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Eleventh Annual Report

August 17, 2020
by the gentle author

‘It feels audacious to speak of hope in these times, yet I believe we share an obligation to do so.’


In such a year as this, when so many have died, I count myself fortunate to have survived the virus and recovered to be here today writing my eleventh annual report. It will be a long time before any of us understand fully what has happened. At this moment, while we continue to struggle in the midst of a crisis without resolution, I am resolved to live quietly, striving to maintain sufficient equilibrium to face whatever may come next.

Never before I have I received so many messages of gratitude from readers for my daily stories as this year. They hearten my resolve by reminding me of the value of storytelling and celebrating the sacred nature of everyday life. It means that, in spite of the disruption that has befallen us, I have always known what to do. I am grateful that my daily task of preparing a story for publication has sustained me through the difficult days.

Perhaps the most significant achievement of this year was in May when we managed to raise several thousand pounds for the Solidarity Britannia Food Bank, supporting those with no recourse to public funds. This happened thanks to an article written by Delwar Hussain with photographs by Sarah Ainslie, published while I was recovering from the virus.

This year, I had so many plans for holding events, running courses and publishing books, all of which have been postponed. The collapse of Bertrams, Britain’s largest book wholesaler, leaving massive debts was a significant blow to all publishers in this country including Spitalfields Life Books. In spite of this I have been working with photographer David Hoffman, developing a book of his inspirational and humane pictures from the seventies, exploring the housing crisis, racism and the rise of protest in the East End in ways that have a startling immediacy for us today. I hope to share David’s work with you by publishing his book next year.

Although we await the fight to save the Bethnal Green Mulberry at a Judicial Review in the High Court, we were heartened that – thanks in no small part to letters written by you the readers – we were able to persuade the Secretary of State to call a Public Inquiry into the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The Inquiry will be held under socially distanced conditions beginning 6th October at Tower Hamlets Town Hall. I will supply further information in September.

During the lockdown I was forced to recognise the virtue in doing less and thinking more. The outcome of this extended contemplation has been the hatching of new plans and projects for the future which I will reveal to you over the months to come. Surviving the unthinkable has given me the courage to look forward. It feels audacious to speak of hope in these times, yet I believe that we share a human obligation to do so.

Thus, with these thoughts in mind, ends the eleventh year in the pages of Spitalfields Life.

I am your loyal servant

The Gentle Author

Spitalfields, 17th August 2020


I am taking my annual holiday now and will resume with new stories on September 7th

Schrodinger takes a nap

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

Sixth Annual Report 2015

Seventh Annual Report 2016

Eight Annual Report 2017

Ninth Annual Report 2018

Tenth Annual Report 2019

19 Responses leave one →
  1. George Cumming permalink
    August 19, 2020

    I am very glad to have you back. The interrupt was disturbing. I was afraid that you were gone for good. I follow this website every day even though I have never visited London. It is one of my day’s small pleasures. Thank you.

  2. August 19, 2020




  3. Susan permalink
    August 19, 2020

    Thank you for the daily stories and lovely photos. They provide a sense of connection that is so necessary now. Maintaining hope for the future is so important in dark times like these. For one, I hope to be able to visit London once again, and your posts are a daily reminder of the wonderful places and people there.

  4. Saba permalink
    August 19, 2020

    Hello GA and Gentle Readers, I will echo the response that the two-day shutdown was scary because I value this site so much. Yesterday, I could not get in and a message came up saying, “you are forbidden to open this site!” I was afraid also that some harm had come to the GA. So, I am so glad the site is back and totally understand whatever happened to shut it down for two days.

    GA, have a wonderful and well-deserved holiday. As the old song says, see you in September!

  5. Jill Wilson permalink
    August 19, 2020

    Pheeeew! Great to see the website is back up and running. I’m always impressed with how well it usually works, even for a non techie like me!

    Thank you for all your hard work, and especially for managing to keep the blog going during the pandemic. It really helps to put things into perspective, and reminds us that there is so much more to life than what we read and hear in the mainstream media.

    Have a great break, and I look forward to reading many more interesting and inspiring stories – and enjoying the excellent photos and illustrations too of course. xxx

  6. Anne permalink
    August 19, 2020

    Ich bin so froh, dass es nur eine kurze Störung war und kein Ende Ihres Blogs.
    Vielen Dank für die wunderbaren so menschlichen Geschichten, die schönen Bilder und die Liebe zum Alltäglichen. Bleiben Sie gesund und erholen Sie sich gut.
    eine treue Leserin aus Deutschland

  7. August 19, 2020

    What a year you have had, Gentle Author. I hope your next year is eventful but with less loss and uncertainty and that we all see the back of this virus.

    I am reminded of this poem:

  8. Pauline Taylor permalink
    August 19, 2020

    Herrzlichen vielen dank Anne it was a lovely surprise to see a message in German !!

    Thank you GA as well, enjoy your holiday and keep planning for the future it is so important during dark days not to give up hope. I too was very anxious when Spitalfields Life disappeared and I am extremely pleased to see you back, I would miss you so much. I love the photo of Schrodinger he looks so content in his new home.

    Alles Gute Anne.

  9. August 19, 2020

    Dear Gentle Author,
    You have been an inspiration to us all during these difficult and uncertain times.
    Your devoted readers are so thankful that you have made a good recovery from the virus and are making plans for new projects, here’s to those projects and many more Annual Reports!
    Enjoy your well deserved holiday and rest.

  10. Sarah Swan permalink
    August 19, 2020

    Dear GA, Thank you for your Annual Report. Have a restful holiday – I’m sure you need it. I’m so glad to see Spitalfields Life up and running again. Thank you for all you do for your community and beyond. See you in September.

  11. David Antscherl permalink
    August 20, 2020

    Glad to see you back online! It was startling to see the error message the other morning. Thank you so much for your daily entry: always intriguing, widely varying and interesting. Such a refreshing change from other world news.

    Congratulations on your 11th Annual Report and wishing you as relaxed a vacation as Schrodinger has demonstrated.

    Looking forward to your return.

  12. Greta Kelly permalink
    August 20, 2020

    Oh I am so relieved! When your post didn’t appear, instead a scary message I was so worried.
    Had I been still living in Wapping I would have walked down to Fournier Street hoping to find out at the Coffee Shop on the corner that all was well, just an online glitch.
    I open your post first thing after waking every Morning and would miss it so. Enjoy your annual well deserved pause. Looking forward to being inspired, informed, and entertained in the future.

    Greta Kelly.

  13. Mark permalink
    August 20, 2020

    Enjoy your rest, you deserve it.
    As a fellow Socialist, I am also greatly worried for the future and what those useless and dangerous tories have up thier sleeves for us next. It won’t be good will it?
    Thanks for what you do. Strive to be happy!

  14. August 21, 2020

    So glad you’re back. I had some worries that maybe you were still unwell from your COVID adventure and keeping the blog was just too much . I think I can speak for the masses when I say We MISSED you (((((G.A.))))).

  15. Richard permalink
    August 27, 2020

    Thanks for another year. I’ve been checking in over the last six years. Given me a lot of pleasure and interest.

  16. paul loften permalink
    August 28, 2020

    Our discombobulated world shall return to the combobulated next week. We await your return .

  17. Jeannette permalink
    August 29, 2020

    Started reading you nearly 11 years ago and am so grateful were all still standing
    Big hugs

  18. September 15, 2020

    Thank you so much for everything.

  19. Scott Ogier permalink
    November 22, 2021

    I wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed Spitalfields Life since I found it a couple of months ago. Your writing is outstanding – even when I am not very interested in the topic, I still enjoy your writing. And I admire the effort you put into publishing daily!
    My ancestors settled in Spitalfields as Huguenot silk merchants. My 7x-great grandfather was Peter Abraham Ogier of 19 Princelet St. – hence my initial interest in Spitalfields.
    Although I am from the US (Houston, TX), my son is now working in London so I have had the opportunity to visit Spitalfields a couple of times and have really enjoyed it – so diverse and such an interesting history. I’m looking forward to my next trip to England shortly.
    Thanks again for your fascinating look at Spitalfields and East London!
    Scott Ogier

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