Jellied Eels and Zeppelins

Before I embark on a book for the after dinner treat, a book given to me by my very good mate, Stephen, and written by Sue Taylor I must enthuse about the Apollo Chamber Music organisation. I had seen a promotion in the Hackney Empire email shot for a school children’s concert at The Hackney Empire. Now, I love that Empire and it’s one bus ride away. The advert said tickets were free and I felt silly as one person wanting one ticket to a concert where very likely would attend  all the  performers’ parents and grandparents. Nothing like trying and it turned out the email for bookings was not correct. In the end I got myself a ticket for the morning one-off performance which coincided with my daughter having her time with her baby son in the PictureHouse opposite. We were all near each other in a favourite borough.

I thought the concert was  to be school children playing recorders and other instruments on stage in a collaborative intergenerational performance. Nah! It was proper culture, proper symphony orchestra with David Chernaik, our host and orchestra leader, explaining all the sections of the orchestra and the sounds they make.

Five minutes until curtain up and bundles of primary school parties found their seats. Fifteen seniors made up the invited adult guest seating area in the dress circle.

Hackney Empire is majestic and plush in its reds and golds. David lost his audience through the explanation of “Hansel and Gretel” but everyone loved the size of his major instrument forgotten the name.

Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony was a pure delight, passionate in its delivery. Many little feet were kicking my chair from behind and there was much whispering and fidgeting. I was caught up in the music and the reds of the violins and the velvetted lap of one viola player.

Gig done and we shuffled out amongst stretched yawns and mutterings of “That was shit, man”.  Even if one hijab-ed youngster picked up an appreciation of a different way of making sounds for emotion and pleasure then David’s job is done.

issue 7 Up Your Street

Wed   July 4th free (or dead cheap) all day course 9.30-3pm. Basic sewing at Priory Court Community Centre (and on 11th July) Phone  the Centre  and mention Up Your Street pls.

free              10-4pm      Last day of Steve Lewis  London as it was photography exhibition at Stratford Circus  E15.

free 11.30am but book       venue  The Hackney Empire

E5 Schools chamber music concert.Donations accepted.

Thur July 5th  free 10 am digital training at CLR Library, Dalston Junction  Hackney

                               free 2pm book at Hackney Picturehouse for a free seniors afternoon of films and a blockbuster and  tea , biscuits and a swing dance band. Arranged for us by Capital of Age Festival. Phone Hackney Picturehouse for your place.

Fri July 6th  free 11 am at Rosetta Arts Centre (West Ham Station) for informal introduction to “Understanding Visual Awarenes” a funded art appreciation course starting in October with Birkbeck University.

Sat July 7th free   2-3.30pm Mapping Your Manor walk around the Olympic site. Meet Lucy 2.00pm at Hackney Wick station. She will provide MP3s to listen to the podcasts.

Nag’s Head in Walthamstow Village

Well, I jus’ don’t know! How do people put up with non-welcoming staff?  I said to myself, “Let me find this pub that everyone ..IN THE VILLAGE raves about”. I’d taken the W16 from Leyton up to Shernhall Street and remembered that there was that hail and ride (if you’re lucky) W12 bus that sweeps through the backyard of the Village.

The driver dropped me off just next to the afore-mentioned glorified pub. The back garden was packed. (“Nobody works then? “as Jezza would say.) The staff never even acknowledged me, a stranger to their bar. It wasn’t as if they were busy; people were hogging one glass for an hour. Maybe the sour faces from the bartenders meant they just didn’t want to be there. But I just don’t get it. A local gets bumped up. Everyone wants a piece of the action and then nothing. It happens again and again. A venue is revved up and then the front of house staff just make you wonder why you made the effort. Exceptions are notably Stratford Picture House E15 , the Hackney Empire and BSix male reception staff. Good examples of front of house disdain are Rich Mix, (no smiles there and chewing gobs), my doctor’s surgery, Sassoon in Brooke Street up West, Age UK office in Dalston Junction, Hackney Museum, Lea Bridge Library, Hackney Post Office in Narrow Way e5, ward staff in any NHS hospital..any!..aah and so many more.  Civil servants are reknowned for their lack of expression, disdain or not. Still adopted the CSA name though so who trained yer, baby?

You know, front of house employees are often labelled as CSA Customer Service Assistant. They could well be unpaid interns who long lost their passion to be part of The Big Society and/or are those who stay on in the job until something better comes along and you’d think that would be in a couple of years. So the long-termers are still there AND as miserable. It could well be that as a senior I am invisible and so they are just rude or nasty by habit  as they keep their faces to their screens, hearing my polite voice coming from the backside of their computer . But people half my age get the same treatment. Don’t worry. I haven’t started on the attitude of bus drivers up and down Lea Bridge Road.

I am used to the alarmingly frank ignorance from CSAs but cannot understand why we put up with it.  I did ask for an audience with the owner of the Hackney Post Office shop knowing I was wasting my breath. I had six months earlier complained to the Post Office big guns and they said they would look into everything from the attitude of staff to the mess on the floor. Looking and doing eh?  So the owner of the shop told me that the staff have so much abuse from the public. So what? Most folk are just wanting a little bit of human service and why should they suffer because of some other customers’ frustrations , madness or anger? William Hill Management trained me well enough to deal with rude and spitting men old enough to be my dad and at the same time I could make sure that the normal well-behaved person gave over their money  knowing that I was giving the best of my service. Never was I trained to look at anyone as less than human altho I had my diddly doubts.

I’ve seen medical reception staff talk so rudely to non-English speakers in particular. Not every immigrant lives in a caravan.Everyone needs to be on a GP list so the vulnerable and the polite know not to answer back as that will be construed as violence towards the employed hallowed ones. No witnesses will bother to come forward as the receptionist has her moment of triumph, throws beige records on the floor and stamps her stiletto-ed foot.

The Hackney shop owner didn’t impress me at all. Ebay should set up its own Post Office then many of us wouldn’t need the Post Office at all. Passports you say. How come we are European in UK but still have to carry an UK passport to travel to Tenerifé and beyond? Why is the sky blue? So many Apps and I’ll have my answers.

I know a lady who had her baby by Apps. Her waters broke so she Googled for extra information, checked the Apps from Mothercare and downloaded the breastfeeding Apps too. No need for wise old sages like me anymore.

Nuff said about Nag’s Head.

Gargoyles in Dalston and Mario Lanza

I was enrolled on the gargoyle-making workshop with The Kindest Group and went along for the day workshop in the drizzle and cold that is June 2011. I looked at my working gloves and stupidly left them at home but packed in my floral pinny; (the one I wear to Songololo but not to ceramics class)!

Thomas welcomed all of us to the workshop and to the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden then introduced Bobbie Fennick, our stone-carving teacher. I had taken along drawings I’d sketched from the 1996 signed book I have from Australia of Gambin’s “Surrealistic Voices On Paper”. Bobbie gave us a rudimentary guide to a couple of chisels and the effects they have and can make on a building breeze-block. In the spirit of the day we were to allow our passion and energy to flow through our tools onto the brick baby. Brian supplied the tea. A couple of mothers had brought along their babies slung on their backs, a la Afrique or Welsh Valleys and now specifically Hackneyed. Take note, yummy mummies in Walthamstow Village.

The day was cold and grey even under the roofed patio. People could come in off the street because it’s a public garden so they did: One woman stayed looking at us all day and ended up in the workshop video. She was planning how to take the giant carved brick home to her garden…not the deal.

We chiselled and wivelled with the background noises of next door building works, the usual  screams of police sirens along Dalston Lane, and the clang-clanging of a wind chime as enormous as any church bell.

Throughout, Bobbie, Thomas and Brian treated us like guests and we responded by using every technique taught to us to bring forth monsters of stone or softer breeze-block.

The day was time-tabled as long but it flew by. By the end I’d had a work- out indeed. We were warned we’d cook up a sweat. I was glad I wore substantial shoes because it was a stand- alone job. The carving is totally absorbing or you are “in the zone” as Thomas puts it.

I’d had to leave off my session at the web-site construction with MyHeartLog at The Lawns, Mattias Road in Dalston. Still a couple of emails and my suggestions were logged.

Next workshop for Gargoyles is on Sunday 24th July.

In the respected garden there is much more happening besides Bobby’s Gargoyle Workshop.

Swept up my mess, changed my clothes and swung around to The Hackney Empire for BBC Radio 2’s live performance of “Friday Night Is Music Night” nodding  to Mario Lanza.It was superb. And the ice-cream is only £2. Ah, Hackney Empire, be proud, quietened oasis of all cultures in the East End!

Twas a fine night

Twas a fine night we had of it walking with High Street Seniors joined by a contingent from All Seasons, the hotel in Bakers Arms Leyton. That hotel was called something else before and lots more besides from the local residents. It got cleaned up. Well the Games are a-comin’.

By 10.15pm the sky was a light indigo blue. I could be seen a mile off in my hi-viz vest. Waiting for vests to come for one and all from generous Clancy Dowcra engineering firm, the ones involved in up- rooting the Victorian mains-pipes.

Another lottery for tickets. The BBC Radio 2 lot are  recording on June 17th a tribute gala to Mario Lanza at the gorgeous Hackney Empire. Go and try for free tickets. It’ll be a long summer evening and a great experience. You can apply for 2 tickets and there is a group ticket number . All free,all on the Freedom Pass bus routes (30, 48, 55, W15, 106 etc etc.. check

More rain to fall. Off to beading and jewelley -making at The Victoria in Queensbridge Rd, Hackney. Now that is something good and free with lovely people and a cuppa too. All the participants come via Up Your street5 so once again, jolly good company!! Tuesdays and Thursdays 11-1pm.

Have you watched Vintage TV yet on Sky and elsewhere? Some excellent interviews and archive footage. There’s some very recommendable programmes coming up on many channels. I will inform you soon.