Thursday, 26 July 2012

cock a hoop

On the 6th June 2005 at lunchtime, I sat in a pub just off Oxford Street with my lovely friend (soon to be famous, voice of an angel Imogen Tonder - Google her) from work. Nothing unusual there you will cry. We had our usual lunch of Chardonnay and watched the scenes from Trafalgar Square on telly as they announced the host country of the 2012 Olympic Games. My heart dropped when they announced the winner was London. More importantly, Stratford, five minutes away from where we lived, Leyton.

You see, I didn't like being told I lived in a deprived area although I did. I also didn't like it that it would cost Londoners hundreds more in council tax and correctly guessed most of us wouldn't get to see the games we paid for. Also I wasn't all that interested and thought the money could be spent on more important things, like cake and gin. The boyfriend (he had not yet had the pleasure of marrying me) was happy as it meant our flat's value would go up. There was talk of prices in the area going through the roof. So we rubbed our hands with glee. House prices did go through the roof and then plummeted dangerously fast and smashed all over the cracked-potholed road and helped to cause the credit crunch. It was a nice road too. Our flat was a purpose built Victorian terrace and was very unusual but a native design of Leyton and Stratford. We did it up by ourselves and apart from the loud people upstairs we were happy there. It was opposite a beautiful red brick two storey Victorian school which my ancestors went to.

Fast forward to 2006. The mortgage was up for renewal and we decided to move. All the estate agents were excited saying "Olympics" alot so we thought we were cashing in and getting a great deal. Turns out if we'd have waited another year we would have got a ridiculous amount for our little home.

Everytime I went past the skeleton of the stadium going up on the way to work I'd get irrationally annoyed. Why were they building this here? Why are they knocking down local historical stadiums like the speedway and the Dogs? Albeit they were derelict and were waste grounds. Why were they bulldozing Eton Manor where my father played (probably with unexploded bombs) as a child? So we upped and left for (only) slightly better climbes further down the train track.  I still had to look at the stadium going up but was due to start maternity leave. Perhaps thats why I was irrational?
I've kind of blinkered myself to the games. Getting annoyed when I heard stories of local businesses that will struggle to stay open during the games.  How The Husband probably won't be home till at least 2am every night as the advice is to go to the pub instead of clogging up trains going to and from work.  etc etc...

Fast forward to 22nd July 2012 and we all go literally 3 minutes from our door across the park and stand right where the torch hand over will take place.

The pub opposite are playing London Calling by the Clash on repeat (this has a special resonance with me as the day after the awful 7/7 bombings - completely juxtaposed to the previous day in London - I danced really quite drunkenly to that song and everyone in the club had that stout-of-heart blitz spirit) and all of a sudden I come over all unnecessary. A bit teary. I sermonise to The Boy about how that flame had come all the way from Greece and millions of people have seen it and its right on our door step. I felt a strange sort of motherly pride in the young man who was carrying the flame.

A few days later a big airship flies over our house and I fight the urge to shout "the Germans are coming". And I stop and think - wow the whole world will be watching my part of London. My Stratford. My East End. My deprived wasteland. And wow what a wasteland it is now. The park looks gorgeous. The gardens look like an Eden and the waterways look like something out of a Wordsworth poem.

I have surprised myself and am so excited about watching the opening ceremony although I'm a little sad and surprised they didn't ask me to do a star turn. The Boy is really excited about seeing Chris Hoy, he was in the Chris Hoy1 class at school this year. I totally didn't see that hard athletes train and dedicate themselves to being the best they can be. I didn't know the motto of the modern Olympics was Faster Stronger Higher. What a great motto to live your life by. Its all very inspiring. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start show jumping or bowling but I will try to be the best I can be in everything I do.

Mostly I'm excited that the people that didn't cash in like us, that stuck it out in the dangerous desert that was Leyton High Road, can now reep the rewards that the legacy brings them. I hope they wont mind me coming to see what's happened in a few weeks.  Once I can get on a train that is!

Forgive me Seb and come on Great Britain.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A little local surjourn

I'm a homely type (note the making of quilts, blinds, cushions, cake etc) and am not too spontaneous but sometimes I like to throw caution to the wind and jump in puddles.

 We are very lucky to live three minutes walk to our local park which has won Green Flag awards for cleanliness. The Friends of the park do a really good job keeping the park tidy and safe and also putting on events including an excellent Halloween afternoon every year and carols round the teeny tiny Christmas Tree in the pitch black. The Girl and I spent a lovely half hour on the wet Wednesday this week splashing, jumping, bounding (do you bound? Try it. Please. People shy away from you but it makes you feel bubbly inside), leaping, and in The Girl's case, sitting in puddles.

The teenage skate bit of the park is a prime puddle location. We wouldn't dream of going anywhere near it when the teenagers are there. They have strange haircuts. Wear odd 1980s clothing - I saw a boy with a pair of pumps on that were exactly like the ones of my Smash Hits '88 record the other day.
I dreamt of having the shoes with the watch on. It was a good record. I digress...

The skate park allows the kids to loll about away from street corners and allows them to graffiti on there own bit of turf. I think the ramps get painted over regularly so that new "tags" can be added. I liked this space one a lot.
This one however I didn't like. What does it mean. Is it a yoof joke? I didn't like it mainly on the misuse of the apostrophe. I'm a stickler for correct signage. It is not a good tag...this next one though is possibly the best one ever...
The cad that has this as their tag is a genius.

Nature an' that. Its great aint it.

Keep out!


view from under the wood

In my first view I gave you a wonderful impression of my idyllic neighbourhood. I think you'll find I described the trees brimming with native English fruit with cast iron fences round them. I teased you with tales of how quiet the street is as there is never ever any traffic. I made you envious describing how every resident eats off the pavement as its so clean and while I was at it the street is also paved with gold....

Oh didn't I?

Sorry I was mistaken and forgot I had sent a daily mail rant to the council about the glass, litter, muck and dangerous pavements.

Well my moaning paid off as the pavement is being replaced as we speak (I started this post on Monday, I'm either lazy or busy)

I was a little put out though as they said they had saw no problem with litter from Tesco or that Tesco blocks up the pavement so I sent them these puppies.

and said I'll gladly send them photographic evidence every time it happens (everyday). I clearly need a job. The council weren't happy and are going to 'ave a go at them innit. When they will do this I don't know as the inspector said he'd call me and that was Tuesday. I suspect I'll call him and complain he hasn't called me!


The council's policy is to sweep side roads every 15 working days and main roads every 10. This is fine if you like stepping in dog poo as soon as you leave the house. After my complaint about the glass etc they sent a team of about four to sweep the road. I couldn't believe my eyes. But a few hours after the road got swept this week

Tesco go and litter again! So that's another two weeks before it gets swept or another few hours before it gets blown down the street.

It goes to show that a little bit of campaigning and complaining gets things done. Ok so I'm annoying myself with this shifting of the curtains type of whinging but nobody fell over on to the glass as I got it swept and the pavement has been made safe and hopefully Tesco will be forced to literally clean up their act. Well done Havering Council for listening.

Hopefully the view is going to get better. What's the going rate to give a house to a field?