Who am I to be blogging about “A Season of Bangla Drama?  Someone who loves drama and theatre, one who subscribes to SkyArts, someone who had to beg the authoritarian authorities so that I could wear trousers when teaching drama in a junior school back in the backdays of the seventies, someone who is hungry to experience and learn about other places, a North Londoner who lives in North east London and prefers it.

The call went out from Tower Hamlets Festivals and Events department for bloggers at “A Season of Bangla Drama”. I responded. What better way to learn about people than through drama?  Seen the films, read some books, and time to get  involved deeper even though I can’t write the script.

A few years ago I lived on a remote Scottish island. I’d come down to London to support musicians in Brick Lane. Remotely, I collaborated with Jake Green, the photographer, and wrote an anthology of poems, “Ribbons” (coming soon). Some of the words just capture the Brick Lane of the late nineties.

Last year I found out through a throwaway comment dropped by my younger sister that my father was born in Turner Street, Whitechapel, just behind the London Hospital.  He’d  told me that he was a Cockney because he was born within the sound of the Bow Bells.

turning into Turner Street E1

I come from a family of true snobs and so,  as we were in Muswell Hill (knobs ‘ill),  and even though we were living on a council estate riddled with murderers and gang-members, we shunned the rough and ready east-enders especially in the dock areas. It is only lately and coincidentally with the volcanic cultural eruptions around the Olympic site in old brownsite Stratford that I am learning about the geography and make-up, then and now, of Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Dalston;  all the allegedly fashionable dwelling places.

My grandmother, a seamstress by trade, lived in Shoreditch before moving to leafy, hilly Crouch End N8.   I  visited her regularly in Crouch End because I loved her.  I was about thirteen when I described Bethnal Green to her as a hotspot of prostitutes and thieves. I’d read about slums in east London.  I had never been there.

“It’s always been bad.” she affirmed.

In the few years my dad lived in the poverty of Whitechapel he was beaten by his father, that I know. Dad would turn in his grave if he knew I were the only English white person along his road the other day. Remember he would have been an Imperialist. He was a racist, for sure, and spent loads of energy justifiying every viewpoint he held. However he was right about the Western diet contributing to bowel cancer and was able to use Binary Code and do Calculus, no problem. He cooked a masterful spaghetti bolognese and gave mum nine kids!

Brady Arts Centre would have been a girls’ club in those days, I believe, and is documented under Jewish History.

So, here I am at SOBD