Posts Tagged ‘Family’
Shortly after moving to east London this year the book A Hoxton Childhood by A.S Jasper came my way from my cousin. At the time of reading I had moved to the area where the book is set, an area where my paternal side of the family were born and raised. I blogged back in May how the words in the post script really touched me.
“Be thankful that you were born now and not then. Go forward, but try to be tolerant of your parents along the way”. A.S Jasper.
This Wednesday my aunt and I listened to A.S Jaspers nephew, Richard Penny, read that exact sentence at the books official reissue in the Broadway Bookshop, along with A.S Jaspers son Terry. A cousin brought this book into my life, two cousins have met after researching their family tree and republished this historical document.
Living in the area, and being lucky enough to wander the streets with my Dad and hear his stories has meant the world to me this year. I walk down Crondall Street and laugh at dad telling me about the “Crondall crumpets” (it seems the girls living on this road were once quite up for it). My dad could run street tours on his life in Hoxton.
Until I persuade him to do this A Hoxton Childhood is a real east end family tale, where people still find something to laugh about when all seems hopeless and doomed, that stood by one another. Christmas is lurking fellow book worms, buy a copy for your families and heed those words I quoted above.
Not many daughters are on the receiving end of a smug dad when they get robbed. My first weekend as an East London resident resulted in my iPhone being swiped as I dashed into a shop on Hoxton Street sober as a judge in broad daylight. My dad, born and bred in the area, has put up with years of people telling them how much Hoxton has changed but when my mum broke the news of this theft he jubilantly exclaimed. “Told you Hoxton hasn’t changed!”.
Out of the two old dears that nosed their way into my misfortune one comforted me and offered to pray to Saint Anthony while the other shouted at me for “being an idiot. you can’t take your eyes off anything for a second in Hoxton It’s crap!.” I suspect my Dad would have sided with her.
Last year I set myself a to-do list. Life happened and things didn’t pan out despite achieving it in parts. I have three Lido’s left to swim in London and I learnt how to ride a bike (albeit not brilliantly yet. I doubt I’d pass my cycling proficiency). This move sparks a mentality of getting back on track as living here was part of the plan.
We sat up on our roof terrace last night with a bottle of wine watching the sun go down and the water returning to glass after a day of long boats passing, plastic bags floating past like lyrics from a Suede song, Laburnum Boat Club plunging in and ragged looking ducks disturbing the canal. I felt the luckiest and calmest I’ve been in a long time despite the bad luck on the first weekend I arrived.
P.S I predict I fall in the canal by the time the year is up.
P.P.S My first week was soundtracked by Kindness, David Bowie, Daft Punk, Bat for Lashes, Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Haim. You can play my mixtape on YouTube here.
Our great (and evil) Aunt passed away recently, aged 97. She lived a spartan existence and there was no evidence of the memories we collect through our lifetime. No photo’s or letters. There was however a press clipping about Jimmy Doyle who would have been my grandad’s half-brother.
For a long time I’ve toyed with attempting to research my families chequered and colourful history. The paternal side of my family are from Hoxton. Back in the days when trousers not meeting your ankles was down to having to get clothes that didn’t fit from the missionaries because you were poor, and not because you’re a hipster. Finding out about Jimmy, former professional boxer, and local lad who kept the local boxing club during the war and kept score during the 1948 Olympics, has made me more curious to find out more.
The photo’s aren’t fantastic and the print has worn down but I have transcribed what we believe the full newspaper clipping says.
“The man who defied Hitler’s Luftwaffe to keep Hoxton’s Crown and Manor Boys’ Club open throughout the war years is dead. Former professional boxer, Jimmy Doyle, who devoted a lifetime to running the Wiltshire Row club, died recently aged 84. Past and present members of the club paid tribute to their former leader whose service spanned 29 years. As a youngster he boxed as an amateur with the Hoxton Manor Club and won two London Federation of Boys [illegible] 1922- 1924. The Hoxton Manor Club merged with the Crown Club in 1939 to form the present Crown and Manor Club. He became assistant leader of the Crown and Manor Club when it was formed in 1939 and two years later he became its manager. “He managed to keep the place open during the war despite it being bombed” said club spokesperson, Dave Munday. “After the war he continued as club manager, being appointed a boxing score: during the 1948 Olympics. He finally retired from club activities in 1959”.
If anyone has any experience or tips on tracing family history I’d love to hear from you.
“If he plays Thunder Road I’ll go home happy” was my first sentence about the anticipated set list. The fact that he opened with a stripped down, bare and fragile version of this track stopped me in my Wellington boots and kept my feet planted still on the soggy wood chips, holding my breath. Springsteen had already joined John Fogerty (“he uses Just for Men”, my mums opinion of the Creedence Clearwater Revival star) on stage for Rockin’ All Over The World. The set list continued to run like a dream and there were so many highlights. The River, Glory Days, Badlands, Dancing In The Dark. Impossible to pick out one particular moment.
It will go down as one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Springsteen creates something like a call to arms for all the downtrodden, the working classes, the people put upon that need raising up. He is also surrounded by the very best, musicians that have the same natural ability as he does for drama, theatre and occasion. Moments of hushed heartfelt emotion to rallying cries to stand up and be counted. Sounds over the top? No, not if you’ve seen him perform at the level he did on Saturday. Bruce (or Buff as I like to call him, as he still is) Springsteen is 63 and plays with more passion and energy than bands hungry for success. As my Dad said “In my lifetime and yours, you won’t see many Bruce Springsteen’s”.
In the past two years my brave and brilliant closest friend has lost both her parents, she said to me the night before that sharing something like this concert with mine would be something to truly cherish. It goes without saying she is utterly right, and whatever your shared connection with your family is (reading, music, theatre) create those amazing memories with them. Both in their sixties they sang, dance and drank with me. My mum in particular being very quick at her bar duties, she said “I don’t know what it is, I’ve just always been fast at getting served”. To which my Dad rolled his eyes and replied “Nothing to do with the fact she likes a drink”. For me, standing there with them screaming “I’m just tired and bored with myself”, laughing, smiling, toasting our warm wines. It was much about being side by side with them as it was about the man on the stage.
Of course much can be said about the council pulling the plug, there’s been a whole heap of people popping up on Twitter who believe the right decision was made and Springsteen should have stuck to his allocated time. Of course, they have a point, he had been playing for three and a half hours already. But, I doubt one of those people were one of the 80,000 people in Hyde Park and you have to be a pretty damned Scrooge to not feel swept up in the sense of community and occasion Springsteen had created Saturday evening, not to mention that Paul McCartney was playing at his side. Dave Rowlinson did make the very valid point that at least it stopped before we were subject to Hey Jude. Still, Bruce and The E Street Band left smiling as did every person penned into Hyde Park. A fitting reaction to the fun ruiners, they didn’t and could never of soured our night.
Bruce Springsteen played Thunder Road ▪ Badlands ▪ We Take Care Of Our Own ▪ Wrecking Ball ▪ Death To My Hometown ▪ My City Of Ruins ▪ Spirit In The Night ▪ The Promised Land ▪ Take ‘Em As They Come ▪ Jack Of All Trades ▪ Empty Sky ▪ Because The Night ▪ Johnny 99 ▪ Darlington County ▪ Working On The Highway ▪ Shackled And Drawn ▪ Waitin’ On A Sunny Day ▪ Raise Your Hand ▪ The River ▪ The Ghost Of Tom Joad ▪ The Rising ▪ Land Of Hope And Dreams ▪ We Are Alive ▪ Born In The U.S.A ▪ Born To Run ▪ Glory Days ▪ Dancing In The Dark ▪ I Saw Her Standing There ▪ Twist And Shout
I am temping at the moment, with some very lovely people who laugh and tell me how friendly I am every time I ask for more work. I’ve been here a week now and, quite frankly, I haven’t done much at all. Today however I was asked to minute the team meeting, the agenda was sent to me first thing and quite clearly stated “open with prayer”. Mild panic set in case it was I that was expected to launch into a free style prayer where I’d accidentally say “and thanks Lord for letting me temp in an office that doesn’t give me any work and has access to Twitter“.
The reveal here is that, once upon a time I went to a church school and attended mass every sunday with my *Dad. I can actually rattle off the Hail Mary still if push came to shove. Of course as a teenager I started to rebel against the Sunday ritual and eventually found the defiance and stubborn streak I needed to say “No more church Dad! I want to tape the top 40 and eat sardines on toast”.
My Dad trotted off to mass alone. On return I could hear him telling my Mum that he just couldn’t belive who was in church and it tapped into my curiosity (bear in mind at the time I lived in a small fishing town in Devon and not the sprawling pit of opportunities and celebrities that London is). Mick Hucknall that’s who. Apparently his Nan lived in our town and he was taking a break from the hectic promotion schedule around Stars. He got up and sang a beautiful rendition of All Things Bright And Beautiful.
Except of course he didn’t. This was my Dad making up what I now look back on as a quite beautiful, simple lie. It has the wow factor as well as being plausible. It’s one of those lies that’s OK for a parent to tell their kids in order to teach them a life lesson. In this case “If you don’t want to come to church anymore you’ll miss pop stars singing hymns”. ♥
*My mum is an atheist and on the occasions that she has been inside a church she has refused to kneel/stand when cued and steadfastly stated that if there was a God she’d have been burned for swearing in his house by now. I don’t disagree with her.