A Change is Gonna Come! already there, mate

                  There was me thinking Hackney Wick was a dump in the same way I think Stratford High St is and Leytonstone High Rd is. I am talking about the buildings or rather boarded up, weed-generating (we allowed to call ’em weeds anymore?) delapidated buildings being the dumps. I did wonder how the residents, the people who call Hackney Wick and the afore-mentioned places home  consider how on east end’s earth  the Olympic and Paralympic torch- bearing pioneers called Boris and Seb (sound like muppets)  think Cameron’s Big Society can ever compensate for anything they, the masses, tolerate. Without the Olympic and Paralympic Games a-coming who cared about Fish Island , Wapping-like roads, deserted warehouses, peanuts and smoked fish? And as for Stratford, well!  The BBC was dahn in Stratford on Monday and I never knew it was about to be an anti-Games debate. 

      It was clear to me as I realised after joining in so many activities all bearing the let’s-be- positive-about-the-Games-coming that no amount of Personal Best courses and two-bit workshops and volunteer activities ever had as rewards, alongside the marker-pen signed certificates of attendance, free tickets to the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the conned let alone jobs!!!!  It has been proven. The invited audience members were thoroughly disappointed, nay angry, about many aspects of the Games but their appeals to Boris and Lordy were like boomerangs to Murdoch.

It was true that when it came to Hackney Wick I only saw dump and heard about artists moving in, all the time urging my positive vibe to emerge. I never even took along my camera for that special memory each time I went there and passed the Napier Arms. Bless.

 My mate whose Hackney Wick council flat overlooks the Games site had no idea he lived next to fishy roads and wasn’t bovvered.

Well it’s taken the Hackney Wicked Festival to up the place in my opinion. My negative cloudy take has waned. Whoever knew! 

Oh! and The Red Lion pub re-opened in its glory in Leytonstone High Road.

Three hour walk around the Olympic and Paralympic Games site

                            Three hours in the humid heat joining in Mapping Your Manor with the Newham Striders and picking up others on the way. What a lovely bunch of people to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with. Lucy greeted us well as did John and Chris and Ross was recording sounds while Jane was our camera one.

Well, let’s face it!  The backstreets and the high roads of Leyton and Stratford aint all that and the trek on the tow path down to Bow is not scenic. The Greenway is nothing but a white concrete path although homage today to the many colours of wild weeds showing off amongst the litter. Fish Island is a waste of space. There are no buses down that Dickensian way and the newest cafe is £2 a cuppa. Not up any of our streets. We did inspect the temporary Folly for a Flyover. Whoever knew that was just there on the side of the River Lea under a bridge?

I dunno, she sighed deeply. But I say it like it is.

We fulfilled the point of Mapping Your Manor with travellers reading excerpts, sharing memories and poets doin’ their thing. Here’s my poem I was proud to read on a project which gives voice to ordinary folk.

                               The Coming.

Age old white clouds, surveyors of all beneath them

slid behind the unnatural and perfect

concrete wedges of new- built Olympian blocks

high as skies                 

and yawned.

Down on puddled  paths I was open-mouthed and amazed.

Only the unsettled wind and my camera shuttering

made noises

as I counted without counting

the storeys.

On the roads outside the Park

in earshot  of the  booming  Gala bingo- caller’s voice

under  perfect  Edwardian arches and invisible gargoyles

now womanly in their aspects, feared by no man

boys on bikes

together in a crowd

rode furiously

chasing the wind and their tails

indifferent to  rising shapes and Olympian realities.

Their street was  a century away

wrapped in guarded  terraces,  clung onto tested ways

yellow-bricked, Primark- clothed , home and known.

The Olympic Games site was their parents’  neighbour

not quite settled in,  watched through Bid Up TV curtains

and  rising steam from Basmati rice in curried kitchens.    

By 8pm the stadium was drenched in a slow drowning

in glorious sun down.

The youth shielded their caps and eyes from the sting

looked up to see who  shone the torch

realised the invader and planned a way to jump its wired fence.

Someone’s screech  of “house”  escaped and cadged a ride on the DLR.

Stratford Cars’ minicab- master emerged from the darkness of his firm

looked up the road towards Bow and lit a cigarette.

The smoke trailed upwards from his mouth blurring the sunset.

In  a second, his wife’s voice came crashing  from the sky:

“Where’s E20? Hamid! Where is it? Can’t see it.

He fingered the beads in his pocket.

“Tell them it’s not ready. It’s coming”.

                                    Excellent turn -out of seniors experienced in walking regularly.

                                   Carpenters Road has been transformed from the murky oily dirtsville it once was about 6 years ago, and no amount of romanticising can convince me of a different history.

                              Where’s the Radox?

Today’s torture

Went on the BCTV Haringey walk today which began at Tottenham Hale Station for the gold walkers, met by the silvers at Markfield Park, Haringey, who then joined the bronze lot from Leyton under Lea Bridge at the  lovely Princess Of Wales pub. The world and her husband were out today with her tribes of kiddies on Easter break. Wonderful atmosphere and the one table attendant was working hard for her money today!

         About 30 of us in all were marching at the beginning of the walk along the tow path towards Hackney Wick. After we’d passed the Water Works conservation area with its greenery we started the barren part of the trudge. There is no scenery worth photographing. Down by White Post Lane, the towpath is blocked off so that renovation in time for the Big Games can be done. Our detour began around scumsville folowing green arrows and after climbing a massive staircase we reached the path to the bunker that is the famous View Tube in its garish fluorescent green colour . Still nothing to see. Oh yes, there is the stadium in construction every which way we look. So what?  The walk along The Green Way was torture. Yer just have to keep walking.

Many of us skipped the half hour talk about the Olympic and Paralympic site and made our way to Pudding Lane Station. Out came our Freedom Passes for the one stop on the DLR to Stratford and home. Hooray! 

None of this is a reflection on our leader or the organised Healthy Walk. It just happened to be boring and confirmed the back streets of Stratford area as still that; backstreets.  Not recommended at all.

Saw a swan pair and coots and canoe rowers. And many many cyclists. Part of the diversion was in Fish Island. At last I saw the streets named after fish (Bream , Roach etc ) in a place which internet sites describe as awesome. Awesome what? Anyway my curiosity was satisfied as I’d always wanted to get to Fish Island. Damped down today then. Saw Percy Dalton’s former works place and Forman’s fish outlet. Hmmm. Maybe I need rose-coloured glasses but a dump is a dump.