High Street Seniors

                        After a couple of phone calls and a few text messages 5 seniors and I went on an impromptu walk up in Walthamstow Village. None of us was interested in watching on the box “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: Mother’s Day Special”. It is a fact that this year “Mother’s Day” has been promoted ceaselessly by the big marketing guns and retailers. Motherhood has reached seemingly the supreme heights of glorification outside of the mosque, church and temple. Lap it up. Indulge. (Baileys at a tenner instead of £18 in Morrisons. Can only be good!) 

                     Our oldest High Street Senior on Saturday was 75 which as we know in 2011 is young. On that fine evening we met at 8 outside “Beautiful Interiors”. Lots going on in that shop always and currently there are pop-up shops. Penny usually does a wine and nibbles launch for any new venture, artist, exhibition and if you get on her emailing list,  you’ll know what’s what.                                                                         

                     We walked through the ‘village’ and up around towards St Mary’s Church. Waltham Forest is a very leafy green London 2012 borough. To me Walthamstow Village is a mostly quiet area just a stone’s throw from Walthamstow Market and the station. ‘London Greeters’ will be out in force to show it off. Years ago when I was size 12 and sizes were just being invented, I used to do the Christmas Post in Walthamstow Village. We called it Walthamstow Toni then. All the small one-up-one-down, packed-together terrace houses each had a front door porch and in each porch was always a low-burning paraffin heater. Always remember that smell and warmth.  And the folk used to tip me generously.

  It was nice to revisit as a High Street Senior especially together in the dark because unless you’re going to the local pubs up there or having a restaurant meal (expensively), then the area is dead and quiet at night. For an hour or so we claimed the streets before the foxes wetted their patches.


We hadn’t sorted going for a cuppa at the end of our outing.  A W12 bus is always nearby; one of those hail and ride types. We all went home armed with leaflets about healthy hearts and the flyer for Thursday’s Olympic  and Paralympic Games site viewing event. See Up Your street5 issue 13 in events on this site.

                High Street Seniors is registered with the Mayor’s Cultural Diary to do high street walks during the Games. They are not guided walks per se but informal gatherings of seniors who want to enjoy a walk at dusk, together at the end of the day. During the Games there will be balmy  evenings. There we will be, out,  after bed-time!

Chat’s Palace and Chatsworth Road, ‘Ackney, east London

Well, it was absolutely freezing but I did my planned walk up Chatsworth Road from Lea Bridge Road. Long time since I’ve done that. For the first part one might say “What, people actually live on the road?” Pretty scummy with dirty fronts and boarded up shops. I suppose I expected more because I heard the road’s getting an overhaul in time for the big games. Hurry up then ! There is some interesting  architecture if you look hard. There was hardly anyone about because of the cold I suppose.

Chat’s Palace was warm and welcoming.  Colin O’Brien’s free photographic exhibition of the last real high street (Chatsworth Road)  is perfect, extremely well displayed and a unique story from ordinary shopkeepers trying to keep going in difficult economic times. It’s colourful and there’s plenty of descriptive labels to chuckle over. O’Brien’s older photgraphs are on display too so,  a double treat of professional art work. I did feel priveleged catching the last days of a very local exhibition in a beautifully refurbished “palace”. One person said about Chatsworth Road that you never need to leave there once you’re born there: You get born at one end, go to school in the middle and end up at the undertaker’s at the other end. The road is totally multi-national, relaxed and modest. Move over Stokey, it’s arrived.

Straight onto the Hackney Museum for three temporary exhibitions, one all about the nature of Dalston using people’s memories and archive photos. Very good. There’s another display of photos and words all about people from ethnic minorities ‘coming out ‘and the joy and problems of that in our society. Could only ‘appen in ‘Ackney. The Museum is building up for LGBT month, another celebration of our diversity. I just love good photos, me.

The third special exhibition is all about east end boxers as they were. Didn’t get it until the link to the big games was made. How Hackney Museum puts on such fabulous exhibitions in a welcoming and buzzing place is a wonderful achievement! We the clients are the lucky ones.

On to The Round Chapel to learn some gypsy dancing from Polish gypsies. The ‘ learn gypsy music’ was going on; very serious and lots of violins. I’ll try again next week. I was looking for colour and swirling skirts.

Meanwhile in Egypt people, which evidently by all news footage means ‘men’ ,  are just protesting to get a better life and here’s me swannin’ around  parts of London which London Greeters might show off to visitors. “Hang on! We not ready yet.”

London Greeters

Today I graduated as a London Greeter, previously East London Greeter. The name change is important to highlight because East London greeters would have been there to promote the once deprived and forgotten realms of the river banks.

Armies of articulate Camden types with squalls of U3A subscribers will merely continue in their well-rehearsed, tried and tested, highly-respected tradition of hyping up their canals and plaques to bring in their visitors and intrepid travellers. They are now London Greeters .

Waltham Forest without a history of tourism on any level is dependent on their 3 pioneer volunteers possibly. Those volunteers with no qualification in tourism will learn how to highlight hereforto unknown routes off the usual museum and park tracks. No easy task. For greeter purposes, Waltham Forest, a very poor London borough, is way behind some boroughs which are, in the eleventh hour, catching on to the fact that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are advantageous for all London and all UK. It appears though that Waltham Forest is more prepared amazingly to meet and greet than Hackney and Tower Hamlets, the Queen O’ The Isles .

Here is a volunteer programme during the lead up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 and it will continue into the legacy era until March 2013. No perks, no carrots just people with a passion for showing off routes of interest and glitz in London. No payment, no nuffink just pure “Yes I’ll do that!”