2023. I hope. I hope.

Above. In Loving memory of Glen LeFleur Drummer on the left. He died last week. RIP. A concert at The Roundhouse for RAR. That night, lucky me, two drummers, both now passed on. Glen and Mitch Mitchell, who, as many Folkestone folk, of a certain age, know, had a big connection with this area. As the drummer with Jimi Hendrix.

Also, a sort of letter to some of those wonderful men that I knew in my life. Now as dearly departed. There are many, many good ‘uns. I was lucky enough to have known some the good ‘uns.

Here we are in 2023 and our world is weary and sick, after centuries of human and industrial waste, pollution, defiling both land and sea. Our streets are full of the homeless and destitute, people dying, as the NHS lurches towards breaking point, and children die in homes as bad as in any Dickens Novel, struggling for breath in damp and filthy conditions. Landlords milking money for properties that are less than safe, from fire: or rotten and dank, both the landlords and the properties. People drown in The English channel, in over crowded little boats. Men women and children. Fleeing War and persecution. While governments twiddle fingers, hold meetings, do nothing. ‘When will we ever learn?’

I will continue to hope.

I hope we find peace, compassion, love, common sense and solidarity. I hope that bullying and pompous leaders, worldwide – I hope they open their eyes and minds and hearts. I hope they put down their weapons, I hope they stop making war, spouting vile and dangerous words. Holding the world to ransom with Nuclear weapons. I hope inequality, bigotry and racism will be no more. I hope the corporate fat cats, politicians, despots and dictators, I hope they learn from people in the world, everywhere, people who want to simply live in harmony, with love, with a fair wage for their labour. What is a basic living wage? More like a slowly starving wage for so many. I hope for a world living and celebrating our divine differences and wonderful similarities.

Idealistic? Yes. But I can still hope, can’t I? If not for me, then for the young and those soon to come along. May your home keep you and your beloveds safe and sound.

Work. A track.

Above A Wedding in February 1967. My husband Larry Smart RIP. 2005

1968. Up West to watch a film and what a film. 2001 seemed an impossible date. Would I even be alive in 2001- let alone 2023?

2001 Space Odyssey in London. It was the Premier at Casino Theatre on Old Compton Street in London’s Soho. The previous year, Larry and I had a son, aged one year, born May 29th 1967. A friend came to baby sit, and off we went with some friends, including John Hoppy Hopkins, photographer and political activist. He spent the 1960s documenting jazz and poetry. He was at the centre of London’s so called, underground scene and recorded many of the peace marches, poetry readings and “happenings”, as well as photographing leading counter-cultural figures. I am the proud owner of some of his work, both photographs and words. Hoppy had Parkinsons, and when he died, one of the two Parkinsons Choirs that I directed in London, sang at his funeral. Another old friend gone. As the years go by, I become lonelier. One of the worst things about the ageing experience.

If I had been able to look into the future, sitting in the Cinema, in Soho, in 1968. If I had glimpsed where we would be in 2023, from where I lived at that time, in the slums of W2. A cold and mouldy Bathroom on the first landing, serving four families. Damp and rot in corners, on walls and in crevices. No front door to call your own. Washing hanging in the hallways and rooms. Two rooms on each landing. If I had travelled into future time, 2023? Are we travelling backwards in time? To Victorian poverty?

Amongst my neighbours, lived some of the most generous and noble people I ever met. I had no parental love as a child, and was out in the world at 15, working and making my way. My friends became my family. I learned. From those who had a good education and used it for all the right reasons. Those who had lived, travelled from other places invited by The British Government. The Empire Windrush, with people from the Caribbean. Many worked and helped build the NHS, drove public transport. In1968 an Act that aimed to ensure that the second-generation immigrants “who have been born here” and were “going through our schools” would get “the jobs for which they are qualified and the houses they can afford”. Yea right. I was there. No Blacks. No Irish. No dogs. No picnic.

In 2018 many of those same people were detained, denied legal rights, in at least 83 cases wrongly deported. The home secretary Theresa May, with her despicable and ruthless politics, and the current of her ilk, continue to tread that barbarous path. A betrayal of the worst kind.

I became more aware of the world around me. Witnessed injustice on a daily basis. I began to sing and then finally, after many years of hiding my words, I found the courage to sing them, put my words outside of my hiding places, words that expressed my own beliefs, my own feelings.

Above with friends. Dave Vasco, Guitarist. 2nd left back row. 4th in back row George Butler, drummer RIP.

Below In Loving memory of Dee, Ruben Hollingsworth.

2023, is a continuation of the the wealthy getting fat off the backs and labour of others. Post War Britain was a grey place. Aneurin Bevan gave us the gift that became NHS. We are watching it in death throes. This hero may be crying from his grave.

Votes for women -1928 UK. New Zealand in 1912. The world’s first female members of Parliament were elected in 1906 in Finland. In Europe, the last jurisdiction to grant women the right to vote was the Swiss in 1991;  Iraq: 1980 Oman: 1994 Saudi Arabia: 2015 and on it goes. Some society’s held women enchained until very recent times. And still do so.

In 1961 the pill arrived for women. As long as they were married! 1967 she could seek an abortion. Legally. In 1967 the Sexual Offences Act was passed. It was ok to be gay. Lesbians? ‘No such thing..’ as Queen Victoria famously said.

Until 1964, a woman could not own property, centuries of rich sons inheriting more land and wealth. Centuries of woman serving man, owned by man, his goods and chattels. Even in the1970s, it was technically legal for banks to refuse loans and credit to unmarried women. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed in 1974. Quite a wait from gaining the right to vote.

Below – some pics from the days of W2 as slums, before it was bulldozed to make way for a richer, more expensive Notting Hill and Paddington area. St Stevens Gardens. The street from our window.

Below. Louis pictured on Conga with Sam on Drums … RIP. Another good friend who died.

Above. A Track.

Above. Beloved Llew Gittens. RIP. Below 1966 with John Hoppy Hopkins RIP

I hope. I hope. I hope.

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