Sunday, 5 January 2014

Happy New Year!

It's getting later and later. Apologies to those misguided enough to follow this blog for the delay in posting for the second week in a row. Much of the week has been taken up with aggravation over my Dad's stoma bag, the district nurse service and the problems caused by the inability to contact them direct. You could do so until they moved from the Bethnal Green Health Centre to the Mile End Hospital, but now you have to ring the 'single point of contact' and they pass on a message. That's progress for you - one step forward, two steps back.

Last weekend, there was excellent weather (after a very wet week) for my 'Battle for Bethnal Green' walk, featuring the likes of Sydney Waterlow and Angela Burdett-Coutts:

There were some good friends along: Julia Ingall, Ann Flowers and Rizia Begum, all former colleagues from Tower Hamlets. There was illustrious company as well: guides Daniella King (
and David Rosenberg
with Paul Talling, your man for Derelict London
and his charming wife.

What the walk shows is how philanthropists stepped in to take the initiatives which provided for the lack of a social infrastructure, particularly when it came to the housing and related health and hygiene issues. The need to provide properly administered dwellings with proper amenities (very basic by our standards, but good for the time) to rescue the victims of the rapacity of private sector landlords is a lesson very much for our times. Understandably, the landlords wanted a maximum return for their investment, but sadly this meant not spending money on providing amenities in their properties and not worrying too much about their tenants' living conditions. It was this that kept cholera in the area for decades. I can't help thinking that, since the 1980s, we've been steadily reversing all the advances that were made in the C19 and C20, and this seems to be ever more the case with the present government.

I'm still doing what I can on facebook to promote petitions etc against the cruelty of the fur trade, and of the dog and cat meat trade in China and Korea, with animals being boiled alive and dogs being tortured before being cooked to 'improve the quality of the meat'. There's a great deal of cruelty in this world meted out to animals. For some reason people seem to believe that it's alright that animals should be subjected to intolerable pain for our pleasure. Maybe one day we'll come to our senses.

I went along to the wonderful Geffrye Museum ( to top up my Christmas spirit with their 'Christmas Past' exhibition. I have to get along there every Christmas. It's a marvellous exhibition, with each of the interiors decked out in Christmas decorations appropriate for the period. My favourite interior is the seventeenth-century room:

I shall leave yesterday's doings for the next post, in case there's nothing else to add! But that's all for now.


Dave Charnowalks