Category Archives: News

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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The Bum

Congratulations are in order for TP Bennett’s Bezier apartments on the Old Street roundabout, which have come runner-up in the Carbuncle Cup, judged by members of Building Design.

Nicknamed the Bezier Bum, when you drive past you do wonder just how no one missed the fact that the apartments resemble an enormous bottom.

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Gangs of Hackney

The other day I had one of those staring-out-the-car-window drives when East London seems to unfold like a one-shot movie. At the Cat and Mutton pub at Broadway Market two men stumbled into the sunshine, and one climbed into a waiting cab and passed out. The cabbie, realising he possibly wasn’t going to get paid by this bloke, asked his friend to settle the fare in advance. His friend opened his wallet, pulled out a thick wad of notes and flung a twenty in the general direction of the cabbie before staggering back to the bar and his next drink.

The next scene was further down the road, where fifteen or so young, hooded black kids were lined up on the low wall of an estate, listening intently to an older white bloke giving a rallying speech. His voice was raised, his arms were waving and he had their undivided attention. I don’t know East London’s gangs well enough to know which one this was, but I’ve been thinking about gangs a lot this week, since the shooting of sixteen-year-old Agnes Sina-Inakoju in a takeaway shop in Hoxton. This is a terrible way to die, and you can’t begin to imagine the effect on her family ­– her mother was quoted as saying ‘I wasn’t there for her’, but how could she predict such a thing would happen? Continue reading


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Have you been harassed in Hackney?

The Hackney Post reports that a 25-year-old by the name of Vicky Simister is launching an anti-harassment campaign in Hackney, after being ‘tailed by cars or having comments made about me, and I’ve even been assaulted a couple of times’.

She has spoken to Hackney Police about the issue, but has received a ‘mixed response’, saying many people seem to think it’s just part of life.

Her campaign website can be found here:

A builder in Hackney Road has been quoted as saying, ‘Some people need to lighten up’ but it will be interesting to see how much support the campaign gets – and it’s worth noting that builders have lifted their game in recent years, anyway, thanks to the Considerate Construction Scheme.

Personally I think she’s a brave woman – campaigns like these seem to bring all the misogynists out of from under their slimy rocks – and I hope it takes off. Continue reading


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The Big Read: World Book Day event at London Muslim Centre, Whitechapel

Tomorrow is World Book Day and there will be a lot of kids reading at London Muslim Centre.

The event is organised by IF Charity, and the aim is to break the Guinness Record for the largest number of people reading in one place. The current record is 3032 kids, and was set in Dubai in 2008.

The book of choice is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and there will be around 5,000 kids taking part – it’s at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel this Thursday from 9am to 9pm, and you know what that means afterwards

Find out more on IF Charity’s website


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Is it just me or are bus drivers losing it?

God, the buses have been ghastly lately.

Last night at Liverpool Street the 242 arrived, rammed with commuters, and the bus driver refused to open the front door until every last person had got off. By then there was a rib-busting crush at the door – it was raining – and one bloke simply got on through the back door. The bus driver spotted him and made him get off – after lengthy negotiations we all had to watch from the rainy pavement – so he got on through the front door behind me.

We started moving, but at the next bus stop more yelling was heard from below. It appeared that the bloke was being told to get off, even though he’d paid for the journey and come through the front door with everyone else. The yelling escalated into accusations of racism hurled at the bus driver (he was Chinese; the bloke who’d got on the back door was black).

I was reading My Brilliant Career, so for a while was far away on a drought-stricken dairy farm in Australia, but as the yelling continued it became clear that an intervention was needed. Some sparky young Aussie girl yelled down the stairs – Ask the driver for his name, he has to give it to you!

So I went down and did just that, and although he didn’t give it to me, he did decide to start driving again. The driver and the bloke (along with a few other commuters who’d got involved) continued arguing about who’d been in the country longer and the bloke assured the driver that you’ll be dead within two weeks, blud.

All very pleasant.

At this point the bus was moving, albeit rather jerkily and with much yelling, so I retreated upstairs with the bloke close behind me, smiling.

I blame Boris.

Bus drivers are having to take a much harder line on people climbing on through the back door because people are sneaking on for free. They are sneaking on for free because the bendy buses have been taken off the streets. Now I know that it’s wrong to ride a bus for free, which is what half the people on the 38 used to do. But times are tough, and at least the bendy buses were always moving, because the drivers could simply turn a blind eye to fare-dodgers.

And let’s not forget that while tube fares (generally used by wealthier Londoners) have gone up by 3.9% this year, bus fares – the cheapest way to get around – went up by a much harsher 12.7%. Particularly tough in East London, which doesn’t even have a tube. And as for people who commute into London – your Surrey stockbrokers and the like – well, their fares fell by 0.4%, in line with inflation.

If you can decipher it, the Conservative Manifesto has a few more treats like this in store. I particularly like the fact that missing an NHS dentist appointment will – under Cameron – incur a £10 fine. Now who will that hit the hardest?

I do feel sorry for bus drivers – it must be incredibly stressful trying to deal with fare dodgers and abuse all day. And quite frankly, public transport should be free anyway.


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Hawkins\Brown architects refurbish Stoke Newington Town Hall

First of all, lets raise a glass to the wonderful JD Salinger. I can’t believe he was 91. And I’m not alone in wondering what will happen to all those novels he has supposedly been stashing in a vault since he went into hiding in 1953.

Speaking of intriguing things stashed in vaults, I visited Stoke Newington Town Hall on Wednesday night to listen to a talk by the architects from Hawkins\Brown, who were responsible for its £8 million overhaul. And they had just two original drawings to work from when they began planning, which meant an awful lot of digging around to find out exactly how the joint was put together. Continue reading

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