Blog Archives

A lot’s gone on…

Over the last few days. There’s been meteors that fell in Russia and another that missed completely, murders in South Africa and London and horse meat in processed food. David Cameron has been doing his best impression of a talking head in India: that of a man saying what he thinks his current audience wants to hear and the Work Programme court judgement was mysteriously swept under the carpet in under 24 hours.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do know this: the longer we allow ourselves to accept the constant diet of pap we are fed, whether it be via the media or the food giants, the longer we will be consuming rubbish in all its various forms.

Just saying.

I need to look at a Richard Scarry book to get some perspective on all this…

A great shot

the subject makes this for me.

Taken in Maldon, Essex by Lockhart Murdoch of David White (photographer of the pram sheds shot yesterday) and a man of many talents; to be found at the Beecholme blog.

Maldon scoping next shot_tonemapped_800pixel

Painting the pram sheds

As the world moves on apace in East London in preparation for the Olympics: they tear down old post-war housing, grotty little shopping centres are turned into consumerist Meccas and those pale ghost bikes spring up with their sad garlands of flowers, some things stay the same.

Stamford Hill is a Hasidic Jewish stronghold and some of the council housing there has the luxury of a pram shed to go with the tenancy of a flat. Of course, from time to time, someone has to come along and give these outbuildings a lick of paint.

My mind travels back to the days when mothers pushed proper shiny prams (uncollapsible in every way) and lived above ground level, without lifts. Straightaway you see why you’d need, not a garage, but a pram shed.

I am reminded of pushing my own sister round the block in one, a second-hand cream contraption, with instructions to keep going round and around until she stopped screaming, sometimes with Toby the dog for company. She was a colicky baby, perhaps. Just as well we didn’t have pram sheds in Lincolnshire, if we had it would have certainly crossed my mind to park them both in it. And close the door quietly before tiptoeing down the dyke to watch a fenland sunset…

There’s an excellent insight to life on a Hackney estate from an aesthete’s point of view at this blog.

Saying Hello

Yesterday I braved my fear of heights and went up into the loft. Amongst other things, I brought down a box of old photos which I am hoping will keep the blog occupied whilst I get over my assignment-induced post-traumatic stress disorder.

These photos were taken when I was in my mid to late twenties. We (Finkywink & I) lived in Clapton, just off the Murder Mile, overlooking the River Lea and Walthamstow Marshes. I used to walk this pair up the river in the direction of Hertfordshire, towards Walthamstow across lammas land and down to Hackney Marshes’ zillion football pitches with no bother at all. It was the best place I have ever lived for fantastic dog-walking on the doorstep.

This photo was taken when I had come back from some trip or another, they were pleased to see me, and were due a big walk.

*advance excuse for apparent habitual wearing of hiking boots*

Back in the Day

Three phrases sprang to mind within a second or two of looking at this family snap recently.

Skinnin teet
Style & patten
and more pertinently, Who da Guv’nor?

Taken on the Leaside Estate, off Mount Pleasant Lane, Clapton where we (you know who you are) ended up living about twenty years after the fact. The fact being that The Guv’nor was deh pon street running tings as the sweet shop’s best customer, before hanging out at the swings.

Javaid Alvi – artist in residence @ The Boundary

Once upon a time when I lived in London and the streets seemed paved with gold I used to love going out to eat. I could hardly hear about a “room” and I was off to inspect and dine (Michelin style). I suppose, in the final analysis, there are many more restaurants that I would like to have eaten in than I actually have, but hell, you can’t have it all can you?

My top 5 (in no particular order) were:

The Criterion (room, less food), The River Cafe (food and location), Club Gascon (food in the dark), The Oxo Tower (location, view, cocktails) and any old Carluccio’s (apart from the one in Islington for which I bear an eternal grudge).

Please bear in mind these are old favourites so are in no way a current recommendation. I have been to a few Conran establishments, but the food has never been memorable. We once went to Conran’s Alcazar in Paris which featured a mural on les escaliers by Javaid Alvi, an artist I sat for a number of times when we both lived on opposing sides of the Murder Mile in Clapton. How glamorous. Despite his rich patron, said artist was to all appearances starving in a garret. I still took his cash for sitting there for hours though. Despite (or perhaps because of) my penchant for eating out, I wasn’t exactly Charlie KuNuckers on the other side of the road.

In the end sitting in silence, albeit fully-clothed, was way too weird and quite a lot boring and I eventually stopped going as there seemed no end in sight. No great work of art that is to say. He never once showed me his work and I never once asked. I definitely have an attitude to sitting, it is the same as that I adopt when I go to the GP. I sit down and keep quiet and don’t ask any questions no matter what the diagnosis. Sometimes I have to try not to cry, or act mad. Hard to believe I know, but perfectly true.

Alvi went on to do the mural in Alcazar and is now the artist in residence at The Boundary in the East End. There’s a photo of the mural in Paris below: I wonder which funny shape I am?