A lot has been written about Stuart Hall over the past week, following his convictions for sexual assaults on young women and girls. Before Hall's work as a broadcaster is forgotten, I want to say a few words about his work on television and radio.
Anyone growing up in the North West of England in the 1970s or 1980s will have memories of the BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall. In one of the earliest pictures of this blogger, I am standing up in a tin bath in a front room in Wilmslow with tufts of unruly hair, resplendent in my birthday suit. On the black and white television set behind me in the top of a black and white photograph, is Stuart Hall. He is probably in his mid-late forties, and to be honest looks pretty much the same as he did until well into his 70s.
Stuart Hall was a big name. In an era when there were only three or four TV channels, he was the BBC’s lead for local news in the North West, whilst he had a national profile presenting It’s A Knockout on BBC1. Sadly I remember little about that spirit of the age game show. What I do recall is that it nearly always seemed to be filmed outside, and for some reason had a pan-European competitor base. It involved lots of silly games involving water and paper mache figures. Inevitably participants would fall into the water and/or trip over at vital moments. Whenever this happened Stuart Hall would be roaring with laughter like a deranged laughing policeman on acid, as one team (invariably the Belgians) snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
English culture is predominantly anti-intellectual. As children, we bully the geeky boy with glasses, and afford status to those who are physically brave or good at sports. Other cultures are different – in France, when Jean-Paul Sartre died, the automobile factories of Paris fell quiet, as the workers walked out on strike to attend his funeral. The closest we have come to that in the UK was in 1968, when London dockers and market porters downed tools in support of Enoch Powell’s speech against immigration. Even that political action is largely a myth – thousands of men left work, yet it was hundreds who made it to Parliament in support of Powell – most of the others were down the pub. In contrast to these traditions, Stuart Hall always wore his learning on his sleeve – he knew his Shakespeare, and wanted everyone else to know that he did.
In the years before
mobile phones, if you wanted to hear the football results as you travelled home
from a match, you needed to stand next to, or follow, a ‘tranny man’ – a fan
with a transistor radio. There were many times in the 1980s or early 1990s I travelled
from Warwick Road station to Manchester Piccadilly, after a United match, and
observed a train carriage descend into hushed silence for one of Stuart Hall’s
radio reports on a game.
Not everyone understood what Hall was talking about. Once an interview with Liverpool manager Roy Evans descended into farce after a typically florid introduction threw Evans completely. Lost for words he simply said “You don’t half talk some rubbish you, Stuart”. When Paul Ince played for Manchester United, plenty of commentators will have observed his ‘donkey work’ in midfield. Only Stuart Hall described him as “toiling like a Stakhanovite”. In a way, the era when Stuart Hall presented Look North West, now looks a golden age in terms of the seriousness of the presenters. On ITV, Granada Reports had the late Tony Wilson, another man who was desperately keen to show not only how clever he was, but how important it was to be clever. Looking last year at the local news programmes in the region, both ITV and BBC had a double act of presenters, both had one male and one female presenter, both had one white and one ethnic minority presenter. I doubt any had read a book since their student days. Style matters more than substance.
Long after television put Stuart Hall out to grass, his intelligence ensured that he maintained a viable career within the BBC. His football reports continued, on Radio 2 and then on Radio 5. When Old Trafford began to style itself as ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ Hall delighted in telling listeners that he was reporting from Maine Road ‘The Theatre of Comedy’. Perhaps because of his age, his views on football could be both insightful and rounded. During one of the periodic panics about cheating and foreign players, he simply recalled the Manchester City team of the early 70s “Franny Lee was the biggest diver ever”. In more recent years I started buying the Radio Times again, largely because of Hall’s rambling column on sport and TV, which often contained a beautifully written unrequited love for Claire Balding, and always ended with his exit, pursued by a bear.
After last week’s court case in Preston, we now know there was another Stuart Hall. A man who forced himself on women, teenage girls and children. The way legal proceedings have ended – with Hall pleading guilty to several assaults, with more serious cases now not being prosecuted, appears generous towards him. More so, given the damage he did to his victims, than he deserves. Stuart Hall’s reputation is destroyed. It seems fitting he should die in prison, although whether a judge will see fit to jail an 83 year old man, remains to be seen.
We seem to be living in age where the rather unhealthy celebrity culture we have experienced since the 1950s, is being hacked at by unwelcome and unpleasant home truths. What the motor is for this, is unclear. It shows little sign of abating. I can’t say that I am particularly bothered at the destruction of Jimmy Savile’s reputation, or for that matter those of some of the celebrities currently awaiting court cases for serious sexual offences. But, for a variety of reasons, both personal and political (with a small p) Stuart Hall’s downfall is saddening.
There have been no posts on here, or the 9/11 Cultwatch blog for a while. The combination of teaching at three Universities, security work, childcare responsibilities and trying to complete my PhD has rather restricted my travel into the world of blogging. Laurie Penny once said the Internet was a real place where she does her work - I have to contend that it because I am doing work in the real world that I am now so rarely on the Internet.
Over on the Notes From the Borderland site my friend and colleague Larry O'Hara has written a considerable article on 'anti-fascist' organisation Hope Not Hate and their 'public consultation' on whether to campaign against the UK Independence Party. It says much about the nature of HnH's approach to politics that although a majority (67%) of respondents voted for a campaign against UKIP, leader Nick Lowles has decided to instead 'monitor' UKIP. This decision was taken even though as far back as 1996 Lowles was writing to the European Movement offering to run a Searchlight campaign against UKIP!
UKIP have called some of the big issues of the past decade correctly. They are correct on the European Union, and have been proved correct on the Euro. I think UKIP are wrong on the issue gay marriage, but that is hardly an issue that effects the price of fish. More importantly Nigel Farage correctly identifies what for me is the core issue of British politics today - its dominance by what is in effect a political class, with its own interests and terminology, and little or no contact or empathy with the mass of the population.
It is not enough to simply identify Bullingdon Club Tories as the biggest section of this - think of Ed Miliband attending the same junior school as Boris Johnson in North London, or the endless succession of policy wonks and think tank theorists dominating Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and Green. On one level the House of Commons has never been more diverse - more women, younger MPs, more black and Asian MPs than ever before, but scrath below the surface and this 'diversity' is a sham. The two Labour candidates in Norwich North and Norwich South in the next election are classic examples of this - one young and mixed race, the other young and female. Their CVs though are a checklist of the elements that comprise our political class - a journalist and former Vice President of the useless National Union of Students, and a policy wonk for the Fabian Society who is a Councillor in Islington - it is all so predictable. So samey, so fake and so elitist. The days of a candidate emerging such as Ian Gibson, a scientist orginally from the West of Scotland, are long gone.
For the Conservatives to win the next election, they will need to sink UKIP well below the 10-13% they are currently polling. Equally UKIP are likely to chip into Labour's vote in the north and midlands. Traditionally however in general elections the media focus on the big two (or three) parties sinks the candidates from smaller parties. Will that happen again in 2015? Hope Not Hate, led by significant figures in the Progress faction of the Labour Party and part funded by the Coalition's Department for Communities and Local Government, will no doubt attempt to play a role in ensuring that happens. What HnH does will not be decided by those who contribute to on-line polls or discussion forums - such decisions will instead be taken behind closed doors. By Nick Lowles, Ruth Smeeth and Anthony Painter. For vested interests.
Which is really where we came in. With the political class.
The Evening Standard's letters page came up trumps last night with this cracker on the subject of female genital mutilation:
It will take more than £35 million from the UK to end Female Genital Mutilation. Thousands of poor women worldwide earn their living from carrying it out and ending it will involve creating new roles for them and huge change to their societies.
Leadership at the community level must be the driving forc, and this needs to be backed up by culturally appropriate health and education services. David Cameron would make a better contribution towards ending FGM if he commited to ensuring large companies do not dodge taxes and exploit poor countries.
Martin Drewery, Health Poverty Action.
Just read that second sentence again. Then imagine someone writing "Thousands of poor people worldwide earn their living robbing old ladies. Ending mugging will involve creating new roles for them and huge change to their societies". The logic is the same.
For a charity supposedly concerned with health, Health Poverty Action make no mention of the health effects of FGM - which can range from death to long term physical, psychological and sexual problems. As so often with charities, Health Poverty Action seems less concerned with setting out facts than with establishing a broader political agenda.
FGM has been around a long time, and is ingrained in some countries in Africa and the Middle East. That is unlikely to be an issue readily tackled by the British Prime Minister. Curiously Martin Drewery makes no mention of the historical British failures to address FGM in this country (something the Prime Minister could have done something about) but does instead raise the need for David Cameron to ensure large companies do not dodge taxes and exploit developing countries.
On one level, I agree. But how David Camerson can prevent a German based multi-national exploiting the tax system in Egypt is unclear. Indeed the problem in many developing nations is not simply that the multi-nationals pay little or no tax, it is that these nations ruling classes have never paid any taxes, and refuse to do so (See Owen Bennett Jones' classic book on Pakistan for an example of a country where no one has ever been convicted of tax evasion).
FGM continues because there are particular cultural (and, although less clearly) religious justifications that are made for it. I accept it is easier (sorry, more culturally appropriate) for Martin Drewery to talk about big companies not paying their taxes, than it is to address these cultural issues.
But what is easy, is not always correct. His letter reads like a very sharp spoof of a comedian mocking a left wing activist. It discredits the charity sector.
Clearing some old papers recently, I came across this little gem from The Times of 4 June 1998:
"Caught in the act
Frank Field. the Minister for Welfare Reform, is to appeal to makers of television soap operas and of "kitchen sink" movies to show benefit fraudsters being caught and prosecuted. Mr Field said he wanted to promote an anti-fraud culture".
Frank Field watches over an Eastenders script meeting at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire.
The Steampunk Shariah website has published an article condemning the alleged interference of the authorities at City University in London, with the Friday prayers held by the University Islamic Society. You can read the artcle here:
My response is 'awaiting moderation' - in case it is not published, here it is below:
A few things are missing from this piece, whether by accident or design. The first is the local history of City ISOC. Its past racist comments to a Sikh student journalist who had investigated its extremism is perhaps the worst example, but its long term dispute with the University has to be considered relevant. Here is a libertarian socialist analysis from 2010 on some of the issues raised by City ISOCs past conduct:
Many Universities are now moving towards the creation of multi-faith spaces, to be shared by all religious societies on campus, and/or are encouraging religious groups to make use of local religious buildings off site. I would hazard a guess if City ISOC did this, few local mosques would stand for the sort of nonsense they have got up to in the past. Either way, I am not the only person to observe how willing some religions are to share space in this way, and how reluctant ISOCs are. Universities will increasingly make the decision for them.
I do not much care for Marine Le Pen, but comparing a one-off appearance at the Cambridge Union with the broader treatment of University ISOCs is a tad cheeky. Universities are more concerned, not with occasional debates, but the responsibility they have to regular users of their premises. Put simply, use their facilities on a regular basis, obey their rules. That is what City ISOC is struggling with.
Finally there is the much broader issue, which you mention solely in relation to fascist terrorists. Do you really want me to list all the serving or former ISOC members convicted of terrorist offences in the past twenty years? Or the numbers involved in actual or attempted suicide bombings?
We are talking about over a score of individuals, something that outstrips the examples of far-right terrorism in this country.
I have recently come across this video from The Jam's single Absolute Beginners way back in 1981.
For some reason I can't remember seeing this at the time, even though I was a big fan of the band. Looking at it now musically it has aged pretty well. The video induces pure nostalgia - it is not the clothes, seeing the streets and cars that takes you back to the early 1980s. I found myself shouting out a 'Ford Cortina, a Rover' and desperate for the street scenes to continue.
Freedom Bookshop at 84b Whitechapel High Street re-opens today after the arson attack against it in the early hours of Friday morning. You can find more details on the Freedom website, donations at this time are obviously particualarly welcome.
The last time Freedom was attacked - in 1993 - it was by the fascist Combat 18 group, so speculation inevitably falls on this being an attack by the far--right. Interestingly, shortly before this attack, Britain First was circulating details to supporters of the launch of a new co-ordinating organisation for 'patriotic' street protest, to be called the English National Resistance. This was hyped as bringing together the English Defence League, Britain First, the English Democrats and South East Alliance.
The announcement stated:
"The 'English National Resistance' will confront, demonstrate and protest nationwide against the politically correct enemies of our country."
And the ENR comes complete with a fancy crest
The declaration continued:
Among the historical problems that the 'English National Resistance' is resolved to address is the chronic lack of discipline at demonstrations, the lack of ideology and direction, a weak hierarchical structure and the elimination of outside influences and agendas.
These problems will be solved once and for all by the'English National Resistance'.
The 'English National Resistance' will also take the form of an 'association', whereby existing street protest groups can join the new cooperative organisation and take a seat on the governing council, and several groups have already taken this step and joined forces.
The 'English National Resistance' will build a new disciplined organisation that mobilises patriotic activists against any attack on our culture, rights and heritage.
This is an exciting new dawn for patriotic politics, and we need the unbridled support of all of our supporters to make this a success.
Unfortunately for the ENR, their first planned demonstration - at Abu Qatada's home in north London on Saturday 2 February - was postponed after a High Court injunction was taken out by Mr Qatada's ever busy legal team. Whether the ENR took their frustrations out by attacking Freedom books instead is not yet known, but entirely possible.
Other suspects emerge. The first is some sort of secret state chicanery. The work Freedom does brings it significant enemies in London's police force, in the national public order intelligence units and of course amongst those spooks even deeper in the shadows. When Freedom was attacked in 1993 the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, known for its close links to the security services and habit of smearing Anarchists, suggested other Anarchists were responsible. So far, Searchlight has remained silent, although journalist Brian Whelan, closely associated with Searchlight splinter Hope Not Hate, has been at Freedom interviewing staff.
A second possibility is an attack by Islamist elements. Local Muslim youths have attacked squats in Whitechapel before (which it seems they idiotically believed were associated with the EDL) and two youths were jailed for a mob attack on the Blind Beggar pub just down the road earlier this year. Again the 'we thought they was the EDL' defence was given. We have also seen 'Muslim Patrols' on the streets in Tower Hamlets by a small number of fundamentalists, several of whom have since been arrested.
The third possibility - the least likely - is perhaps less political - someone wants Freedom out, in an area of high property values, as they want that building.
All of the above explanations now are possible, but unproven. The important thing now is to get behind Freedom, to donate books and to donate money. Attacking Freedom shall not pass.
There are few sights sadder for any sports fan than a decaying football stadium. Earlier this week I took some pictures of Kettering Town's derelict Rockingham Road ground, which has been empty since 2011.
Kettering Town currently play their home games at the ground of rivals Corby Town. They are bottom of the EvoStick Southern League, having had 10 points deducted during the course of the season, a transfer embargo and speculation the club would not complete its fixtures. Although their results have been relegation material, a spirited fans campaign is keeping the club alive, after 140 years of tradition.
You can view the Poppies Fans forum here, and listen to Poppies Radio for match commentaries, and follow Save KTFC on twitter. Or better still if you are in the area - got to a match and show the team some support.
Given the storm over rape allegations and the SWP's response to them, the meeting's timing was apt. The UEA's student paper, Concrete, gives an account of the meeting here. I was particularly drawn to Orr's reported comments on the SWP and accountability:
"Orr maintained that the SWP were "more accountable than any other organisation", being entirely intolerant of sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other hateful prejudices within the party.
The decision to go through the party's disputes committee, which Orr noted was elected yearly to ensure fair representation, was entirely the decision of the victim and expressed sadness on behalf of both parties involved that the matter, which was meant to be "utterly confidential", had come out against their wishes."
Judith Orr's description of SWP internal democracy will produce a wry smile from anyone active in left wing politics over the last few decades, or indeed anyone who has been in the SWP. Elections in the party have traditionally meant voting for a slate of candidates, with no opportunity to cast votes outside of that, and a system of powerful regional organisers and full time staff advising members on how to vote.
That is perhaps what you would expect in a Trotskyist organisation, which models itself on the successful seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in 1917. That worked for Lenin, but hardly fits with 21st century demands for accountability and bottom up organising.
The SWP's current crisis is rooted in more than the poor treatment of a rape victim - it is rooted in its own ideology.
I must admit my hopes are not high for this.
The publication concerned, Dysopia, recently published a special issue on anti-Semitism. It managed not to dwell on groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (and its various European offshoots), Hamas, or some of the violence faced by European Jewish communities, which increasingly comes from Muslim, rather than white fascist actors. The Toulouse murders in 2012, and the would be jihadists in Manchester convicted of targetting Jews in the city, being only two examples.
The call for articles below is extremely carefully worded, I suspect because Dysophia's editors have a very clear idea in mind exactly what articles they want - and what they should say- and exactly what they should not. Still here goes:
Dysophia, an independent anarchist zine, is planning a follow on from its successful look at antisemitism by exploring issues around Islam and anti-Muslim racism from an anarchist perspective. We are aware that, as UK-based activists, much is missing from the wider discussion and more nuanced analysis is needed.
In particular, we would like to explore how anarchists in the 'West' (that is, Christian-dominated societies) can:
* show solidarity with those experiencing anti-Muslim racism;
* show solidarity with comrades who live in places where Islam is a dominant ideology; and
* approach the challenges thrown up by Islamic fundamentalism without playing into current imperialist / racist tendencies that demonize Muslim communities in the West and underscore current imperialist warmongering.
We hope that this publication will open up critical discussion that can take the anarchist movement forward. Thus, we are soliciting articles from anarchists living in societies where Islam is a dominant force, which discuss all or some of the following issues:
i) how they relate to Islam itself and how the culture of their societym affects and shapes their approaches to anarchism;
ii) how they perceive Islamophobia and related racisms in the 'West';
iii) how anarchists in the 'West' can show solidarity with comrades in Muslim-majority countries (including, for example, during Western states' interventions in and portrayals of the 'Arab spring');
iv) how anarchists living in the West can demonstrate solidarity with Muslim communities here, while sustaining anti-discrimination politics such as that around gender, sexuality, etc. (for example, how could we respond to protests against sharia law, right wing focusing on fundamentalist elements of religion as an attack on all, demonisation of Muslim populations, cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammed).
v) how the 'War on Terror' has affected their political activity;
vi) anarchist perspectives on class, gender and sexuality in the context of Islam.
Secondly, we would like to hear from anarchists who identify as having a Muslim background who live in the West and would like to communicate their experiences and politics around islamophobia. We are also interested in hearing from anarchists who cultural identification is
Western, but feel they have a perspective they would like to contribute.
Finally, we are interested in hearing accounts from anarchist groups in Muslim-majority countries so that others can learn about their activities, as often those in the West do not get to hear about them. If there are enough of these, we will turn them into a separate publication.
Article size can be up three thousand words, and we are looking for pieces that are accessible to everyone rather than not jargon-heavy academic tracts. Images gratefully received. We will be publishing in English, though if you have writings in another language, or will struggle with English please get in contact first as we may be able to sort out translations. We will protect anonymity whenever requested and have secure forms of communication if desired, including pgp / gpg. We would like to get submissions in by 31st March if possible.
If you have any questions then do not hesitate to ask. Please feel free to forward on.
Dysophia editors (D O'D, SR)
There are not many certainities in life, but I rather suspect my 2010 "British Islamism: Towards an Anarchist Response" is not the type of thing they are looking for.
All of today's newspapers have full coverage of the Algerian hostage crisis, where Jihadists held workers captive in an attempt to free Aaafia Siddiqui and the 'Blind Sheikh' Omar Abdul-Rahman from jail in the United States.
Picking through it, I was rather tickled by this line in the Sunday Telegraph's coverage, courtsey of Robert Mendick, Patrick Sawer and Patrick Hennessy:
"Offical sources told Algeria's El Watan newspaper, a journal known for its close contact with the country's secret services, that the terrorists had tried to set fire to the gas facility's installations on Friday night after their demands - including safe passage and the release of al-Qaeda terrorists in the US - remained unmet."
I have never read El Watan, but wonder if its journalists may amuse themselves in future by writing something along the lines of "British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, whose defence correspondent Con Coughlin is known for his close links to the country's external security service MI6...."
Students think I'm an old git when I tell them to read books, rather than web articles or YouTube clips.
I'm not really sure anyone really knows the long term effects on our brains of the immediacy of information, the range of formats it is available in, or the short timescale of so much of it. A further suggestion of the dangers posed by what I refer to as the three minute culture, comes from Sir Alex Ferguson's press conference at Old Trafford on Friday 11 January:
"Perhaps the most remarkable of the United manager's observations was that players no longer have the powers of concentration to sit down and watch a full 90-minute match video. "Going back 20 years, we gave them a full video of the game" he said. "We don't do that now because the concentration of players watching a full game is not there. But if you condense it into various aspects of our opponents then it works and that's what we do".
Quoted in Ian Herbert's "Ferguson: It's A Long Road For Liverpool", The Independent 12 January 2013.
I have only recently come across this recording of a comparatively early New Order concert, in New York in November 1981.
As with anything on You Tube or similar sites - enjoy this whilst you can - Peter Hook's lawyers could take it down tomorrow!
As students return to University following the Christmas holidays, those at the University of East Anglia can be assured that their student union is at the cutting edge of political relevance in these hard times:
"The Union of UEA Students has passed policy to introduce gender neutral toilets in Union House in order to accomodate for those who do not identify within the male-female gender binary."
Concrete, UEA's Student Newspaper, Issue 276, Tuesday 4 December.
The article goes on to state that the budget for this is not confirmed. That is perhaps not surprising - the UEA Students Union has a deficit of £132,000, although this is expected to fall to £114,500 over the course of the academic year.
There's a whole world outside of your University campus boys and girls - and it looks very, very different to the one some of you are cocooned in.
I was very impressed with the quote below from John Timpson, Chairman of high street chain Timpson, in the business section of yesterday's Telegraph:
"....our biggest achievement is the way James and his team have employed people from prison in a way that works brilliantly both for them and our business - 8% of current Timpson colleagues joined us from prison. One week during November all the customer compliments I received were praising service given in shops run by ex-offenders.
My big disappointment is that so few companies have followed our example. Greggs the Bakers is the only other business to embrace the concept with real zeal."
Well done Timpson's! There is more on their work in this field here.
Forty years ago today, the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community. That decision was reinforced by the 1975 referendum.
A generation later, the EEC has morphed, first into the European Community, then to become the European Union, something far removed from the free trade area with a few political conferences, that our parents voted either Yes or No to.
The EU has a President (who we can't vote for) a Foreign Minister (Baroness Ashton, who again we can't vote for) and an intelligence agency (who we know less about than our own secretive security agencies). No doubt in time the EU will have its own police force and army. It sets laws that take precedence over those created by the House of Commons.
All this costs us billions of pounds per year (the actual estimates vary). Forty years on - it is time to remove this additional tier of government and civil servants from our backs, and to leave the European Union.
Following James May's funeral last week, his family have asked for any donations to go to the Woodcraft Folk, an organisation James was involved with both as a child and as a parent.
A special web page has been set up to allow people to do this. If you can't face the sales, and would prefer to do something more positive with your money, why not give a donation?
I have set myself the challenge of finding a Christmas song as good as The Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty McCall.
I have failed. I do however have a soft spot for December Will Be Magic Again by Kate Bush. Here it is.
Back in 1999, when Hackney resident Harry Stanley was shot dead by the police for carrying a table leg, a black friend of mine commented "They've got away with it so much, they've started doing it to white people".
By 2012, it seems the police had got away with fabricating evidence so much, they were doing it to the Chief Whip. And as with the Stanley case, the police were also leaking supposedly priviliged material to tame journalists, who were willing to reproduce, unquestioningly, the police 'side'.
I don't see the Leveson Inquiry doing much about the police's long term 'spinning' of and in the media. Actually, manipulation is probably a better word than spin. Andrew Mitchell might. Go for it Mr Mitchell.
I have chosen the first day of the Mayan calendar to move home.
I came to London in 1992 to take up a job at the then Polytechnic of North London as a library assistant. In 1994 I moved to Hackney, and genuinely thought I would live here for the rest of my life. Events however intervened. For the past two years I have shared a single bedroom with my wife and two children - conditions that pretty much mitigate against proper sleep, or getting my research papers in any sort of order.
There was a time a council tenant whose affairs were in good order but lived in overcrowded conditions could have expected to be re-housed. Not today. In its assessment Hackney Homes gave me a 'general' banding status, putting some 27,000 families ahead of mine. There is no appeals process to this, and it was only after my Councillor wrote to Hackney Homes that they even attempted to explain or justify their decision.
The average price of a three bedroom house in Hackney is £438, 707. To rent is, on average £1950 per month (the figures for flats are slightly lower). Pretty obviously that is beyond my wallet - and with no possibility of being re-housed by Hackney Homes, I have joined the exodus from London to the Midlands - hopefully close enough to still be able to get into London for work and research, but far enough away for the rent to be affordable.
Hackney has changed a lot in the past 18 years. we have the Overground. Hackney has gone from edgy to trendy, Hackney Council has lost its 'loony left' image and residents of its remaining tower blocks can look out of the window and see a series of cranes working on the construction of new flats and re-developed estates.
Whoever those developments are for, it is not me and my family. Goodbye Hackney. It was nice knowing you.