Community. Define

Soon Up Your Street seniors will go along to represent seniors from around the once poorer London boroughs at an event in Shoreditch organised by Dr Leila Jancovich et al from Leeds University. The aim of the event is to find a positive amongst the structured but failing community and cultural offerings given out to the masses by the traditional cultural centres such as museums and art galleries and recently popped-up community hubs. Coincidentally in Waltham Forest the drive is on to enhance people’s cultural outlooks through art and the arts by the borough showing off as the Borough Of Culture: The first ever Borough Of Culture.

Those seniors twelve years old in the Up Your Street organisation say it like it is and it isn’t grand. They have attended tens of workshops from collage art to 3D printing to interactive theatre to drawing and movement. Often the workshops precede an art exhibition or a museum treat. For years those older participants have known that community engagement is a fluff and that their names settle on a tick-sheet to please funders. Better for the money drip is if the photos taken by the white middle-class trustafarian interns can show people of colour. Any last-minute evaluation sheets are loaded towards no rocking of the boat too. The only way participants can show displeasure is by not returning the next time. Next times are rare but anyway the facilitators at workshops don’t clock the names or faces of their public. Seniors do not matter.

Museum staff have since last year and beyond abandoned their brown wooden wall image to open out their welcoming arms particularly to the disinterested youth and the older more working class generation. Hackney Museum was well ahead over ten years ago and is a wonderful place to learn about the local people and their cultures. People from every background feel represented and own the venue.
The William Morris Gallery morphed into a shop and the café is neither magnet nor affordable to those folk who bring by habit their own flasks.

Art Galleries link with artists outside their perspex walls and intellectualise everything from living spaces to the shirt on your back to entice a population of people who never put art on their daily agenda. This is when art needs a definition. Schools are ready-made bait for culture and it is assumed that working class parents never take their children along the tunnels in Kensington during the half-terms. In all that, community artists spring up in every centre, exhibit and try to belong to an elite in an art world which is business always.

Exhibitions are still expensive. Up Your Street organises community group visits to those ten pound plus exhibitions. The Victoria and Albert Museum staff are ace; nothing is too much trouble. The staff at other places have much to learn about welcoming seniors on freebies.

Trouble is much is advertised on Twitter and at Facebook.
Trouble is the engaged never get called back. Tick-sheets are posted away. Job done.

Why do they at Up Your Street keep on keeping on pushing their way into worlds they never knew existed because they worked for years and transport was expensive and that thing culture was “nothing to do with us”. Was it curiosity, being egged-on, loving that expected cuppa, getting some skills learning and it can all be done before they get the tea on? Those people are ENGAGED for a couple of hours in a day. On Friday the mosque engages them. On Sunday the church engages them. So much is forgettable.
Nuff said.

Anti-university 2018 about to hAPPEN. Yay!

Well, it’s that time of the year when invisible seniors (who said that?) come out of their dens and play with the topical. This year we are going a stage further and telling it like it is. We’ll be sitting at the pool in our bathing suits, swimming costumes, beach-wear and itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis (doubtful on that last one. They don’t go past 18 month old baby sizes in Primark). We will be modestly attired or will we? Depends if fatty thighs offend. We call them thunder thighs ourselves for they have carried generations. It’s all about joining in, being seen and body image issues. Applaud that Gogglebox Gal.

After a dry-out we’ll don ladies’ long-length evening gloves and the men will sport bow-ties and we’ll be ready to view at a soiree of sorts. Mine’s a Baileys. Whoever sees old people having cocktails? On the telly? At the Freemason’s do and that’s hard enough to see? We’ll be doin’ a happenin’ because we are from the Beat generation, the hippy times, the anti-university, anti-establishment, revolution Levi’s rule generation.

Soon come. June 9th in Hackney.at the swimmconflictsoiree

The People’s Liner

Just watched a Timeshift 2009 BBc programme about the holiday steamers, paddle-steamers from 1870s by Bristol and The Clyde before Thomas Cook got his oar in. Absolutely wonderful commentaries and old footage. Up our Street seniors are off to the V&A in April to see the exhibition about luxury and liners and that’s why I recorded the programme to watch from sometime last year.

I have been on paddle steamers. luxury Bahama cruises, Norfolk Broads, Shetland ferries, Mississippi steamers, Broxbourne boats, The Floating Cinema, and on and on, even trawlers at dawn with the trawler-men way back in old world St Osyth when the builders’ tea tasted of fishermen’s buttocks so am looking forward to sumptuousness in the V&A. A senior thought I was arranging a group cruise. I will do that when my lottery ticket comes up.

Much of the BBC footage was from England Wales and Scotland 1950s and so the traditional housewives’ headscarves were truly all over the place.

Last night I had Atlantic sardines done from frozen in the oven. They were Aldi’s in date by a year and reduced from £2 to £1. “I’ll have them with salad while Corrie’s on”. What a disappointment. I should have fried the critters to get that crunchy taste. I was reminded romantically of cuithes drying in the wind outside crofters’ houses in Scotland twenty years ago. When those old folk die, that tradition will go also like bannocks and clootie dumplings whether Waitrose substitutes or not on Burns week.

Brrr. Too cold to go to The Mill to see their Memories exhibition.