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Hackney: not just my preoccupation

It’s funny how related things all come into your life (apparently unbidden) in a short space of time. I bought a book, I mentioned it here – Iain Sinclair’s Hackney, that rose-red empire. I started reading it. Then on a different quest I looked at the blog of an artist living in France. She mentioned Stephen Gill, a photographer who I linked to last week re his Series of Disappointments. Subsequently, I turned the page of the book and there is Iain Sinclair writing about Stephen Gill…

In the meantime, a kind friend, booked tickets for last night’s Metal Salon hosted by Rachel Lichtenstein (Rodinsky’s Room). A fascinating evening, it introduced us to the work of oral historian, Alan Dein. And when I got home I looked at Alan’s Speechification site which pulled together all the loose ends and linked to this the Hackney Podcasts featuring all the above-named under one amazing roof.

Recommended: Stephen Gill’s description of how he put together the Series of Disappointments collection in Edition 15. This is not just any old podcast, this is a Sony award winning Internet radio site!

by Stephen Gill

Saturdays promise so much: or a “Series of Disappointments”

Of course, it’s not quite so bad on the deliver so little front during the football close season, unless you are Milwall or Swindon fan, but most of you will get where I’m coming from with this?

The hopes and dreams (or wishes and horses) factor is multiplied at least tenfold on a Saturday. Hopes for sporting triumphs, a big win on the nags, the lottery, bingo even and of course the chances of a Big Night Out if you have any energy left after a working week (or money after paying a gas bill).

I find myself suddenly gripped today with an urge to go to Newmarket, but I am going to sit on that off-piste urge until it gives in. Saturdays are not great days for punting – too many races to get your head round and not enough iron discipline in constant supply either.

Today, instead, I will carry on reading a book: Hackney, that Rose-Red Empire by Iain Sinclair. This book, for a Hackney refugee like me, is like gold dust. On the page I am turning into streets I know like the back of my hand but I am discovering small creases on the palm that I have never noticed before. It is a delight.

Sinclair has written about, Stephen Gill’s photography of Hackney in the book and through a circuitous route I ended up at his website last night – the link goes directly to the Series of Disappointments collection, but I loved the Hackney Wick market photographs too.

These feature the rough house market that used to take place every Sunday morning a few minutes walk from our last London flat. It was not a market such as you would recognise, taking place on the dusty dirt of the old Hackney Wick dog track and car park. It had a definite air of frontier bandit country. We went once, intrigued by the thousands of people returning laden with blue carrier bags. The Guv’nor, as streetwise as you get, bought a radio with no insides. That’s the kind of place it was. And of course, you wouldn’t be taking it back.
No way.

So here are my radios without innards for today. At least I know they won’t tune in to nothing from the outset.

Lord Shanakill 3.30 Haydock
Mureb 5.05 Newmarket
Dazinkski 4.45 Haydock

And as it’s Greyhound Derby final night I am making a mental note to back the winner (T2 Lyreen Mover out of Lyreen Diva) and then buy this book. I miss dusty old Hackney and I miss the Lowlife.

A Bad Friday (I wanted blue)

The Guv’nor had a bad day at the office last Friday, it was very stressful he said. Now this is more information that is usually forthcoming in a month, so I was compelled to inquire further.

Woodberry Down was once a really depressing estate on the Seven Sisters Road near Manor House on the Piccadilly line (that’s the dark blue line). It has had loads of money spent on it, so it may be improved, but being on that busy thoroughfare you can only facelift so much I’m guessing. This is where Friday’s decorating job was; for a lovely Turkish family. Due to water damage they only needed one wall matching and painting. The Guv’nor’s guv’nor had done the matching, so the main man turned up with an apprentice and a tin of paint.

As it turned out, the paint was blue as required by the wall to be painted, but the wrong shade of blue. No matter, the Guv’nor says, I know what that is, that’s Doll’s House blue. So off they go in the van to Hackney Wick to get a bit of Doll’s House. The trip to Hackney Wick is not that far, a few miles at most, but it also requires getting through Clapton or Stoke Newington and can take some time…

Back at the flat, one trip to the Wick under their belts, they give the wall one coat of Doll’s House. It’s the wrong blue. So far so bad, but maybe a little bit understandable, Doll’s House is close but not close enough. The next bit is where my mouth started hanging open. So now the apprentice says, and remember this is in a house full of people who actually live in it and pay rent and so forth, I know what colour that is – it’s Pompadour. Doh says the Guv’nor of course it is. Why didn’t you say that when I was going down the Doll’s House blind alley?

So off they go to Hackney Wick for the second time and bring back the apprentice’s best effort.

And, I asked? Yes, you guessed it – what do apprentices know. That’s why they have their own horse races to ride in. So the Guv’nor having played his best hand and having wasted enough time to have painted the whole room in the first pot of paint that was the wrong colour was forced to resort to getting the colour chart from the van – which he was gracious enough to admit he should have done in the first place.

Why I asked, majoring in annoying questions, did you not get the chart out in the first place?

Because the Guv’nor said I am a man and men do not look at maps even when they are lost.

Good answer. Perfectly understandable. I have never liked Woodberry Down.

Just needs a lick of Pompadour

Suffolk via the Olympic Park 2010

WARNING: This blog is a resolution-free zone

We used to live a stone’s throw from all this. This stadium is pretty much on the site of the old Hackney Wick dog track and there is another, larger one, visible towards Stratford. In a way it would have been nice to stay amongst all the excitement, but imagine the dust.

The goose lunch was superb (not greasy at all šŸ˜‰ ) and most restorative. Thank you!