Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A golden afternoon in east London

I hadn't really planned to write a blog post today and I apologise for the lack of photographs, but it was just one of those days that I wanted to capture in words so that I could remember it.

It's that time of year when a day can start out damp and drear and I mentally brace myself for the end of summer but then the sun manages to burn off the mist and by midday when I set out on my mission the sun was out and seemed to put everyone in a good mood.

Walking to the bus stop I exchanged smiling banter with the road sweeper and as I knitted away the bus journey my fellow passengers were in the mood for chat, particularly older people commenting about how lovely it was to see someone practicing the old skills.

Searching for my destination in the shadow of some rather dauntingly brutalist tower blocks on the Brownhills Estate I popped into a corner shop to ask my way with the owner taking the trouble to come out onto the street to show me. I was heading for the Community Cabin to take part in A Curious Line, an arts project which encourages members of the community to knit pieces which will be photographed and scanned onto tiles to decorate a pedestrian subway near a new school to make it feel an interesting place to walk through rather than the rather scary place that subways often are. When I arrived a busy group of young people from the local school and elders from a craft group were busy around a table covered in all kinds of materials to knit with. There was string, wire and fishing line along with the usual wool and needles.

Within minutes I was working with the school pupils, all teenage boys, teaching them to knit. They confounded any stereotypes and proved themselves to be keen and willing to learn and were soon producing some pretty good knitting. Once they were settled into their task I had a chance to talk to some of the older women who once again were having none of the stereotypes of what one should do in retirement. Feisty, opinionated, computer literate and prepared to try new things they regaled me with stories of staging a sit in on the 309 bus and annoying  the controller to the point that he called the police (who, I am delighted to report supported the passengers and insisted that the bus carry on to its destination), and spoke passionately to the school students about the importance of trade unions. They scoffed at the idea that they spend their afternoons playing bingo and dominos.

Walking home with my shopping I stopped and chatted to a lady I know from the bus stop who asked if I was still knitting and admired my shawl.

I know these small incidents may not seem remarkable by themselves but as I closed my front door it reminded me that although London can sometimes feel a cold, hard, impersonal place, it is possible to have a day when a bit of sunshine puts a spring in your step and the old city seems to smile back.


Rachel A said...

What a wonderful day, very inspiring and more evidence that London is one big community...I love this city!

RooKnits said...


Shirra said...

Really lovely. Days like that are some of the best