The neighbourhood hasn't been the same since Havanas closed for reburbishment all those months ago. Back in the old days, the area around the Pond had three places where a weary resident with old-fashioned tastes could order bacon, egg and chips and wash it down with a cup of workers' tea. Then, suddenly, there were none.
There's a long story to be told about the former tramway depot at 38-40 Upper Clapton Road, just beyond the roundabout. The short version is that the Hackney Societyhas tried to save it from redevelopment, others have expressed concerns, ownership has changed hands and we'll have to wait and see exactly what happens next. What is certain is that the varied group of artists and small businesses that once occupied the Victorian sheds has had to scatter, leaving Tilley Harris and Alex Pielak to honour and display their work.
Roy Paine is the hero of my self-published e-novel Roy's Summer of Sport, written under the pen name Ed Villah. Roy lives in the villagey fringes of Croydon, far from the very different London of Hackney and the Lower Clapton Road. But he has a ticket for the Olympics - women's hockey, 8th August, 2012 - and heads for Stratford using public transport. He gets a number 38 from Victoria, one that goes all the way to Clapton Pond. He's never been there before. Never even heard of the place. It sounds nice - kind of rural. Roy has time on his hands so he stays on the bus instead of getting off at Hackney Central, eager to gratify his curiosity...
The bus reached its final stop. Roy tumbled out into the heat and began walking back the way he’d come. The smell of fish and chips beckoned him from an open door. Roy looked in. Battered cod fillets sizzled in serried display. Roy succumbed. A man in a red polo shirt, sweltering skin, capable hands, raised his chin at him and said, “Next please.”
Back in November I wrote about the plethora of people you see on the streets these days pointing cameras at neighbourhood goings-on. The example I photographed - perhaps I'm one of those people myself - showed a young woman filming the creation of this mural in Clapton Passage on the side of Danny's. I didn't go close enough at the time to see what the man up the ladder was doing, and I only noticed the result quite recently. I had, though, already noticed and photographed two other creations by the same artist in the same style. One is a (still unfinished?) effort also in Clapton Passage on a builder's fence there, the other can be found on a wall in Linscott Road. See them here and here. To learn more about the artist and the young woman filming him that day in November, see the comment here and this website. Give it space.
It's not altogether new, having appeared on top of the previous, deeply cosmic, mural several weeks ago. Looks like the work of the same artist (or artists). I slighty preferred the original but like the idea of a new piece of work showing up in the same space every few months - like in a gallery, come to think of it.
This year's Clapton Festival was drier than its predecessor, though still a bit unsettled. Maybe the wind interference on the clip below should be taken as a sign of the neighbourhood's rough-and-ready authenticity. You decide. Either way, I hope you enjoy this footage of Walking Wounded live at Palm 2 on Saturday.
Also on Saturday's bill was a local teenage band called Crash Magnets. I may yet be able to bring you a clip of them as well. The neccessary permission is being negotiated, partly in my kitchen.
It took me less than a minute yesterday to decide against defying the grey clouds and drizzle and heading down to the Thames for the main Diamond Jubilee event, but I'm glad I ventured out for quick look at the Newick Road street party. Food, drink, a live band and plenty of staying power in evidence.
Among the many neglected lessons of history is that Christmas traditions change all the time. I grew up with the one that involves families gathered cheerfully around enormous meals and blazing hearths. It goes back to the days of Charles Dickens, yet if you read his 1836 sketch A Christmas Dinnner (written under his pen name of Boz) many traditional Christmassy things are either mentioned only in passing or completely absent. The sketch pre-dates the popularity of Christmas cards, crackers and trees, while in those days seasonal gifts were usually exchanged on New Year's Day. Father Christmas in his modern form wasn't invented until 1931. He's a transatlantic import, by the way.