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Don’t Do It Magazine

July 4, 2015
by the gentle author

Recently, it was my pleasure to do this interview with Stephanie Boland for DON’T DO IT

Stephanie Boland – This is your second authorship, isn’t it? The Gentle Author and Spitalfields Life?

Yes. I don’t talk much about my own past but I’ve been a writer all my life. My father died unexpectedly in 2001. I’m an only child and my mother had dementia and could no longer live on her own. The only thing she really knew was that she didn’t want to ever leave her home, and the only way that was going to be possible was if I gave up my career and moved in with her. I lived with her for about seven years and was her nurse until she died.

After that I came back to London and it was a time to start again. I wanted to use all the experience I had as a writer to find a new way of working – one that would connect me directly to the world. It wouldn’t mean just sitting in a room every day and writing. It would be going out and meeting people, and also being able to write things and publish them immediately, and have no intermediary, so I could have a very direct relationship with the readership.

I love the title of the blog – that it’s not a Spitalfields Record or Spitalfields History. It’s iterations of life and living.

Well, for me the word “Life” is as operative in the title as the word “Spitalfields”. When I was a carer, I could not leave the house. I had just two hours a week when I used to go out and mostly I spent that time running around, collecting prescriptions. After that whole experience was over, it became an extraordinary delight just to be able to walk down the street. Spitalfields Life grew out of that feeling and the sense that there are so many untold stories in the world. I find our current affairs media has spiralled down to a disappointingly narrow window of reality, so I set out to try and write the stories that no one else would write.

It’s a wonderful illustration of the importance of public life as well. Going outside and being in public space.

While I was caring for my mother, these remarkable women turned up. They were volunteers from the local doctor’s surgery. They were mostly senior women who had taken early retirement and spent all their time doing volunteer work. I could not have got through the whole thing without their support, yet I realised those women were invisible – publicly – even though our society couldn’t run without people like that.

There’s a school of thought that would say David Cameron runs the country but the truth is the country is run by millions of people doing all these things as volunteers most of which are not admitted or acknowledged.

I try to write about all aspects of society and all kinds of people and at the point you meet me now, I’ve done over two thousand stories — that’s one a day for nearly six years — and interviewed over 1,500 people.

There’s a responsibility. Most people I write about, it’s the first time anybody’s written about them. You have a duty to do them justice. And one of the phenomena – which I foolishly never anticipated – is that some people I have written about die. So then I republish my portrait as a tribute to them.

I’m fascinated by the idea of a blog as a distinctive literary form, as writing that’s happened in the moment and in a particular timeframe. And the passing of time, in a sense, is part of the subject.

It’s terrible when someone writes to you and tells you that this business that’s been going for one hundred years shut last week — and it’s too late. It scares me that an awful lot of stuff I’ve written about has vanished already.

That’s partly why I’ve do so many stories about old people. If someone writes and says, “My grandfather is one hundred and three years old and he was a fireman in the London Blitz and would you like to interview him?” you don’t think, “well, I’ll do it next year,” you do it now.

Recently, we did a picture story about the Holland Estate, a social housing estate that was handed over by the local authority to a housing association along with a lump sum to refurbish the buildings. And a few years down the line that housing association hasn’t done the refurbishment and is in partnership with a commercial developer, and they serve demolition notices on the eight hundred residents without any real consultation – because it’s now necessary to demolish it to create a new building of luxury flats, apparently. Next thing you know, the residents are told their flats are not fit for human habitation.

On the day before the residents took their petition to the council, to ask the local authority to support them, I went with Sarah Ainslie, one of the contributing photographers, into people’s flats and we did their portraits in their living rooms. They were very keen to show their flats were in good condition, and cherished — certainly fit for human habitation. I published the story on the day the residents presented their petition to the council and, thankfully, the councillors voted unanimously, cross party, to support them and hold the housing association to account. You get very excited about a project like that.

It’s just incredible – thinking back to the early twentieth century, where you have estates like Arnold Circus being built to provide social housing and a hundred years later, they’re trying to reverse that.

I find it alarming that in the East End there’s a venerable tradition of philanthropy and institutions created to lift up the lives of people here but this culture is now being trashed. A very good example is the Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital on the Hackney Road, which was created by two sisters who came here to nurse people during the cholera epidemic. It had sunflowers across the front to the original building because Oscar Wilde gave money to them. It was there for more than a century. Then it was taken to create Mettle & Poise, expensive flats to make profits for commercial developers. To me that’s a complete betrayal. They want to create Canary Wharf-style blocks full of luxury flats for the overseas market on the Bishopsgate Goodsyard while there’s 40,000 people on the housing list for Tower Hamlets and Hackney. It’s grim.

The thing I find hardest is seeing the place names of old buildings used to market the new development taking their place.

Yes, there was a nursing home called Mother Levy’s on the other side of Spitalfields run by a woman called Alice Model. She was a nurse who was very concerned about infant mortality levels in Spitalfields around 1900, when one in five didn’t reach it to adulthood. The idea was that mothers came and give birth at the hospital, then a nurse would visit the mother and baby regularly for the next six months to provide support and make sure the child survived. This building was demolished by a social housing association, by Peabody, working with a corporate developer to build mostly luxury flats. They destroyed the building and stuck a plaque on it saying,“This is where the building used to be where this woman did this remarkable thing.” That’s not really good enough, is it? The plaques tell you what was once there – it used to be a philanthropic hospital and now it’s a block of luxury flats.

In your National Portrait Gallery lecture about Horace Warner and the Spitalfields Nippers, you showed the photographs and told stories of the lives of the people in them. Do you feel a sense of identification with Warner?

There are certainly plenty of precedents for the work I do and I seek them out as examples to give me ideas. For example, I am very interested in sets of prints of the ‘Cries of London’ and I discovered Samuel Pepys was the first writer to start collecting them, but what fascinating to me was that Samuel Pepys didn’t just buy those that were being produced in his time, he also managed to get hold of ones that were a hundred years old, because he realised that they were social history.

Another writer who I think about is Henry Mayhew. He was the first to interview people in this country systematically and get them to describe their own lives in their own words. Obviously, the difference for me is that the person I’m writing about is going to read it. That makes for a particular kind of relationship in which they trust you and you have to respect that trust. I think a lot about Montaigne and his idea of Moral Comedy, that you try to present people but you never let yourself be wiser than the person you’re writing about.

What was it like, researching the lives of the Spitalfields Nippers?

I worked with a team of six people on those and they spent months on it. For a quite small amount of material, there was a massive amount of going through records. What happened was it became very personal and we felt we knew these people. When we found only a fragment of someone’s life and then we didn’t know what happened in the rest of their time, we all felt a sense of loss. And when new information turned up it was a great source of joy.

For example, there’s a photo of Adelaide Springett that Horace Warner captioned “Adelaide Springett in all her best clothes,” and she’s got no shoes on. We found out as much as we could about her life. We found out that her father died when she was a child and the last record we had of her was with her mother, living in a Salvation Army hostel in Hanbury Street in 1905, when she would’ve been about twelve. And that was it until we found she died in Fulham at the age of 86.

It was appalling to realise how many died young. Some of those children died months after those photos were taken, but what we also found was that the children that did survive were very tough. They lived to be really old. There’s one photo of two little girls that Horace Warner titled “Sisters Wakefield” and I think they’re nine and ten years old, sitting together on a doorstep. To me, it feels like they’re on the threshold of life and it gives the photo incredible poignancy to know that they lived to 86 and 96. They made it through.

What I like about Spitalfields Nippers as social history is that you can’t make any generalisations about them, there are as many outcomes as there were children.

It shows, as well, that life is always going to assert itself. You can’t confine things to history or simplify them.

I believe that profoundly. And in that sense, I’m an optimist – I believe in the resilience of people and of the human spirit. What history tells us is that you get these constantly recurring vast political structures which oppress people but it’s in the nature of humanity to overcome them and that’s what’s always happened.

My parents are from Irish immigrant families — this was the first time I’d seen a collection of photographs of people who look like my family.

The Irish are the lost wave of immigrants in Spitalfields because they left the least trace. If you walk around Spitalfields, you can see some of the houses where the wealthy Huguenots lived and you can go to the synagogue that’s still there in Sandys Row, and you can visit the Bengali curry houses. But there’s almost nothing to remind you of the Irish except for the sign-writing on Donovan’s paper bag shop in Crispin Street.

When James Joyce came here, he wrote to his brother and said, “music hall, not poetry, is the criticism of life”.

It brings us back to the culture of East End. There’s still this widespread myth that the East End of London is somehow the antithesis of culture. When Building Design did a feature about the proposed Bishopsgate Goods Yard towers, most of the comments were by architects and builders and developers and they were all saying, “Bring on this development! There’s never been anything else there, it’s just a rubbish heap, it’s a dung heap. Those people have never had anything good. The best thing that could happen is that it all gets flattened and we put up these towers”.

The sophistication of the innate culture here – not whether it’s here or not – but the quality of it is completely undervalued. That takes us to Music Hall. Marie Lloyd owned a pub on the corner of Hanbury Street and Wilkes Street. The lyrics of My Old Man Said Follow the Van, which she is particularly identified with, are about about the culture of ‘flitting.’ Looking at the stories of the Spitalfields Nippers, all those children moved around constantly, their families lived in rented rooms. When a job was lost or the rent couldn’t  be raised, they had to move. My Old Man is an observation of that social reality.

Speaking about the waves of immigration and just how visible it is…

It’s overwhelming here, because we’re sitting in a cemetery. When they rebuilt the Spitalfields Market, they removed tens of thousands of bodies. This was a Roman cemetery and Bishopsgate was once like the Via Appia in Rome – the cemetery outside the city walls. Spitalfields is built upon a cemetery, and then after the Fire of London they put all the rubble here. So really, you’re just walking on the bones of the dead and the rubble of old London. I don’t think there’s anywhere in London where you’re more aware of all the people that have gone before you than you are here.

How do you feel about the election?

It feels like the whole country has been hijacked. People need homes they can afford and shopkeepers need to be able to keep their shops and not pay rent that bleeds them dry. It’s up to government which has the power to regulate the situation in the interests of the populace. I don’t understand why nobody stood up and said, “If we get elected, we’ll stop corporate tax evasion, we’ll build social housing, and we’ll protect small businesses”. To me, those are fundamentals.

I’ve written about the residents of the New Era Estate in Hoxton and the single mothers evicted from the hostel in Newham. You’ve got a completely new breed of politician emerging there. These are young women with an extraordinary sense of moral force and authority. That’s where there’s hope now. Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said to Jasmine Stone of Focus E15 Mums, “If you can’t afford to live in Newham, then you can’t afford to live in Newham”. Yet the borough has four hundred empty council houses that they want to sell off to a developer. It’s not acceptable.

I don’t understand why people aren’t more angry and why politicians aren’t paying more attention to the groundswell of emotion that you sense in London now.

The majority of Londoners don’t want any of these terrible developments that are coming and the big questions are, “How is it happening against the wishes of the majority? And how can it be redressed? How can these two hundred and thirty tower proposed blocks – most of which are for the international luxury market – be stopped and how can we instead build social housing? How is this mess ever going to be untangled?”

It’s the same with the closure of public buildings.

Across the East End there were these wonderful libraries, opened at the end of the nineteenth century. John Passmore Edwards, the philanthropist, gave this money to open them and they’re all being shut now.

You find yourself doing conspiracy thinking. You go, “If my aim was to have nobody oppose me, the first thing I’d do is to shut down the libraries”.

It’s disempowerment of people and taking away the dignity of people. So in that sense we’ve come full circle and it has to be challenged, and I suppose that’s why I do what I do.

52 Responses leave one →
  1. Janet M permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Dear GA, What a lovely interview. I sometimes feel the hopelessness of opposing “progress”, that is not actually progress for the persons involved. But you fight the good fight, and sometimes win.

  2. jeannette permalink
    July 4, 2015

    nice to hear from you.
    in re libraries, immigrants, and how democracy is actually formed in public space, this 1998 piece by blaine harden about the busiest library in new york city — an immigrant neighborhood in queens — makes all the points. public space must remain unprivatized — it is where democracy has always been formed.

  3. jeannette permalink
    July 4, 2015

    ooops, forgot the url.

  4. Ben Toth (@bentoth) permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Thanks! – I try to make your work the first thing I read every day.

  5. July 4, 2015

    Very much enjoyed reading the interview – long may Spitalfields Life continue! Valerie

  6. July 4, 2015

    Stirring stuff, GA: it’s a cri de coeur, a manifesto, a call to arms. All power to your elbow.

  7. Viv permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Long may you continue to do what you do, I love it all!!

    It’s an absolute obscenity what’s happening to the UK. The great god dollar rules and the people are trodden on. People power wins the day. It’s just so difficult getting a lot of people to understand what the heck is going on and what they are going to lose if they don’t get together and stop the rape of the East End!!!

  8. July 4, 2015

    This is wonderful, thank you. I didn’t know the whole story of your taking care of your mother. There’s a special place in heaven for you, I think! No wonder you want to get out and be in the world.

    I lived on the Isle of Dogs for most of 2005 and half of 2006 caring for my mother when she was dying. But I didn’t live with her and I had the NHS to help!

    Now I’m living with and caring for my father, back home in California. He’s not dying, but he needs a lot of help. At first it was like that–only a couple of hours to get out. It’s much better now. And he’s not halfway around the world. Though if I could have picked any place to go live for a while, London would certainly have been it! Even in those circumstances, it was fantastic to get to know London, especially the East End, and to make many great friends.

    Keep up the great work.

  9. Milo Bell permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Excellent article about an excellent site.
    It is deeply despairing to think that all these buildings, all these lives, all this history can be dismantled so quickly and so irrevocably but there is a strong sense exuding from this interview that it isn’t inevitable and things CAN be stopped. Thank you Gentle author person for kicking up the fuss you do and bringing it to our attention.
    What you are doing is precious. Keep it up. (As if you needed any encouragement. One of these days i’m taking you for a pint or two in a hostelry of your choice….wether you like it or not!)

  10. Ulf Jacobsen permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Beautiful interview, thank you!

  11. Jean Jameson permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Wonderful – thank you for this. I enjoyed learning more about you and what motivates you. When you talk about the groundswell of anger in London, it makes me proud of Citizens UK and in particular, London Citizens, because they are harnessing that anger and campaigning for better social justice on so many of the issues you raise. Xxx

  12. Greg Tingey permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Let’s hear it for Mr Pussy!

  13. July 4, 2015

    Having met the G A. He is the epitome of a Gentleman
    S L is the first thing I read every morning.May it long continue.
    Bless you Gentle author.Kindest Regards, Terry Penton

  14. July 4, 2015

    I always enjoy the Gentle Author’s articles. This one prompts a response.

    A lovely piece and most thought-provoking. My distant ancestors came to Spitalfields, escaped to the sanctuary of Spitalfields, I should say. They came before the Irish. Who knows who came before them? How could the Huguenots know what wonderful stories, immigrant and other, would follow – and how immense to record some of them.

    I will follow you now, Stephanie. All power to you.

  15. July 4, 2015

    A most salient piece of writing. Well done, excellent – thank you.

  16. July 4, 2015

    Firstly Gentle Author you are doing a grand job of documenting the rapidly disappearing soul of London.
    The soul of London that is being sold to property developers.
    A londoner – all my life. We were priced out.
    A philanthropic start when Sir Terence Conran gave us a ‘shell’ at Shad Thames, opposite the Pont de la Tour to cut our teeth in retail. Then Bloomsbury. When our landlords could realise greater profits it was time to leave London for a brand new adventure. Sadly, the UK obsession with property and ‘house porn’ will follow us. An unforeseen consequence of all this is that youth will also be priced out of the city and London will be the poorer for it.
    The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,
    ‘Aint it all a crying shame’!

  17. July 4, 2015

    Yes yes yes, I’m with you all the way. (I love Mr Pussy as your stand in too).

    One of the reasons I enjoy your writing so much is because of that ‘narrow window of reality’ you mention. I love listening to interviews with people on Radio 4, and hearing about their lives, but then most of the time it is programmes about Westminster and viewing everything through this narrow lens of politics. I like the way Spitalfields Life redresses the balance.

  18. Carole Semaine permalink
    July 4, 2015

    So glad there’s someone who still cares about our area. We all feel so helpless at this wanton destruction born from corporate greed.

  19. July 4, 2015

    How good to have this role reversal to hear your voice and learn your story directly, Gentle Author. It helps bring home what a remarkable thing you have achieved and what you continue to work on. And the points about housing and the disenfranchisement of local people in the face of the march of tower blocks and luxury developments are so true. We have to keep fighting, however hopeless things seem. Thank you as ever for giving people a voice – and thank you Stephanie!

  20. July 4, 2015

    Spitalfields Life is a wonderful creative project. A clear, humane voice in the metropolis. I was really glad to read that the council are backing the Holland residents against the association’s plans. Housing Associations need to ensure they have reserves of capital but getting in bed with corporate developers and pushing people out of communities is not the answer.

  21. Bronchitikat permalink
    July 4, 2015

    I always read your blog, GA, and enjoy most of it – apart from the bits where Big Business wants to take over.

    “I don’t understand why nobody stood up and said, “If we get elected, we’ll stop corporate tax evasion, we’ll build social housing, and we’ll protect small businesses”. To me, those are fundamentals.”

    Trouble is that we’ve all been brainwashed by the idea that there is no ‘Community’, we are all individuals. We don’t have to care for other people, that costs money. And money and the amassing of it is THE point of life these days. Or so it seems.

    Of course, as your blog demonstrates, there are plenty of ‘decent’ people ‘out there’. Just that the accountants seem to be in power for now and they’re legislating to make the rich richer. But you already know that.

  22. Roj Lewis permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Thank you GA for this wonderful piece. It encapsulates everything I love about Spitalfields Life. It’s made me consider that it’s about time Gus Elen’s C19th song “If It Wasn’t for the Houses Inbetween” was updated. Music hall revivalist John Foreman, whom I refer to as the Bard of Kentish Town, has renewed some of the last lines of the choruses one of which I shall use to add my attempt: “If yer eye sight doesn’t fail yer, you could see right to Orstralia, if it wasn’t for the TOWER BLOCKS inbetween.” In the face of developers and privatisation it’s vital that we care about, share and look after our collective histories.

  23. July 4, 2015

    Really enjoyed reading about you and what motivates you to keep writing this blog. I love reading your pen portraits of people. Over the years, I feel I’ve got to know some of those who you’ve featured more than once.
    And yes, we have to fight the developers and the politicians who are in their pockets who want to turn London into a playground for the international rich.

  24. John Curno permalink
    July 4, 2015

    I love your Spitalfields Life diary and will try to visit the area with a map to follow my ancestors life in the area.

    Thank you for the Adelaide Springett comments. She was my Great Aunt and I’m about to start researching her life. I had no idea she existed until a phone call from my nephew Bradley caused me to look again at the family history. I have a couple of leads from family anecdotes which may help enlarge what we know of her. Will share results.

  25. Melanie permalink
    July 4, 2015

    You are a national treasure. They way you have managed to organize and archive an incredible collection of materials is truly outstanding. What I particularly enjoy is how, in nearly all of you articles, you thoroughly engage the reader; engaged intellectually and emotionally-a masterful employment of Aristotle’s Appeals! I live in New York State, and start each morning with your newsletter. I teach both British and American literature, and have encourage my students to use your site as a reference point when researching topics in British Lit. So thank you for that!

  26. July 4, 2015

    Yes, adding my voice to all the voices of support and thanks 🙂

  27. Susan permalink
    July 4, 2015

    ga, thank you for everything you do.

    Seriously. THANK YOU.

  28. isa permalink
    July 4, 2015

    Totally agree especially about how things are now! I almost think lots of people are vacant and allow all sorts of things to go on without standing up and being counted. As if people are sheep like and care only of them selves and are brain washed to do nothing. Conspiracy is not a dirty word thank goodness for those who do care like your good self and there are people who are awake into what is going on.

  29. Peter Holford permalink
    July 4, 2015

    I read this with great interest and I would like to thank you for the blogs you post. As you say much of this subject matter is ignored by the main stream media and needs to be brought into the light.

    Like you I despair of what is happening. The lies that the crash was caused by over-spending have been swallowed hook, line and sinker by most people. This government have managed to convince the electorate that the only solution is austerity. Unfortunately austerity is a system whereby the people who pay are those who did not create the crash and end up paying while the scoundrels who should have been held responsible continue to grab a greater share of the National Income. It’s not only immoral but in many instances criminal (Libor, PPI, Exchange Rate market fixing, etc.)

    It is amazing that there isn’t more anger but the Government is ably assisted by much of the press in spreading its propaganda. Unfortunately London is increasingly becoming a dysfunctional city that will fail to work. An article, ‘London, the city that ate itself’, in the Observer recently gives the analysis far better than I can do.

  30. July 4, 2015

    Just to say that I agree with all previous comments. Well done GA and keep up the good work, London and the whole country needs people like you.


  31. Judith Haxton permalink
    July 4, 2015

    I’ve always loved your blog Gentle Author but learning more about your kindness as a person will now enhance the experience. Thank you for sharing !!!

  32. viv davy permalink
    July 4, 2015

    I was really enthralled to read this interview. I love your whole body of work and the wonderful way you have brought all the magic layers of meaning out into the light digitally. I read your posts from New Zealand, my daughter lives in London and sometimes I am lucky to go and visit her. I have wandered around Spitalfields entranced but ignorant. I am a handweaver so it has added interest to me to read that part of the history in your work. Thank you for your work

  33. July 4, 2015

    Thanks for posting this, it has really struck a cord with me. It is the first time you have given an insight into your background and how you came to settle in Spitalfields but, more than this, it is the first time I have seen you express your views so forthrightly about what you see going on in the country, particularly with regard to the loss of libraries and social housing and the disregard the developers have for communities.

    You are the new Wolfie Smith echoing his cry of “power to the people” but this time in Spitalfields rather than Peckham, please keep it up.

    I’ve put a link below to a kindred spirit who is doing similar crusading work in Liverpool, campaigning against the loss of social housing and libraries and hardships the austerity cuts are bringing to local communities, please take a look.

  34. July 4, 2015

    Thank you GA for YOUR own personal interview…and also good to see Mr Pussy again!

  35. Sprite London permalink
    July 5, 2015

    fantastic post, one of the first time when i wish there was like buttons under comments as some of them deserve aknowledging…

    and will there ever be a post on the plight of leaseholders and increasing Service Charges with hardly sometimes none of the mainenance provided to the blocks! legitamised robbery!

  36. Kassie permalink
    July 5, 2015

    Thank you for this interview, and for our chance to read about you in the way you yourself write about others. I am in despair as the greedy class simply take over any spit of land they can wring profits from. The ethos of the 1% is being shoved down our throats. Thank you for standing up for the simple truths that are increasingly lost as Peak Capitalism gains in momentum. Please keep up the fight in this most eloquent blog that I’ve grown to love so much over the years. The perils come faster and faster now. Thank you in so many ways.

  37. July 5, 2015

    Whoops, it was Tooting not Peckham that Woolfie wanted to bring power to the people!

  38. Annie permalink
    July 5, 2015

    Brilliant piece. Like many of the commenters above, my day begins with a cup of coffee and Spitalfields Life. It always seems to provide a sane baseline, no matter what is coming my way. Re London and the luxury market. Property porn indeed. A most disgraceful way to frame the ethos of a great city. Many, many years ago (hoar antiquity…) I lived in London and had a very modest income. There was always somewhere cheap where you could perch. The city was full of people like me, coming in to find work and staying on, then moving out as opportunities presented themselves. Tops of old Victorian townhouses, basements…now impossible to rent because also impossible to buy. Thatcher’s Legacy indeed: there is no such thing as community and let’s all get on the property ladder.
    Keep going. We are all behind you, fists raised. Stroke the divine Mr P, please.

  39. July 5, 2015

    London needs your voice and I can only say “thank you” that you are moved to stand up and be counted.

  40. Lynn Roffee permalink
    July 5, 2015

    What a great interview and it is interesting to know more about you, though I have to say the lack of information about you gives it an added dimension – mystery and intrigue. I really enjoy reading the interesting topics your choose to write about – and you do write so very well. Thank you for taking the time to research and write about so many interesting people and long may you continue to do so.

  41. Nick permalink
    July 5, 2015

    Love the blog GA. Very much. Please keep the breath of fresh air, that your blog is, flowing. It’s London by proxy for those of us that love the place but can’t be there.

  42. anne gray permalink
    July 5, 2015

    400 empty council places in Newnham. and they are trying to sell some of them off to a developer!? Surely revolution will erupt now! If not. why not? Outrageous. …..the councils and M.P.s were elected. the council house stock that is left MUST be for the people who need it . Not for sale to the highest bidder. WAKE UP EVERYONE. REBEL NOW.

  43. david green permalink
    July 5, 2015

    Nice interview , thank you GA.

  44. July 5, 2015

    thank you for fighting for the soul of London… we need you here in Edinburgh which is rapidly going down the pan!

  45. July 6, 2015

    Really enjoyed this insightful interview – recording such a range of thought provoking and profound cause for thought. Thank you

  46. Debbie Tunstall permalink
    July 6, 2015

    Here here!


  47. annie s permalink
    July 6, 2015

    Thanks from me too, I have been reading your blog for a number of years now and attended your talk on the Spitalfield’s Nippers at the Portrait Gallery which was very interesting.
    Keep up the good and important work!

  48. July 6, 2015

    Thanks a lot for what you give to us (the readers). I loved reading about your motivation. It gives people hope, you know. Things do dissapear and we cannot turn back the clock. And it is all very sad. But thanks to people like you, something new is able to growe. You give people a voice, people who would otherwise never be heard. You do make this world a better place. Thank you for that.

  49. July 6, 2015

    Excellent interview – wishing you the very best for Spitalfields Life.


  50. July 7, 2015

    Really love reading all your stories and enjoy the photographs enormously too. Thank you!

  51. gary permalink
    July 7, 2015

    great blog

  52. Jacqueline Sarsby permalink
    July 15, 2015

    Bravo for this interview and for what you do, writing this fascinating and important blog every day.You say out loud what should be heard every day in the Houses of Parliament and in the Cabinet Office; I am really glad that you have so many supporters. But I am trying to connect this part of your life with what you wrote about your father, Exeter and Dartmoor, which I found the most affecting of all your blogs. Perhaps, little by little, the picture will come together.

    Jacquie Sarsby

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