Nip it in the bud

Sometimes you just know something’s wrong but need to know through which channel to get it sorted. To do anything on Facebook invites aggressive behaviour and a besmirching of your sensitive being. Twitter is useless unless you have allies ready to brunt the storm with  you by being spiteful in a rationed verbal spate. You can gamble and be optimistic that your observation posted as a status update on Facebook is merely a helpful way of introducing another viewpoint for consideration. You can elevate yourself  and think that people will reciprocate your generous warmth and giving nature. Like the time I simply put forward a possibility that Warner of Warner Estates in E17 was a rich businessman with his wealth originating from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Currently it’s okay and topical to ask questions about the wealth of British slave-owners because of the BBC 2’s current airing of  the University of London’s research into the ancient British architecture and how such flamboyant wealth was collected and then inherited by whom. The two programmes fired up people’s emotions. One tweet on Twitter was a rude suggestion that all white people should be watching the programme. Maybe all people should have watched the programme. It’s BBC2. Fat chance.


By the by, curators at Hackney Museum did some evening sessions to launch Hall et al’s university research into the houses of Hackney, bringing home how wealthy Hackney was and how the slave trade money was the foundation for the massive houses on every street corner. Even Jill Public was invited to comment on the texts and she did. Hackney Museum is always ahead.


School and therefore government syllabi come under fire always during hidden history episodes yet much of  our heritage learning must come through family stories and parental knowledge, surely. We cannot continue to blames teachers for what we don’t know when we can actually learn pro-actively from other sources. That of course is a whole blog site on another day.



My Facebook question produced interesting results and a bit of paternal advice. The latter was the stuff that encourages lengthy Facebook essays which go nowhere. There is no point engaging unless you prefer the life of a troubled soul. Anyway all in all old Warner, the housing magnate,  was indeed the beneficiary during his lifetime of his wife’s wealth through her family’s business in slavery. Remember, in those days, what’s hers is his.


An art event was advertised on Facebook but not on the promotional material as being for black women and girls only. I emphasise an “art event”, not a meeting together of abused women wanting a safe haven, not a coming together of women exploring their skin, and not a union meeting for black and ethnic members. Like others, I was disturbed because this is UK 2015 and more than that Hackney 2015. We’ve moved on publicly from alienating swathes of people in the community. If we’re functioning in a community centre then the rule is that the doors are open to all in that community. I’ve seen project administrators under Council permission advertising their projects as targeting certain ethnic groups in the public domain. There is no way on Hackney’s earth that the project organisers can turn away the non-targeted people from the event or workshop let alone police at the entry door.


In practice, everyone is welcome if not to just make up the numbers and gain Brownie points by evaluating shared experiences on the Lottery Heritage Funding or any funder’s criteria tick sheet.


Someone else  complained about the wording for the art exhibition with their moral stance and a heap of people experienced in wordly matters as their back-up. The Facebook status was changed. No-one approached the actual organisers only the venue management. It turned out that the management were ignorant of what was happening in Cyberspace. Rather than feeling that she may be hated by a few, the big mouth felt that inexperienced and enthusiastic event-makers and non-vigilant venue managers would be aware of their domain and efficient in their wording next time in order not to offend anyone.


I myself get all the arguments about the whys and the wherefores of finding spaces for those someone else labelled at the time as marginalised groups but heard it all before in 1980. There are wrong and right ways, remember, held up by the laws of the land.


On another platform, art in the community  is for all. Discuss.


Poetry in ‘Ackney

Five years ago I joined a poetry group in Hackney Central Library and felt very uncomfortable. Members either bared their souls or were suspiciously looking around the table. I did go with two nutcases who came along for the ride so in fairness it was difficult for the facilitator to pitch the event correctly. There were many oversized egos present and plenty of earnest poetry reading voices. Stephen Fry knows what I mean.

Anyway the facilitator persevered because he was passionate about his spiritual journey and just wanted to get a creative writing group going without any reference to ‘pop-up’ or any nod to the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012. I could be wrong.

The Wordlovers Society (ugh! How I hate that title) has its celebration of being active in Clapton Library for five years and that takes place freely on 5th December 2013 at the Hackney Museum at 5.30pm. Yay!

So tonight I went to the poetry-share (my word) hosted by Cirillo at the Centre For Better Health in Darnley Road Hackney. I was terribly late having had a nail-biting day. The sessions are every fortnight at 6pm. I arrived there breathless and near to the end but had to get there because of my own passion, my respect for the facilitator and other poets and because its a friendly social meeting.

During the last session we did discuss the use of the word “nutcase” even as we sat in the hall of a building dedicated to people with mental health issues and knowing full well that some of our poets had been “sectioned”. At one point we discussed Baden Prince Junior’s poetry and I’d refused to read one of the poems because it had in it the word “vagina”. Now that word is huglee! Then a member offered “I love the word “c**t and I needed a wire for my dropped jaw. In the same paragraph another guy said “half-caste”. Now I usually correct that racist language, with a big Miss Piggy smile and flick of hair , but I was still reeling from hearing the c-word, enunciated with a licked tongue poking around full lips, and the blatant confession from a woman about loving it.  The statement was made with full-on relish. Note to self, “I really must step up my lesbian detection powers”.

There will be a sharing of poems on 11th December 2013 at The Centre for Better Health Hackney as an added feature in the launch event of RAGWORKS wall-hangings. We shall view, sit around, munch on nibbles, possibly sip some wine and laugh. Everyone is welcome. Five o’clock.

Poetry at The Centre For Better Health Hackney

Haiku, sunshine, Barfly, Baden Prince Junior, Katrina, rude words, talks of arty farty types, cup of sweet tea, great host, smashing company, a nip into Sainsbury’s; what no meat paste?, a ride on the 48 bus, negotiating pedestrianized Bakers Arms and all that for free.

The poetry session takes place every fortnight. We read, we laugh, we dissect, we learn and we meet next on 20th November at 6pm.up_your_street_2[1] (2)

All welcome.

Stories of Migration….again

Up at Leytonstone Library E11 about twenty-three adults and a couple of kiddies waited patiently for the other seven or more audience members to roll in late so we could enjoy some plays. The MC aka playwright/director Paula David told us the four sketches represented the stories told to her by Caribbean people who were immigrants back in the day i.e 1950s to 1980s.

The venue is cosy, shabby and informal. The set on the stage was similar. There was no colour or brightness as the background to miserable personal real accounts acted out by stationary actors including Trevor David and Anthony Chisholm punctuated by the in and outs of an actress playing the part of a newscaster over the decades. The scripts attempted to heighten our senses of what Caribbean immigrants felt during Windrush times and later . When I say senses I mean the colours, the sounds, the smells. I got grey, bathroom damp, and green army uniforms smelling of the earth.

Story-telling on stage is what I visited today. No magic appeared.

Oh yawn. Haven’t we done all this? In the eighties? In the late seventies? Haven’t we the older generation, 50 plus in years, heard all the stories yet? Lenny Henry’s done his stories of first generation Caribbeans to death and now reclines richly on Premier beds.The local youth may have been expected but were absent today. They may have liked the stories but would have wanted action. “Stories of Migration” will likely go into schools. .

This is theatre rather than research and literature so I expected to be drawn in. I was. I expected to be entertained. I wasn’t. I expected surprises. None. I expected theatre. Nope.

The acting was what it was. The actors were mostly alone on the stage with their monologues. They mulled over scripted accounts which were personal histories and many of the audience members will have heard the same kind of stories from their grans and in a couple of cases experienced being in the fifties and head butting with “the grey Better life”. The best line was from the Grenadian who joined the British police force and recognised when he said, as he slid through a career trailing  in the odious remains of a colonial beast staffed by rude irritated white commanders,  “Racism became easier ” (to deal with).

What grants can do eh?

In the audience was Baden Prince Junior. Twas a pleasure to meet again the poet and teacher whose phrase “Don’t be clever, Trevor” is the best way to stop his workshop students of any age over-rhyming.

Don’t be clever, Trevor.

The event today was one out of the many thrown into the mix of “Words Over Waltham Forest”.

I did recommend that anyone wanting to participate in Peter Ashan’s forthcoming Heritage Project centred around immigration stories from  African-Caribbean and Asian Waltham Forest residents 1940-1990 get along to “Stories of Migration. That forthcoming project will be coming to an Asian centre near you! Funding presumed.

Thank you Waltham Forest Libraries for giving the public the opportunity to see free theatre. I’m certain I’m the only one who tells the libraries in advance if I’m not coming as is requested on the Eventbrite booking form. All the empty seats today eh? Fool me.

Three Mills in Stratford is doing a workshop day in October for £39 instead of £120 all about the creative process in film. Hmm.

And there’s more…On Thursday 10th October 6.30pm at Tower Hamlets Archives, 227 Bancroft Rd E1 (205 bus) almost opposite the estate where Billy Ocean grew up (yeah!) there’s an introduction to “Where I Belong” the local oral history project capturing (!) Asian and Black women’s herstories (!) of residency in Tower Hamlets. Free. Open to all.