Category Archives: General stuff

For the community-minded among you…

Have just received a couple of emails about local events… and thanks to Tired of London Tired of Life for this pic, which I sort of borrowed, hope that’s OK.

Those who oppose the 44 million pounds (sorry my pound sign is nowhere to be found on keyboard) may want to join Hackney Unites for just one pound a month. They have produced a tabloid newspaper which, if  you live on the east end of Graham Road, was delivered by yours truly, promoting the national demonstration against the cuts that will be taking place on 26 March.

As part of their contribution to making that event a success they will be holding a meeting from 7 to 8.30pm, on Tuesday 20 March in the basement room of Café Mostra (86 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7PA).

Hackney Unites is also supporting an initiative to make Hackney into a recognised ‘Borough of Sanctuary’, welcoming those fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries.

Sign the petition online:

And for those who live or play around the Lea Valley Park, have a look at the Lea Valley Federation website at They have just published details of new developments planned for the area, and will be holding a meeting on Tuesday night (March 15) at 7.30 at the Round Chapel Schoolroom, Powerscroft Road, E5 to discuss the future of the park.

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Why do the best lines come once you’re on the platform…..?

So I walked onto the train at Liverpool Street, about to collapse from the heat, and spotted a seat right by the door. There was someone sitting in the seat closest to the aisle, but nothing on the window seat apart from a rather ridiculous purple snakeskin bag (very Posh Spice circa 1996).

Anyway, I was at zero tolerance due to being extremely hot and with ankles like bloody flooded paperbark treetrunks due to being in a reasonably advanced state of pregnancy. So I said to the bag’s owner, a youngish, sunglassed woman, presumably of southern European descent judging by her accent. ‘Do you mind moving over?’

‘I do actually,’ she said, and instead grabbed her vile bag and stayed where she was.

‘You do mind?’ I asked, squeezing past and collapsing beside her.

‘Yes. I do.’

‘Well, it’s a public train.’

‘You’ve got your seat. Aren’t you happy?’

‘I am happy actually. Thank you so much,’ I replied in a sarcastic tone.

‘You’re welcome.’

I mean, honestly.

I spent the rest of the journey reading a rather annoying, rambling novel that I may have to abandon and thinking of better comeback lines than ‘it’s a public train.’ Not one of my better ones.

Anyway, I just had to vent. I swear to God I had a brief moment of truly understanding how people go postal.


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And now for something more cheerful

Well, I’m still seething about the Savoy Cafe, and when it opens I’m going to march in and personally ask the people behind it how, exactly, they sleep at night.

But it’s gone. It’s a bit like the fact that we now have to listen to William Hague on a regular basis…. what can you do, except avert your eyes and visualise Japanese cherry blossoms.

And then this week I received a couple of emails that reminded me that there are also good people in the world. not just law-dodging, history contempting, money grabbing …. deep breaths….. Japanese cherry blossoms…

So I thought I’d mention a Tea Party, happening this Sunday from 5pm to 8pm at Tina We Salute You, which is being held to launch the Oxfam East London Campaign Group.

Find out more here

And then there’s a Vegan Gourmet Night being held at The Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green. They are also launching a rockabilly night, lime and coconut cupcakes, a summer fete on 12 June and tomorrow night, with free entry, a Jamboree, featuring rockabilly music. I don’t know how the organiser at the Gallery Cafe sleeps at night either.

You can find out more about this venue here

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Who’s battling here? Some thoughts on the Barbican’s Australian Film Festival

Australian expats love it when the annual Aussie Film Festival at the Barbican rolls around. It’s a chance to escape home for an hour or two, eat Cherry Ripes and Burger Rings and lurk in the foyer, sneaking glances at the Aussie celebs that sometimes turn up. Plus you almost always bump into someone you know.

This year I only saw two films, Bran Nue Dae and Beautiful Kate. And I was enchanted and disappointed in equal measures. Let’s start with Bran Nue Dae. It’s a musical and tells the story of a young Aboriginal man who leaves boarding school to travel back to his hometown of Broome. It addresses racism, homelessness, displacement, alcohol abuse and incarceration… and it’s funny. Really, laugh-out-loud funny. Joyful music, over-the-top acting… you leave feeling optimistic about life.

Here’s a trailer. Hopefully it will at least get a DVD release here so you can see it for yourself. It’s perfect Friday-night-at-the-end-of-a-long-week viewing.

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Photographer Tom Hunter’s ‘Woman reading a possession order’

I first saw this photograph in Hackney Museum a few years ago, and it was one of those images – and with my visual memory, there aren’t too many – that stayed with me. I didn’t note down the name of the photographer, and so it seemed destined to be one of those things you fall in love with but never come across again.

Until I read an article in the Guardian late last year, where the artist Tom Hunter talks about how the image came about. He was living in a squat in Hackney and spent a whole day with the woman in the picture, his friend Filipa, trying to get the perfect shot. She had been sent a possesssion order by the council, and the image is inspired by Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window by Vermeer – another artist who depicted ordinary people.

As he explains in the article, he wanted  to ‘take a picture showing the dignity of squatter life – a piece of propaganda to save my neighbourhood’. You can read the full article here.

I remember reading photography guidelines for an Observer competition and it specifically stated ‘no shopping trollies dumped in ponds’, while the submission guidelines of the literary magazine Ambit categorically rejects ‘I’ve-got-no-money ‘bed-sitter’ poems and also advises writers to avoid’ shards’, ‘abysses’ and ‘iridescence’ – or, more simply, cliches.

And I think it is Hunter’s deliberate refusal of a cliched representation of homelessness that makes this picture special – you have these rich colours and beautiful light and the classic mother-and-child pairing, so in many ways it’s a celebratory, almost reverent image. It would be too easy to take depressing photos of a woman in a squat, whereas this photo is so beautiful that you can feel the photographer’s respect and empathy for the subject, and feel it yourself as a viewer.


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