Once upon a time, there was a park called London Fields. This park was very special. Ley lines criss-crossed it. A plague pit lay underneath it. A dwelling known as the ‘murder house’ faced the park. Two streets of narrow houses, leaning against each other in higgledy piggledy fashion were occupied by squatters; all day people were in and out of each others houses like a punk episode of Coronation Street. The park had everything you could want. A playground. A pub. Trees. Cricket. Tennis. Cycle lanes. And adjacent, Broadway Market, now a fashionable organic farmers market. So far, so normal. But magical happenings occurred in this park. Picnics were extraordinary. Days were longer. Sometimes samba was played. Another day there was an open air cinema where we ate popcorn and watched Italian movies powered by the sun.
Then there was Daft, a tall thin Jewish boy from Western London. He was very very funny and cracked jokes all day, while smoking a similar substance through a hole in a beer can. He never did anything at all around the lido. He explained
“Not everybody CAN buy toilet paper- it’s a known fact”
“Cleanliness is next to impossible”
“Money is a mid-week thing, nobody has it!”
It was very unfair that others expected him to do tawdry chores and the like. Sometimes he stole. He was a dedicated vegan and occasionally waitressed in a local vegan café. From time to time, Daniel would allow Daft to sleep with him. Daft preferred to sleep with Germans if at all possible.
Nobody had any money in the lido. The food was “skipped” (dumpster diving) from Lidl bins and sometimes other supermarkets. Once Emmanuel found 4 bottles of perfect champagne next to a bin. There was always plenty to eat. Finding 40 litres of out of date milk, he made moulds out of tin cans, and lo! fresh cheese. He also used fruit from the apple trees that line Mare Street to make juice in his home-made fruit press. Emmanuel was Pink Block, wearing a pink tutu and flowers in his hair, he loved a party.
One child who visited often with her mother, spent all day riding around and around the pool on a little red tricycle, like a scene from the Shining.
Not so far from the lido, there is an almond tree, a candle factory and a hummus factory (although the ‘skipped’ hummus was a little fizzy). Barbeques were lit inside wheel hubs. Chandeliers were made from bicycle parts. Almost everything you could possibly need can be found within London Fields and everything in the lido was ‘tatted’ (finding things on the street). This was a freegan society. If money was needed, metal would be sold, wire would be stripped, particularly copper (a copper heating tank would fetch about £15), at one of the numerous local scrap metal dealers.
This is a beautiful story…it has the makings of a novel. I think you should write it. You know, it's really weird Kirsten but after my early involvement with Reclaim the streets at Kings X I often wondered what happened in the Hackney lido..and I often heard stories about the parties there..but sadly never went along..otherwise you and I would have met in a different space-time continuum…
Agreed, this is a beautiful story.
This is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read!
Thank you Dazzle!