In 2002 Susan and I moved to Stoke Newington. We already had friends in London and their reactions to our choice of neighbourhood varied. Apologies if I sound ageist, but the more seasoned individuals were a bit concerned.
They thought of the area as being steeped in criminality and it is true that £9m had been spent as long ago as 1990 on building the current police station. Few dwell on that and it is a tribute to the current Stokey that pals roll their eyes at the alleged pseudo-bohemianism of many locals.
There are reasons to be thankful for the well-heeled who retain an interest in books or would at least like to nurture one. How else does literature survive as a just about viable part of our culture? It is reinforced when people, in the most civilised manner, take to the streets, as they are about to do so for the third Stoke Newington Literary Festival.
The programme is not just packed with tempting events. It also stirs your curiosity. I have long found ignorance to be a benefit and I was intrigued, for instance, to come across Bert: The Life and Times of A.L. Lloyd with Dave Arthur. Lloyd was whalerman, Marxist, sheep station roustabout and painter, but also folklorist and singer.
The broadcaster Arthur will be recalling this remarkable man. Dare I suggest that the late Lloyd trumps all others on the programme? He has an unbeatable commendation at any rate. “When everyone else was listening to Cream,” said Frank Zappa, “I was listening to A.L.Lloyd.”
I am taken by another sort of eclecticism at the festival. Pete Brown, beer scholar, is not so esoteric as Zappa, but it must be intriguing to see which classic beers, in his judgment, go well with which classic album tracks.
After all the cultural roaming you can return to London itself when John Rees and Lindsey German discuss the impact and tradition of dissent that has shaped this city. They see continuity from the apprentices who shut the city gates on Charles I to the anti-fascist Battle of Cable Street in 1936.
Kevin’s book, is available HERE.
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