Skip to content

Sixth Annual Report

August 21, 2015
by the gentle author

Today – after more than two thousand posts published in these pages – we come to the end of the sixth year of Spitalfields Life. Perhaps the most unexpected moment of the last twelve months came one Sunday when I discovered myself sprinting down Folgate St exhorting people to spread out and hold hands. It was not random evangelism, but my hare-brained plan to invite people to join hands around Norton Folgate as a symbol of the widely-held desire to see the old buildings reused rather than demolished.

Two days later, Tower Hamlets Council rejected the application for redevelopment and now the Spitalfields Trust is devising an alternative scheme for Norton Folgate in collaboration with local businesses which, by seeking the minimum architectural intervention, can match the viability of the expensive and destructive British Land proposal.

The past year has also seen the publication of Spitalfields Nippers by Horace Warner and London Life by Colin O’Brien. Each of these books is a remarkable testimony of the culture of London by a distinguished photographer. Both have been critically acclaimed and proved to be very popular with the widest audience – yet neither of these would have seen the light of day, if not for the generous support of you – the readers of Spitalfields Life – who funded their publication.

It never ceases to astonish me to recognise what has come from the simple act of publishing a story every day. Six years ago, I never expected to produce books or get involved in campaigns to save old buildings in the East End, but I am hugely proud of our endeavours in both departments.

In spite of all this excitement, my essential task of undertaking interviews and writing stories remains at the core of my work. I love going out with the Contributing Photographers on assignments and we are never disappointed by the everyday wonders we encounter here in the East End.

Above all, I value the experience of meeting the people whose lives I have recorded in these pages. Listening to their stories is an ongoing education for me, offering inspiration and restoring a sense of proportion too.

On contemplation, I wonder if perhaps the act of retelling these stories for a wider audience is akin to running down the street and asking strangers to join hands? I consider myself privileged to do what I do because undertaking these interviews is such a source of joy to me – and it is this constantly-renewing sense of delight which keeps me going.

And thus, with all these thoughts in mind, I come to the end of this sixth year of Spitalfields Life.

I am your loyal servant

The Gentle Author


For the next week, while I am completing my book about THE CRIES OF LONDON, I shall be publishing favourite posts from the past year and then resuming with new stories on Monday 31st August

You may like to read my earlier Annual Reports

First Annual Report 2010

Second Annual Report 2011

Third Annual Report 2012

Fourth Annual Report 2013

Fifth Annual Report 2014

47 Responses leave one →
  1. King of the Bottletops permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulations and thanks for the six years dawned with excitement and Mr. Pussy, what a cat!

  2. August 21, 2015

    Indeed, a year of outstanding achievements. You–and other East Enders– have much to be proud of in recording and preserving your unique history. Here on the other side of the pond, your storytelling touches me every day. I can’t wait to get back to London to explore some of the treasured places you’ve shared.

  3. August 21, 2015

    Hugs to you and Mr. P

  4. Glenn permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulations on 6 wonderful years. Your writing is enjoyed by many.

  5. August 21, 2015

    You have moved milestones with your blog and your endeavours to make people aware that they need to do something to stop the destruction that British Land, Boris Johnson etc are planning. Well done on a prolific and successful year, Valerie

  6. Eastendbutcher permalink
    August 21, 2015

    I am up early every morning on my journey to Smithfield Market. My routine is simple. Out at 4am and back indoors around 6am. Coffee and then a sit down to read the wonderful Spitalfieldslife blog. It has become a way of life since I met The Gentle Author early this year. So a big thank you from me not just for the great article that you did on me, but for enriching my world with fabulous stories from my part of London. Long may it continue…

  7. Annie permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulations on another remarkable year – of campaigns, of publications and sharing stories of lives.

  8. August 21, 2015

    In the midst of my jobless despair you have provided a welcome early morning distraction into another world. Thank you x

  9. August 21, 2015

    Fabulous story today and congratulations for six years of endeavor leading to such outstanding results. I feel blessed to share the inside stories of local life in this special part of London.

  10. August 21, 2015

    Congratulations and thank you.
    Your commitment is a source of great joy xxx

  11. Enid and Mr. Enid permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Thank you, dear GA.

    Spitalfields Life is the first thing both of us read every morning. Its humanity, generosity of spirit, interest, sensitivity, humour, bravery and truth-speaking inspire and fortify us for another day in a world in which it seems, sometimes, that such qualities are increasingly rare.

    Many, many congratulations on sustaining for six years a body of work of such quality and importance, and that has enabled so much that is positive.

    With love to both you and Mr. P.

    Enid x

  12. Jaki permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulations and thank you! :) xx

  13. Marco permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulations Gentle Author for yet another year of always interesting stories and photos!
    I am not from London but I follow your blog every day, and I have even recommended to some Londoners and specifically East Enders who did not know it :-)

  14. Annie G permalink
    August 21, 2015

    You just keep on writing, GA. You are the first thing I read each morning and have been for a few years now. Never fail to inspire.

  15. Jocelyn permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulations GA! Your Spitafieldslife is a comforting and familiar read to appreciate early every morning, keeping me in touch with my beloved neighbourhood, thank you for the journey!!!

  16. Jill permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Happy Birthday to the best blog! Hope you’ll find time for cake to celebrate another milestone.

  17. Denise permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Gentle Author

    You are the Spitalfields Samuel Pepys but more important as you chronicle the deep history and the proud people of an ancient place in all of its changes .

    You write of the significant and continuing contributions of the working / thinking classes .
    And thus , you have made a difference .

    ‘ One’s life has value so long as it attributes value to the lives of others ,
    by means of love , friendship , and compassion .’ de Beauvoir

    You are a Warrior , Gentle Author .

    So , a resounding and continuing volley of Cheers to you …

  18. Laserwill permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Dearest Gentle Author, I have the deepest respect for all you have achieved, congratulations. Mr Pussy has every right look so content.

  19. August 21, 2015

    Yours has been a unique and wonderful project and what an achievement to have saved Norton Folgate.

  20. August 21, 2015

    Congratulations on another year of wonderful stories and great achievements. Spitalfields Life truly has become a part of my life.

  21. August 21, 2015

    Congratulations, thanks, and here’s to many more years!

  22. Nancy permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Mazel tov, and thank you for your delightful, inspiring work. You’ve given much pleasure to your readers and accomplished so much for inhabitants of the East End. I have been moved by so many of your subjects, none of whom I would know but for your stories. (I live in NYC.) Long may you write! And long may you have the companionship of Mr. P!

  23. Annette McCann permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulations on a wonderful body of work these last six years, and thank you for all you do.
    Best wishes and regards to all.

  24. August 21, 2015

    Congratulations GA on your milestone and thank you for all your daily blogs which never cease to cheer, inform, educate and inspire your readers.
    Also thanks for all your work to save Norton Folgate….here’s to its continued future and the future posts of Spitalfields Life…
    With kindest regards to you and the wonderful Mr Pussy!

  25. August 21, 2015

    A magnificent achievement but you have to admit that with all the fantastic ingredients you come up with, your recipe for the success of this project could not fail.

    A visit to this site every morning is now a solid part of my daily programme.
    Well Done !!

    ,Give this one a Ceeeeeeegar” !!!

  26. annie s permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Happy 6th Birthday!
    Thank you GA for bringing to our attention all the interesting stories of so many things in the Spitalfields area and beyond.
    Here’s to many more.

  27. Ray Golland permalink
    August 21, 2015

    What an extraordinary achievement. I have been reading your daily blog for over a year now and it remains one of the sweetest moment of each day, Thank you for sharing the stories of all those remarkable people and places you celebrate.

    My wife and I grew up in Dalston and whilst we now live in Kent, we return to London repeatedly. In a few weeks are leading a London walk for our local Ramblers group, and your recent article on Old St Pancras Church will create a memorable and exceptionally well informed stop along our way.

    Long may it continue

  28. Sandy permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Brilliant achievement – Norton Folgate and the books and the daily stories – I’ve learnt a lot about an area that means a lot me personally as well.
    Please write a piece to tell us about the wonderful patchwork textile that your cat sits upon!
    Keep up the great work

  29. Heather Fenton permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Hi Gentle Author!
    I have probably only ever passed through Spitalfields once or twice (although the Church Army couple who founded the work at Spitalfields Crypt were friends of mine) as I live in North Wales. However I look forward to and enjoy reading your material every day, and will be visiting Spitalfields when I come to London next year. Keep it up- it is a fascinating account of an really important area of our capital. I am particularly impressed by the work you have done in helping to keep the old buildings being obliterated as the building seem key to the continuing of these old and fascinating communities. So well done and very best wishes!
    Rev Heather

  30. August 21, 2015

    Congratulations to you and your photographers.

    I may live in Canada but I’ve visited few times the East End streets you speak of and your blog makes me feel I am one with that community.

    Thank you! (and please tell us a story about that lovely needlepoint ‘quilt’ Mr. P is relaxing upon!)

    best wishes from Toronto

  31. Jane permalink
    August 21, 2015

    In the most literal and real sense imaginable
    ‘London Pride has been handed down to us’
    - over six fascinating years…
    a wave and embrace to our own GA

  32. Amanda permalink
    August 21, 2015

    ….. and your posts are a source of joy to me.

    Amanda

  33. Nick Barker permalink
    August 21, 2015

    You have put together an extraordinary and fascinating blog that I am sure gives pleasure to people from all over the world – honestly I don’t know how you do it but thank you

  34. terry permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Congratulation……..you are always a joy to read
    Enjoy your week away
    from an avid NYC follower

  35. Sharon Carr permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Well done. Please keep up with your worthy endeavours, O Gentle Author. Your observations are much appreciated. Thank you

  36. Debra Matheney permalink
    August 21, 2015

    I love reading about the community efforts in favor of saving the East End. The nooks and crannies saved from over development help maintain the rich and lively heritage of London from greed and its evils. Your stories make my day, each and every day, that I read them. Thank you so much!
    PS I was able to find the lovely pitcher on Ebay and it graces my California living room.

  37. Jonathan Rickard permalink
    August 21, 2015

    Thank you for the years I’ve received your daily blog‚ important to me as I can no longer travel across the sea and I miss London. I had arranged for Jacqui Pearce of the Museum of London to travel to America to participate in a ceramics history conference I organize each year but then illness caused her to regretfully cancel. I’ve seen her name in your writings so, for now, that will have to do. Cheers!

  38. gmb permalink
    August 22, 2015

    I always end my evenings with a visit to your blog. Thank you for this blog. When I visited London last year Spitalfields was on the top of my list of places to see, and I did….repeatedly. Can’t wait to return. Have a lovely holiday.

  39. Jenny permalink
    August 22, 2015

    Congratulations! And thank you. I look forward to reading your blog every day.

  40. August 22, 2015

    Your blog is a great project. Eclectic, contemporary and historical: urban yet finding delight in nature; celebrating traditional crafts yet supportive of the modern artists who live in the area; humane, kind and respectful yet occasionally weird and wonderful, suggesting an intriguing and unconventional personality. Spitalfields Life is an important social document which will be an important source for future historians.
    Long may it continue.

  41. Viv permalink
    August 22, 2015

    There you are my dear, the power of one!!!!! You have indeed achieved a great deal. Please don’t stop!!

    Kindest regards,
    Vivienne from Oz

  42. Daron permalink
    August 22, 2015

    From a neighbour, in appreciation of your daily literary works, thank you.

  43. Helen George permalink
    August 22, 2015

    Thank you – have been reading your blog for about 5 of those years and have enjoyed them so much along with the wonderful talk you gave at the Bishopsgate Institute on the Spittalfields Nippers. I’ve recommended the blog to many others – keep up the good work, it’s much appreciated.

  44. Milo Bell permalink
    August 22, 2015

    Congratulations. Essential reading. Especially for us poor sods who, for whatever reason, are currently unable to partake of London life.
    Your blog is the next best thing. Truly.

  45. August 22, 2015

    Warm congratulations. Even a yank like me over in the east bay of the San Francisco area finds great joy in reading your posts, vignettes, profiles and stories. I even find myself thinking how interesting it might be to live there one day. Hope you continue for many more years.

  46. August 23, 2015

    Congratulations and keep on writing such exciting articles!

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  47. anon permalink
    August 25, 2015

    I’ve been reading this since the beginning, and I really appreciate the way you write about ordinary local people round here in a positive and realistic way, and care about what matters to them. There’s a lot written about the rich, the famous and the notorious; what you do is far more important and interesting, and I wish there were more like you. Thank you. Do carry on.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS