No more giant badgers. Shame, really.

A_badger_not_the_giant_one_from_Folkestone_School_for _GirlsMy daughter is unlikely  to be attacked by a giant badger.

This makes me sad.

I am sad that, of course, there is no such thing as a giant badger. Such a disappointment. The innocent creature pictured featured in the Daily Telegraph, one of the news outlets that ran a story that a giant badger was terrorising the girls at her school. It claimed there were ‘hundreds of screaming, hysterical girls … too scared to walk across the school grounds’.

While I wasn’t too pleased about her language, I was delighted that her reaction was ‘WTF?’ She had seen no such thing: none of her friends had even heard of the GB until she posted a link on Facebook.

It is a pity that she is unlikely to experience being ‘charged at and then sniffed by’ the beast, reported elsewhere in a story that arose from one single unsubstantiated anonymous source. Those journalistic standards in a story about my old school in the town where I started work as a reporter also make me sad.

My main cause for sadness, though, is un-badger-related. My daughter will start a new school for sixth form in September. There’s a concrete playground but no fields for badgers of any size here.

What it does have, I found out yesterday, is a police escort at home time. This is because of a ‘fear of crime and violence in London’s East End’.

It makes me sad that I’ve often had to call the police where we live. I couldn’t bear to list the dozens of times and severity of incidents.

I’ve worked for the Metropolitan Police Service and the Home Office. I don’t call 999 lightly. The number of occasions on which they don’t turn up far outnumber those that they do.

If the police think home time is in need of this level of attention, there are worse things than giant badgers out there. And that makes me very sad indeed.

(‘Shame, really’ was the response to most things by Nanny in Nancy Mitford’s ‘The Blessing’. Today I am mos’ly channelling her. Nanny, not Nancy.  That definitely makes me sad.)





A walk to Dog-Eared Corner

The triumph of common sense from Sptialfeilds LifeMy usual walk to work is along the Triumph of Common Sense, to Stepney City Farm, opposite Dog-Eared Corner.

I’ve gone for one of this week’s optional themes from the Weekly Blog Club: a walk. With 20 minutes to this week’s posting cut-off, I was about to send my regular tweet begging for one of WBC’s popular Squidgy Deadlines. But today I’m slaying the procrastination demon.

Down the seventy stairs from the fourth floor. This usually entails an urban form of ‘It’s a Knockout’. Will I get past the mattress blocking the stairs below? Have I forgotten the major leak outside Flat 31 or will I end up on my backside again? What else is there on the iSpy checklist of a Stepney staircase: vomit, urine, phlegm (tick), cigarette butts (two), discarded Monster Munch (lots), tissues, bits of straw (down to me and mine usually).

Out the door, inhaling Eau de Rough Sleeper. Onto the street past one of the last Jewish bakeries in the East End, resisting awesome salmon bagels or tiny Danish pastries endorsed by Nigella herself.

Cross the street where Stalin lived when he was in London. Architect-enhanced wealth mingles with overcrowded immigration, literally next door to each other. Look out for urban foxes filling up on the chicken bones that litter every street of the borough with the highest concentration of fast food and serious child obesity. No longer take a minute to wonder if the two are related.

Past the care home that specialises in dementia and suffer usual guilt about my dad. slowly going under in that vile fog. Catch a glimpse of the raised bed that my work has helped put in there to envliven sight and scent for residents.

Swap a grin with a young father, pushing his baby along at Mo Farah speed while her big sister runs, school bag, bashing against her chubby legs, as the primary school reaches register time.

Debate a walk through the park, with its groups of boys in uniform swapping spliffs and gobbing. No, too many mobile thefts recently and I’m limping with a sore Achilles tendon. Being mugged five times does tend to lean one towards a pessimistic outlook. And the last instance of being groped by about eight of them inspired police to say that I should consider covering up my long blonde hair as it made me look ‘obvious’.

That rules out the Triumph of Good Sense, as depicted by the Gentle Author amidst other East End Desire Paths.

So I pass the Crossrail workings, walk along the side of Stepney City Farm with the walls from an old Baptist college and past St Dunstan’s Church and ‘the bells of Step-nee’ from the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons.

And look, just look, at what is underneath my feet now.

The picture of the Triumph of Good Sense is from Spitalfields Life by the Gentle Author

A love letter

Point_Break_movie_posterI always wanted to be a surfer. When I was 14, I hung out with some real surfer boys down at the beach in Folkestone.  Some days the waves could be fully a few inches high as they crashed to shore.

And I have to confess that Point Break is one of my favourite films. This is because of my misguided belief that it shows a lovely lifestyle: taking away all the robbing of banks, of course.

Nothing to do with Keanu Reeves: honestly. Although my daughter’s father was approached by some girls in Tampa Bay who mistook him for the great wooden actor. But that was a century ago.

This love letter isn’t to Keanu or to surfing. It’s to Twitter (bear with me.) It still amazes me that many of my family, close friends, acquaintances, people I look up to etc think it is pointless and would somehow lower them to join. I won’t list their objections as, in the words of the great Molesworth, “I diskard them’.

If it wasn’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have found Weekly Blog Club, which I came across via my work on an archaeological dig. I love these weird links. Its deadlines (ha!) and the support I’ve found help my writing enormously,

In the last 24 hours, wonderful things have happened on Twitter, I’ve used it for work, where I spotted and claimed some free collection tins to use on Stepney City Farm’s donkey walks.

That got me into conversation with the wonderful Childsi Foundation, a truly inspiring charity helping abandoned children in Uganda, and the terrific Kirsty Marrins, who’s always got fascinating social media info to share and is now signed up for ferret-walking. Not to mention an offer of support and a free Coffee Guide from Klaudia at Allegra Strategies: donor of donation tins.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the  new campaign to combat food waste that was launched at the farm this week: The Pig Idea. If you’ve read this far and you haven’t heard of it, please check it out. A Twitter exchange led to thoughts of a children’s play about this in liaison with the Half Moon Young People’s Theatre.

There’s been much more but enough about work. Today is a writing day so I naturally headed straight to Twitter.

It was playing about there this morning during important brainstorming and blue sky thinking (aka arsing about) that has inspired my tribute.

I had an Alice in Wonderland moment of surrealness as a comment I made was favourited by self-styled gay immigrant @carrozo , whose account of yesterday’s smash and grab raid at Selfridges is today’s Daily Mail lead story.

I always look forward to entertaining and informative food writing and curation by Sarah Emily Duff.  Today she showcased some superb food pseudery about onions, which led to an exchange of appalling puns between us and a surfer in South Africa. As it does.

All my unrequited longing for surfing hit me and took me right back to how it felt to be 14. It may well  have filled a gap in the neverending rack of pain that is my novel writing. So thank you, Steve Kretzman.

And if you want to swap surfing in SA for writing in Whitechapel, you know who to ask.