Festivities and Hackney Festive Light Switch On!

Sunday, 2nd December, 2018

If November was dark and rainy, December is starting off very mild and even sunny sometimes. And it’s getting pretty Christmassy!

On upper Well Street, the florists are bringing out their Christmas best
At St Paul's church, the yellowed leaves are a nice mix with the trees on the tree lot.
At St Paul’s church, the yellowed leaves are a nice mix with the trees on the tree lot.
And this Turkish kebab place is accidentally festive!
And this Turkish kebab place on Kingsland Road is accidentally festive!

Check these daylight hours, though! By 3pm twilight creeps in and between 4 and 4:30 it’s just like night time. Yesterday I was thinking that, if I were working, it would be properly dark by the time I headed home. I’m not sure if other years have been so dark but they must have been. There’s just more cloud this year…?

Is it really December?
Is it really December?

However, December has lots of promise. I started jotting things down on one of my quickly drawn up calendars – I like to do this on paper and revise it almost daily. And this week there will be two workshops (one a serious mental health one, and one a fun Christmassy one) two family visits and there’s company coming over for dinner, if Susanne doesn’t succumb to her threatening cold. And Hackney is having a Festive Lights event, marking the first night of Chanukah and turning on the lights of the Christmas tree. I love lights and candles so I’m in!

Hackney's invitation!
Hackney’s invitation!

Continue reading “Festivities and Hackney Festive Light Switch On!”

Dark November Days – digging out from the doldrums?

Friday 30 November, 2018

Doldrums for the weather and for my blog. Hopefully, the photos will tell the story of what’s been happening during this mostly dreary month. With any luck my ennui won’t show!

Taken early in November. The bark is going and the leaves getting sparse
Taken early in November from my window. The bark is going and the leaves getting sparse
Street art in the back streets of Dalston - ethereal, magical
Street art in the back streets of Dalston – ethereal, magical
A catfish noodle salad box at Bánh Mì Hội-An, Hackney Central
A catfish noodle salad box at Bánh Mì Hội-An, Hackney Central – Passable, cheap, not really a salad!

Behind the counter at Bánh Mì Hội-An, Hackney Central
Behind the counter at Bánh Mì Hội-An, Hackney Central

Continue reading “Dark November Days – digging out from the doldrums?”

Suzy’s documentary – women in music, women in the world

Saturday, 17 November, 2018

This is a serious post! (I know!)

I’d never met my cousin Terry’s daughter, Suzy. We’ve chatted a few times on Facebook. I’ve seen she’s been in London (she lives in York) and also Toronto this year but she’s a quiet, private sort of person, and not really who you’d expect to be a musician – or a filmmaker for that matter. But she’s made a documentary film and it was showing as part of the Doc’n Roll Festival at the Genesis cinema.

So, which band is your boyfriend in? is a documentary exploring gender in the UK’s DIY and underground music scenes. That’s how it’s described. And after the documentary there’d be a Q&A with Suzy. I asked if she wanted to meet and, yes….and so we did. Suzy, her husband Simon, and me.

Waiting for the film to start
Waiting for the film to start

We had a nice chat, ate some awful Pieminster pie – mine was chicken and mushroom (mostly sauce and sliced mushroom). We talked about family and about how nervous she felt about the size of the audience and being interviewed afterwards. She described the film as ‘rough’ but fueled by her obsession with music. Obsessions are interesting but I’d call hers a passion. With her shy personality, it would have to be for her to get up on stage and perform – she plays trumpet, unusual for a female she said.

So the documentary. She’s interviewed maybe a dozen people who identify as female’ in music. Most are musicians, with a journalist, a sound engineer and a road manager in the mix. I think I have that right. The interviews are edited and spliced into segments, each telling the story of why and how these various women have chosen their craft and what it feels like to be non-male in a male-dominated industry.

A nervous, studious Suzy, with Simon, watching the film
A nervous, studious Suzy, with Simon, watching the film

I enjoyed it, some bits more than others. Surprisingly, it wasn’t just about prejudice and I was even more surprised to hear very little about harassment. I wondered if this was because the musicians didn’t talk about it or simply didn’t really experience it. Although Suzy mentioned it, the #metoo spectre wasn’t really present. If I can pin Suzy down, I’d like to ask her.

Another surprising, but not new, thing I noticed was how casual the women are. There’s no real dress up, as if they’ve arrived on the stage wearing whatever they usually wear or were wearing that day. Is this a generational thing, or is it more? Interesting since it takes away the sexual nature of the stage performer, often seen as the object of desire for audience members. So for this reason I would like to have known more about their attitudes and experiences around harassment.

Talking about my own experiences as a woman in this man’s world is something I reserve for all-female audiences or sympathetic mixed or male ones. I absolutely believe that women are seen as being less. Less valuable, less important, less powerful, less worthy of attention. And that, although we’ve come a long way, we have so much further to go. There are biological reasons for the prevailing attitudes . But it’s how those things are viewed and treated that make things so annoyingly difficult. It’s a case of women being told to fit into the male-oriented world and somehow not that we all need to fit together regardless of gender. We each have much to offer but we can’t do that if we’re seen to not fit the mould, and that mould is decidedly male.

Briefly about the #metoo movement. Me too! Way too many times. In the workplace, while dating, just by walking along, sitting in a room, by being. Most of us are products of our environment, and upbringing. In a rape prevention workshop, the leader told us that when he asked a room of women could they gouge a man’s eyeballs if he attacked, almost all of them said no. We’re taught to be ‘nice girls,’ desirable, sweet, and compliant. Saying no is not on the table. Sometimes saying yes or staying silent is really an unspoken no. How does this work? That’s the trick. But no is more than just what’s spoken, there’s body language, and other visual and physical clues that only a sensitive and caring person would pick up and act on. So, without talking specifically about my personal experiences – some horrific but many just disturbing – that’s how I feel. No debate.

So back to Suzy’s documentary. I enjoyed it a lot. These were strong people, passionate about what they were doing, honest and earnest in their interviews. Interesting people, some of whom I could happily sit and chat to for hours. Talented people. It didn’t feel rough – it felt real.

Q&A
Q&A – the confident Suzy, in her element (music!)

And her Q&A was good, nothing to have been scared about. She did amazingly well, sounded expert and confident, only becoming timid and worried after it was all over. She sounded and looked like family.

© Suzy Harrison

I thought that maybe we could do this precisely because we’re all unreasonable people and progress depends on our changing the world to fit us. Not the other way around. I want to believe that. I must believe that.

— Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace), Halt and Catch Fire, Season 1: FUD

Bethnal Green and a new mural

Friday, 16 November, 2018

I seem to be having loads of Torino hints in front of me. That’s so odd.

Chocolate in the kosher shop, Clapton
Chocolate in the kosher shop, Clapton
Great range of Lavazza coffee in Sainsbury's, Dalston
Great range of Lavazza coffee in Sainsbury’s, Dalston
On Bethnal Green Road
On Bethnal Green Road
Shrine, so Italian, on April Street, Hackney
Shrine, so Italian, on April Street, Hackney

If I were superstitious…

I had bloodwork on Thursday morning. Once upon a time they told us the old doctor’s office would be renovated or built over with a new office but this never happened. The offices are in such a drab old building and the interior isn’t all that much different, but there’s a lot of new technology. Maybe one day they’ll rebuild it. Meanwhile, the phlebotomist is the nice one, and not the mean one, so that’s a very good thing!

Somerford Grove General Practice
Somerford Grove General Practice

Opposite the doctors is an imposing 30s style buildingOpposite the doctors is an imposing 30s style building[/caption>

My plan after that was to go to a pop up bakery, check out a new mural I’d seen on Instagram, and then meet Krish for lunch.
Continue reading “Bethnal Green and a new mural”

Rediscovering London – reflections 2018

Sunday, 11 November, 2018

This morning it’s raining. It’s been raining since yesterday mid-afternoon. It’s not the relentlessly heavy Turin rain but it’s a lot for London, along with the sometimes fierce wind. By 3:30pm it looks like twilight and the mornings are dark enough that I light candles rather than turn on the lamps. It must be November!

London feels nothing like Turin. The light, the architecture, the feel of the streets, the earthy smell here. It feels more mellow in Hackney.

It's 3:30pm and the light is fading. I'm concerned for how much bark this tree has lost
It’s 3:30pm and the light is fading. I’m concerned for how much bark this tree has lost
During the day the light is soft and the air smells of Autumn
During the day the light is soft and the air smells of Autumn

On Wednesday we wanted to go out but it was another rainy day. So it was Thursday when I decided to take a trip to Kings Cross to check out some venues for a Christmas get together for some colleagues. Continue reading “Rediscovering London – reflections 2018”