Friday, 22 July 2011
"You Know What I Mean 'Arry?"
Such a lot has happened on the writing scene lately! Anne has told us that last month we had 1,627 visits to this blog. Way to go, girls! Since I last posted, Anna Jacobs, Gwen Kirkwood and Freda Lightfoot have all written their news, including the sad notification Iain Blair better known as Emma, died on July 3rd, leaving behind him a legacy of great stories. This year we also lost Gilda O’Neill, a prolific writer of stories about the East End of London, my neck of the woods, though Gilda’s turf was Poplar, whilst I’m more Millwall and Cubitt Town. My family are costermongers, dockers, bird fanciers, dodgy dealers, marketers and shop-keepers. The Isle of Dogs is a horseshoe of land jutting out into the River Thames, comprising West India Docks, Millwall Docks, Blackwall Basin and South Dock basin. The island was once so poor, Gilda’s Poplar was regarded as posh. She’d laugh at that! On the island, no one ever had new clothes, shoes or furniture. Everything was begged, borrowed or stolen. And then of course, there were the markets. But even these sometimes, were regarded as rip-offs. The Isle of Dogs was the Luftwaffe’s first port of call in World War 2. It was the docks the planes went after, but Mum’s house was razed to the ground. My Nan and aunties finally fled the Doodlebugs, the eternal brick dust, the night and day catastrophes and deaths, depleting almost every family on the island. Mum survived the night of the worst raid. She didn’t like the Anderson or the underground, so she hid under the table. The front door of our house blew in and met the back door, then Mum got out before the whole lot caved in. Granddad was blown off his bike and into the docks, but he was a strong swimmer. Dad shimmied down from the control box on his crane, ran through the foot tunnel from Greenwich, and stood staring at our terrace in Chapel House Street. My Nan and aunties had survived. Mind you, they left pretty quick, bundling aboard a bus to Oxfordshire. The little they had was left behind and for the next six months they were shuttled around the country. Mum returned to the island to wait for Dad’s call-up. When the buff envelope came, she refused to let him go. I wouldn’t mess with my mum now, at 92, and I don’t think Dad fancied it much then. But he had aspirations. He was a good man, an intelligent one. And he did his tour of duty for the next five years. Goodness only knows how he survived. But he did. So, no need for me to wonder what I should write about, then? And now, well, the world is changing again and I’m still here to be part of it. What a privilege! This time, it’s the Digital tsunami! So exciting! All of us are in awe of Freda (Lightfoot) – who has paved the way for self-publishing digitally. And much to our surprise, we can hear the bombs dropping in the publishing world. Writers are confident enough now to take more control of our futures. Rejections? What the heck! We’ll publish ourselves! Not quite the Blitz, but then, some elements seem familiar – the human spirit is so resourceful – and brave! In a great fighter’s words, “You know what I mean ‘Arry?” Yes, I think we do!