There was an Easter Party today for  members of a North London seniors’ community project and it was rather fine what with tons of buffeted salad, low alcohol wine, scrumptious dessert tarts, a live band, a whiff of bodies, a generous raffle, a little bit of condescension, a difficult quiz, and home-made Easter bonnets. Twas right good.

claremont easter4

A few days ago there was a good meeting of seniors in East London. It was in an unusual venue. Years ago there was a public toilet down Chatsworth Road on the way to Chats Palace. Now it’s The Convenience, a scrubbed up and scrubbed out homely café where NANAs grandmas cook away plating up nourishing feasts, and in the evening a chef does Hanoi Nights.

That’s busy enough amidst the gleaming tiles and inventive menu cards.

The Buildings Exploratory for seniors in Hackney and now Islington has teamed up with NANAs so that seniors can come along, sit ,chat, go for a guided walk, share information all about the history of Clapton and have a nice cup of tea.  Local residents might go along to meet and learn. There are no daughters of the Windrush generation but residents who have lived in their Hackney homes since birth having managed to escape the dreaded doodlebugs and rent-rise evictions, sons of labourers who have travelled along the Thames living and working by the Lea, those who live in flats where the stench from the Stratford tanneries in days of yore choked their mouths and followed them on their way to work at Lesney’s.

We can’t talk fast enough to get our stories out and shared whilst our facilitator eggs us on with grey photos gleaned from The Hackney Archives.

The meet-ups are every fortnight at 10.30 am for a couple of hours which leaves ample time to stroll along Chatsworth Road and see the old kitchen utensils in a local vintage shop or smell the crepes from The Creperie.


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.

Issue 28 Up Your Street5. London 2012 weekend and more

Sat 23rd July  free 12.30-2.30pm Tower of London foreshore open to public. Turn up in your wellies. Tower Hill EC3 (credit to IanVisits)

                        free 11-1pm and 3-5pm Floating Cinema guided boat tours on the waterways which connect the 5 London Olympic and Paralympic games boroughs. Meeting at Dace Rd, Hackney Wick. Probably booked out by now but worth watching it embark. (no wheelchair access).

Sun  24th July  free 1.15-3.15pm Tower of London foreshore open to public again

Mon 25th July free   12.30-2.30pm Round Chapel Hackney at Lower Clapton . Last ballroom dancing for over 6os with Malcolm teaching everyone.

                         free 3pm Cyberlink E10 (by Tesco) Introductory session for the free film-making course in Leyton.

                          free  6pm  BBC filming at Sarah Bonnell School , Deanery Rd Stratford 

E. 15 as part of BBC London 2012 ‘one year to go’. Entry by application for tickets.(BBC website)

Tues 26th July free 1-2pm at St John’s At Hackney. Dance exercise for seniors.

                         free to watch 6pm The Lord Mayor of London speaks about the regeneration of Spitalfields Market. Mansion House EC4 (credit to IanVisits).

                          free 6pm Hackney Museum. African Roots meeting towards an exhibition in October. All welcome.

                           free 6pm Planning  meeting for the Stratford Festival 20th August with Action Community Team in Stratford. Phone Laura at Newham Council Community Projects for venue and details.

Wed 27th July free 1.10-1.40pm St John’s Church in Stratford E15 . Jazz piano recital.

Thurs  28th July free  2-3pm Guildhall Library “Lightermen on the Thames”, Talk and archives.  Should book.

                                No Agewell Singers in Stratford Circus until September.

                               free 6-7.30pm “Haggerston” archives and talk at Hackney Museum. Book via Linda at the Museum. Refreshments and good company.

Fri     29th July free 7pm at Waltham Forest Assembly Hall Forest Rd E17 “Windrush Party”