Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Big Crunch

Wednesday 15th July, about 9pm. Saw the ad on the telly. Thought oi oi, how did we miss that?

Thursday 16th July about 9am – popped over to M's (M organises coach trips with a local farmer who has a couple of buses – Bridlington, Skegness, that sort of thing). She said short notice, but it could be done. Made flyer and posted to 32 houses with RSVP by end of the day and notice of planning meeting on Friday night. A few no's from people who'll be out, but some good yes's, notably J, who's a youth worker and a few of us have put posters up.

Friday 17th July about 6.30pm – another J popped over to say she'd bake cakes; D's on crispie cakes with the kids; youth worker J's sorted tables and decks; M has pop, cups and table cloths; N's asking K about BBQ and I'm off to Home Bargains tomorrow for as many hot dogs and prizes as I can buy for a tenner. Power cut at the pub with storms brewing – beer by candlelight - bliss!

Saturday 18th July about 9am – phone and lights back on, sun is out. Type, print and post another flyer with: where, when, sorted, needed and not. In town by 10.30am, to find: ten ice pops for 49p – grab two of those; eight hot dogs for 85p – grab five; 3 foil servers for 79p; ten mini Curly-Wurlys and ten Chupa Chups both for 69p. 13.30pm start the breadmaker for rolls. Bake 30.

Sunday 19th July about 10.30am. Go with P and J to fetch trestle tables and mixing decks. Never been to the old hall - built in 1552, sadly vandalised by kids. Back at the close we set up a horse shoe and pop over to M's for table cloths – pink and blue seersucker with a sheet for the gaps, just as my memory of '77 serves me. Typically, M empties her entire pantry of pop, cheddars and mini rolls – she reminds me of my Granny.

J starts with Bob Marley and I get the BBQ rolling, but ash from the fire pit starts to land on the hot dogs. Move BBQ, losing four sausages en route - enter Pooch, canine vaccum with midriff to match, who soon comes in handy, as the rain drives my ambitious sun block and the steaming hot smoke into my eyes. I'm soaked, and though too old, fat and now blind for the wet T-shirt competition I have become, the voices around me are happy.

Around 3pm, there's a brief interlude with chairs dry enough to sit on, so we play pass the parcel, musical statues and chairs – every child wins a lolly, chocolate or both. D's crispie cakes have the secret ingredient of golden syrup, makng them sticky, chewy and very very moreish... J's sponges are the fluffiest we've ever tasted, so everyone says hell to their diet today! By 4.30pm, we're tired and resolve to pack up. A couple of young'uns complain, but retire sheepishly indoors to carry on – White Lightening.

I'd gone to the pub to fetch the candlesticks, taken over on Friday night. I came home about 9pm to find my child amongst others being interviewed by police. The incident – a racially aggravated assault – saw no major injuries, but plenty of hurt, shock and disgust. I feel ashamed, don't want to write this – the potential for labelling ours a “sink estate” cuts to the quick. Why us, why here, and bugger any attempt at The Big Lunch next year. 

Monday 20th July, I cannot bring myself to Tweet or blog a word. I wash the table cloths, compile evidence for my benefit application (I wasn't going to divulge that either) and then think, NO! This is what I'm fighting for. Poverty does not need to hang its head in shame. Racism and drunken brawls are not exclusive to social housing. They raise their ugly head in fear, need and envy. We cannot kow-tow to that.

More than ever in recession, folk need to see a way forward; how to occupy and entertain themselves no matter how tight things are. Charity is not a fund to be distributed in prejudicial pigeon holes, but an action demanding reaction and interaction, for in participation thrives the innovation to truly #rebootbritain. 

Posted @ 08:55:46 on 21 July 2009
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