Walk from Whitechapel to Leytonstone

I dropped off a screener of my documentary Make Your Own Damn Art and decided to take advantage of the spring evening and wander back home from Brick Lane to Leytonstone.

Fashion Street E1
Mile End Road

Although this is the first part of London I came to as a callow 18-year old  and have been drifting around the city ever since, tonight I discovered parts of East London I’d never seen before.

Bancroft Road – the birds were singing loud and proud
Jewish Cemetery Bancroft Road. It belonged to the synagogue in Maiden Lane Covent Garden and opened in 1811. It was badly bombed in WW2 
Meath Gardens E3 – formerly the private Victoria Park Cemetery est. 1842
Meath Gardens
Yuppie gulag rising on the banks of the Regent’s Canal – redevelopment often seems to shadow cemeteries and asylums
I read somewhere that the Regent’s Canal was named to curry Royal favour and get planning permission – little changes
St. Barnabas Church E3 – affiliated with the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement
Munching chips from Roman Road I asked two young women in hajibs the way to the Olympic Stadium – they directed me to this bridge over the A12. This must be the continuation of the old Roman Road to Essex.
Crown Close Bow, still hanging on in there
For some reason I had The The’s Heartland playing in my head as I walked this way
 Local artists make their feelings about the coming Olympics known 
Crossing the Lea at sunset

The War on Wanstead Flats

I was taking the kids for a walk over Wanstead Flats last Sunday to look at the remains of the anti-aircraft gun emplacement when we stumbled on this rusty old metal box poking through the grass.

The boys got excited thinking it was an arms stash – I’d just been telling them about the ‘stay-behind’ brigades which had excited their imaginations.

They were unimpressed by the concrete platform now overgrown with trees – I think they expected to find a rusty old canon. So I took them on to look at the barrage balloon posts again.

But my youngest got distracted by this tree that he thought could make a decent home if you ever needed to hide out in the park.

There’s a great article from the Wanstead Parklands Community Project about the wartime activity in the area.


The History Man

I read this passage from Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man (1975) this morning as the Overground trundled through the new Stratford taking shape for the Olympics.

Howard Kirk is stood at the top of a multistorey carpark above a shopping centre:
“He stares out, over the unwindowed parapet, at the topography of the town. … To one side he can see the blocks of luxury flats, complete but half-empty, with convenience kitchens and wall-to-wall carpeting and balconies pointed at the horizon; to the other side, on the hill, stand the towers of high-rise council flats, superficially similar, stacked, like a social workers’ hand-book, with separated wives, unmarried mothers, latchkey children. It is a topography of the mind; and his mind makes an intellectual contrast out of it, an image of conflict and opposition. He stares down on the town; the keys dangle; he populates chaos, orders disorder, senses strain and change.”


Scarp map

Met Nick Papadimitriou tonight to discuss the video we’re shooting to tie in with the publication of his epic deep topographic tome, Scarp (published by Hodder and Stoughton this June).

Scarp map

Nick drew this map in my notebook to indicate some of the places where we could film to capture the key elements of the North Middlesex Tertiary Escarpment (hope I’ve got that right).

Somehow going to make a video from these notes