Isle Of Dogs, east London, docklands. Orkney (Maxwell and Sutherland)

Missed Red Riding Hood on Monday with the Open Stage TRSE 2102  volunteers due to the lurgy.  Twas a packed and rowdy house so I heard. Good. Then my germ-carrying stopped me in my tracks today as I made my way out to the Rio Cinema in Dalston to see Tom Hunter’s film about Woodberry Down Estate back in the day called “A Palace For Us”. Gutted. Mind you I would have had to leave rather than seeing the second half of the  programme when “Brief Encounter” would have been screened. Ugh!  Dreary posh unrequited love romantic never sexually tense film seen twice and that’s enough.

Then a text came through inviting me to tune into Radio 4. Glad I did.  Here was a fine example of oral history narrated by Alan Dein and produced by Neil McCarthy. I was interested in listening because of my once active involvement  in oral history recording at the Hermitage Community Moorings, Wapping and my own fervent interest in the history of people in London, bein’ a Londoner, like.

Under a headline project called “Lives in a Landscape” the BBC 4 programme was billed as “The Hall” and was to be about the community hall at St John’s on the Isle of Dogs, east London, known by its indigenous population as “The Island”. The hall is home to “tango queens, Moslem worshippers, bingo addicts and locals who fancy a pint”.

We can almost write the script for the hundreds of projects grown up since the Olympics and Paralympics which pertain to “My Story”. There’s film workshops, newspaper courses, community heritage projects and photographic comps too. because we all have a story to tell. Great change is afoot in the docklands and in our neighbourhoods and the recording of the effects of the change help alleviate a metropolitan uneasiness in which individuals feel swamped and unheard.

Alan’s narrative was ace:It had to be because we are listening to the radio. The working class  characters and retirees loved their community space and evidently put it to full use. The Bangladeshi participant hinted about the Moslem community having been there for two generations but that needed more exploration as the programme tended towards the usual history of the white working class in its old sense.  Yep I heard the old West Indian talking into the mic! The guy described the loss of trees as the area was modernised. Interestingly he said how he has seen the developers encroach into The Island such that the community he knows is whittled down to become inevitably  an island within an island.

The hall is a sanctuary where some of the local people can share stories, play scrabble and bingo and feel that they are continuing a life they knew when they were younger, when the community was an inclusive family-defined and generated entity.

I would relish the edit-outs!

Thank you for that Alan Dein. It was refreshing radio. I think Wapping volunteers are right behind you.

This morning my Ebay win came. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CD “Mavis In Las Vegas” with the “An Orkney Wedding With Sunrise”. Just sheer beauty that is with all the strings and bagpipes and the creation of the harsh storm weather through Maxwell’s skill. The Orkney people put me off the genius that is Sir Peter. Their scowls and negative mumblings never intrigued me enough to find out more about the man; I had enough to do standing up in the wind. The guy is openly gay but not as in Gay Gordens. That’s one point against him. Secondly he’s an “incomer” Whoa!  Big crime. Need I say more. Just finished reading Luke Sutherland’s “Venus As A Boy”. Sutherland hits the nail on the head regarding life in Orkney but as I lent out the hard-back book, I can’t do the clever quoting.  “Wouldn’t you rather see for yourself?”

Just realized I travelled in my today blog from island to island.  Edgy…


openstage, Theatre Royal Stratford east

Great day. Went along to Stratford Theatre in the wind and the rain having done line-dancing workshop at Priory Court Community Centre in Walthamstow.

The Theatre Royal is just buzzing and bubbling over what with youth workshops and Openstage volunteers being interviewed by the project interns. Meanwhile the theatre work happens with all goings and comings in the green room. Off to “Reasons To Be Cheerful” production tomorrow at TRSE.

Very excited about a London Street Photography exhibition coming to London Museum next February.