extravagance. We were plebeains looking through a rich man’s key-hole, seeing how the other half cruised. Great was the illusion of being a passenger on a boat with creaky floors, a film of staircase glamour and bathers diving into the ship pool.

The staff at the V&A are very customer-aware. We loved it. We ate our home cooked wraps in the canteen and drank £2.60 cups of tea.

After that journey into luxury here and abroad but not into the warmer seas of Trinidad and Tobago or the cruises of Mauritian delights then some of our company went along to join Ann Davey for her Antique Embroidery Tour at £15 a time. We paid less.

What a tour guide. What a mine of information. I actually took notes so I could further research into Mediaeval up to Victorian times.

These are the lovelies we gawped at amongst others.

Head Cloths




Sheldon Tapestries

Trade routes



Mary Linwood

dates and dates and dates; the illiterate populations needing visuals. the glorification of Christianity, the warming of walls with tapestries, printing designs versus needlework, William Morris. Nuff said.

We shuffled around for 150 minutes with a ten minute break. We had the history at our fingertips about pieces of tapestry, lace, linen and canvas which likely we’d have flitted by otherwise and drawn assumptions.

A 14, a 38 and a 236 bus later and three of us made our way to Hackney Fabrications for the Daylight presentation of its proto-type sewing machine lights. There we had our supper generously given by Barley Massey, a good laugh and a gifted free light which will do well for any close up work; crafting, stamp-collecting and circuit-boarding.

Twas a good Up Your Street day and new subscribers were truly welcomed.


Don’t estate agents look like weather men?

Unravelling The Yarn

I have just done my first reading of Claire Weiss’ biography for I always skim non-fiction first then go back and appreciate better the pages I’ve marked. It’s an old student way.

I am  reviewing the work,  the book,  because I am celebrating a Leyton woman author who was intrigued by a woman born in 1896 in ye olde Leyton enough to research her and write about her in terms of feminism, strength and business aptitude.

The book is enjoyable and written informally enough for all to appreciate the delvings into birth records and baronetcies. It’s dotted with humorous asides as the writer discovers more about a particular clan of landed gentry and sides with the protangenist.

It is easily readable with many sections so that the reader can keep track of what goes where and who was doing what and when.

Zoe Hart Dyke neé Bond was stinking rich in today’s terms, lived in posh houses and had servants. She had a rebellious streak polished at a French finishing school and did what she liked under  as a child and as an emerging debutante or young rich woman and later on in her journeys into Bohemian London. She saved her family from financial ruin with the help of her adulterous husband. She lived in a castle. In her own autobiography Dyke never referred to Leyton as home. Which four year old could remember her first years? She forged silk-worm breeding as an industry in England. And that’s why she’s notable.


Claire Weiss began married life in Dyke’s Leyton home which had been a Doctor Bond’s surgery in 1896. Zoe Hart Dyke was the daughter of an eminent doctor. From the first Weiss gives warmth to a character who has all the opportunities to choose her destiny and who chooses to follow her own passions and interests rather than follow the structured path given over to rich eligible women in the early part of the twentieth century when it was rare for women to set up their own enterprises let alone work when there were servants to do all of that. Weiss celebrates Dyke’s independent streak.

She follows every hint of a fact to the end by scrupulous research accessing Government records and in her yarn, follows up each suspicion or curiousness about any small but very coincidental possibility. Nothing is left out so that we see Dyke as an incident in a huge sprawling network of family characters, all defined by status and money. We get to understand the humanness of her father and a certain coldness about her mother. Outside in the business world we see the entrepreneur who has to fight from her soapbox with a tinge of spite as she drops hints about how  businesswomen are a twentieth century reality.