This getting old malarkey is hard. Up Your Street is ten years old now. Many of the original seniors at Up Your Street are no longer out and about or joining in group activities. They are no longer interested in volunteering or going along anymore to workshops about collages or memories because what’s on offer saturates their brains: One hub does an art workshop; all the others follow. They have been talked to for years in a most patronising way and have known for ages that their presence as representing seniors in the community at the meeting places does not make them more visible. They are never re-engaged. Their turning up gives relief to the organisers who in turn satisfy the funders. The community has then been served and the Big Society goes from strength to strength.
Arthritis prevents these ageing seniors from museum trawling and tea-dancing.
People get older and in the main, tired. No longer is a one hour activity increased to three hours because of travel become part of the day. That one experience is a day out. Sapped energy prevents a mooch around the shops and spending nearly three pounds on a coffee is not an option. Home in those four walls with TV for company is not so bad and who is anyone to judge?
People’s dietary habits change. Diabetes takes away the joy of a cuppa and cake at a local hub. Vegetarians and gluten-free followers club in with vegans so social outings to local cafés turn into sessions where participants quiz each other with suspicion about their choice of food and that pulls people apart. Differences are highlighted rather than the nicer light of bringing people closer to each other in conversation. The cafés catering for all dietary needs are expensive and probably for the young. It’s difficult to chose a venue.
Those missed Up Your Streeters who ten years ago subscribed to receiving emails about activities and events no longer use email. They in the main never use a mobile phone and have not expanded their use of digital technology or changed their negative opinions about social media. It is obvious that in another era a young intern helped them to set up an email account and that was that. Added to that many seniors pick up emails once in a blue moon and then at a public place such as a community centre.
Unwittingly by moving away from Up Your Street those original subscribers have isolated themselves from the wider community. Up Your Street is less exciting without them.
Of course just like playground habits, people move away from others they just don’t like. Experience has taught me to be aware of who shares an event with whom if everyone is to have a positive lasting experience.
People are very good at keeping inside their comfort zone. They dipped into the weird and wonderful but came back to what they knew for fifty years. I know from over the years who prefers poetry to plasticene installations, tea dances to classical concerts.
And I cannot forget to mention about how seniors become grandparents so go off the social scene for a worthwhile while. Child minding is exhausting.
Those who cannot access Up Your Street activities and became older and less fit will not return. They will cease to use their Freedom Passes. They are over seventy and entering another chapter in their lives. What fun they had though. Some went to “You Me Bum Bum Train”, unwanted and invisible by the way; some became market researchers during London 2012 and some navigated locks in Little Venice. So much they did.
Naively, I thought they were hibernating. Not so.
I include them by using emails still until they tell me not to or occasionally landline them and even post details to them because never say never.
I invited myself to the launch of the rise of Unfinished Histories all about Inter Action 1968-1988 at the Kentish Town Community Centre. Inter Action was a community politico hippy on the edge but observing boundaries street-theatre movement set-up back in the day which no-one I knew ever talked about or knew about. Mind you in those days we didn’t have transport links like the 393 bus.
In my youth I went to loads of alternative and mainstream theatre and joined the casts doing “You Me Bum Bum Train” in Bethnal Green recently and “Imagine You are Everyone” or something during the Riots, based in Hackney yuk Wick. So I kept my hand in and thought today would be up my street.
I responded to the call-out to be a volunteer interviewer for Unfinished Histories and never even got a reply. I thought maybe they wanted young black and disadvantaged. So wrong was I. I let it pass. By experience I foretold what the participants would look and talk like today. Met ’em all before so when the opening speech included “And we have many estates around here (which need community awareness)” my disinterest rose. This is the same as the Mill In E17 coming into E10 to show the people how to live as one big friendly coherent community. Dream on. In Kentish Town there are loads of private houses with families obviously being deprived of community project patronising.
We were in the party today in the main one generation.
The time was taken up with actors and stage managers relating their personal memories and describing at length how they came to be involved in Inter Action. Anyone not from Inter Action might have thought they were at someone else’s party.
I learnt nothing except that the 393 bus is bearable before 10 am on a Saturday.
Many of Up Your Street subscribers out in force rehearsing at Stratford Theatre Royal (TRSE) for the “You Me Bum Bum Train” look alike performance-production “Heartfelt” this weekend. What a commitment.
I on the other hand am an iams cat and was installing RAGWORKS at The Darnley Gallery Hackney. Very pleased to be exhibiting in ‘appening ‘Ackney. Two exhibitions on at present; one in Darnley Road and the other in The Mill Coppermill Lane E17. I took along my whole collection of 28 wall-hangings plus elephant blankets plus this and plus that. The director decided to go minimalist. There’s a plan that I go in frequently and change the hangings to show what’s to be shown. Like I’ll be asked. The launch will be the time that RAGWORKS becomes a moving picture show. It’s a fact that I know only one person outside my own offspring who visits art galleries at all. I know that my passion was spent in the sewing and that RAGWORKS is on point what with recycling graduating to up-cycling and fairy stories being the new Irving Welsh. Good luck to me.
Lots of nice free goodies to look forward to. Up Your Street went into dormant state yesterday in its email form. I have other projects to commit to . I still tweet and facebook events but not a lot of seniors still are up to the mark when it comes to using social networking creatively and for information. Look at Jeremy Kyle slagging off social networking sites then has his own Facebook account for his runners to fill. Ah the media world of telly eh.
Amazing sight down Lea Bridge Road as the “Save Our Marshes” tents caught the Spring sunshine today. What a mess! I don’t know one person who walks along the Leyton Marshes. I’ve been doing it for years way back when the word “conservation” was just one specialist piece of vocabulary in a Social Geography degree syllabus. Been over there in the days when the grass was elephant high and lunatics sat cross-legged in it.
Ah yes. the goodies: Free Rich Mix cinema screenings of William Raban’s Londonist films on April 21st. Free social art evening on May 3rd in Stratford east PictureHouse. Free members’ screening of “Salmon Fishing in The Yemen” on Sunday 15th April at Hackney and Stratford east Picturehouses. Free screening of “Johnny English Reborn” at The Rio in Dalston on Wed 18th April and it goes on and on. That’s before I’ve started on the arts and tea dances.