Where have all the flowers gone?

Was at Wanstead Tap tonight in Winchelsea Road Leytonstone. I wanted to meet Doreen Fletcher older artist of all east end buildings neglected and dead. I expected a stand-offish kinda woman but experienced a comic lady as warm as a tea-cosy. I expected an audience of the young, gifted and white but instead sat amongst about seventy very mature white adults. I think the only black person who ever went to the Wanstead Tap was Idris Elba but I jest: Benjamin Zephania was there last week. I overheard (as I write there’s a conversation on Radio 3 all about Epping Forest and Wanstead Park. Jabba jabba) a punter ask her partner whether the audience were Forest Gate people and she was chatting about the route to The Tap away from the dangerous roads by The Holly Tree. Well firstly the roads are safe for families, pimps, beggars and working folk. The pub is about to undergo a makeover, a social cleansing if you will.
And the audience was so not the Forest Gate people I know. I never ever see white grey-haired middle-class people on Woodgrange Road E7. Never. I see those gems in the opposite direction, in Wanstead. So yes what I expected was not seen.

At the end of the discourse concerning the painted buildings and Doreen’s reasons for picking her subjects, and after a few questions and answers all managed by the mysterious Gentle Author then we had an auction of soon to be rare prints of Doreen’s work. Well, I was in my element and in the room we reached the dizzy heights. I was on a roll when the Wanstead Tap owner, the actual auctioneer, outbid me and actually stopped any further bidding by gazumping then presenting his bought art work as a donation to Newham Bookshop.

The second print was going high too and someone beat me by a fiver. Not bothered. Next year’s flavour is dusting away the cobwebs from her canvases as I write. Art is a fickle thing.

Art is a money-making thing, a woman laying on a couch counting her golden tresses and wondering whether her eyes should meet on one side of her face or between her treasury vulva. All depends on her moon.

So that was a good evening after having had a tasteless lunch at Yum Yum’s in Stoke Newington. Done that. Tick off.

Doreen Fletcher will talk to the public again for three quid a pop on January 30th at The Nunnery Gallery in Bow. Place to be. ( I paid £8 for tonight’s thrill).

Write Idea at Whitechapel.

Up Your Street subscribers attended the Write Idea writing Festival over a dew days  at the Idea Store, Whitechapel.

Today we enjoyed Spitalfield’s own “Gentle Author, meeting Alex Wheatle, Irenosen Okojie and Sunny Singh, and getting fired up by Owen Jones. We aso had free food courtesy of Tower Hamlets and Bhaji of Docklands.

A child of five was busy video-taping Owen Jones.

Alex chaired and managed comfortably the conversation or debate  about  publishers’ lack of interest in publishing works by authors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Around the late 1990s there was a shower of BME published authors in the UK and the way was set for a post racial literary stage. Not any more. We are going backwards. To me though the struggle for BME authors is aligned with the lack of BME people in telly adverts, on stage, and in TV dramas. Nothing changes.

Owen Jones! Well, he’s Jesus.

The Gentle Author showed us and explained to us loads of photographs from the early C20th about children all called “Spitalfields Nippers”. What was interesting was that the photographer had identified by name each child and those children’s lives have been discovered.

Jerry and Zeppelins.

Was that an eminent writer aka historian of east London giving a talk or was it a drop-in session for coffee cup holding hairies and mobile-charging fidgets?

Never seen the like.

The Whitechapel Idea Store was buzzing. Who designed that dirty -looking box of a building? My friend couldn’t find it ; the second biggest monolith on the block. Volunteers working cheerily for the Literary Festival were everywhere as were the free pens and coffee.

Jerry White started his presentation quietly and I thought we thirty people were in for an hour of seat-numbing boredom. Not so. That man knows his stuff and kept on  target. Very happy I attended despite people going in and out of the swing doors,. Doesn’t that look rude to other people? Some great questions about WW1 and the people living through it came from the floor. There were the inevitable questions about the role of women and them pesky Suffragettes. The conversation swung to the fact that opponents to the Great War were compliant and ceased their noise-making. I was forced to stand on my feet, mic-less and declare that history records through accounts and records the considered opposition by the dangerous women of the WILPF, The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Stamp that floor and clap those hands. True to form the male historian wasn’t too up on that WILPH stuff. That’s exactly how history or herstory here gets hidden. Jerry’s book panders to the loveliness of multi-culture and he was quite rehearsed in talking about the Chinese of Limehouse and the Lascars of Wapping and their Legacy.

Whatevs. It was jolly good because we the public were well-received and the acts are first-class…Gentle Author tomorrow. Yay!