East London, 23rd of May

I find it quite challenging to write a diary like this, I haven’t done it in years. My head goes into narrator mode and then everything I write feels unnatural. I was thinking about this the last few days. I also have a really bad memory though, so writing things down is pretty useful. Here goes…

Today was the day of the European Elections and the political scene right now is pretty crazy. The most popular party is called The Brexit Party (they only formed one month ago) and their only policy is wanting to leave the EU. So they’re running in an election in order to be elected to a governing body they want the UK to then leave. This party scares me, the leader has links to Trump and far-right groups, but they’ve re-branded for this election with slick imagery and a multi-cultural somewhat liberal look. I voted Labour.

On the way to the polling station (where people vote) a local school was practising archery. There was a sign stuck to a chair at the entrance to the park which read “Danger – Archery in Progress”.

I live in an area of East London called Newham which is in the process of wide scale development. It’s part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympics which were hosted round the corner here. The London Legacy Development Corporation has been given power over local councils (市議会) to develop an area crossing several London boroughs (市). They’re guilty of evicting local residents and leaving whole blocks empty long-term (waiting for development) when affordable housing is needed and homelessness is at record highs in these boroughs. The polling station was in the basement of a tower block.

After voting I got the bus to a school in a neighbouring borough (Tower Hamlets) where I teach music. One of my students asked how much money I earn. I’d had questions like this (about money and job status) before from one of the others (both teenage boys) and ended up giving a rubbish answer. I wanted to be better prepared this time. I said something about that being none of his business, then tried to explain that money wasn’t the main thing about a job, it is important to do something you enjoy too blah blah blah. I was also disappointed with this answer…. Try better next time. Lot’s of the students are fasting (断食) for the yearly Islamic observance of Ramadan this month which involves not eating or drinking anything while the sun is up (for a whole month). A different student (who is a really wild 13 year old who can’t concentrate for more than 10 seconds) explained to me how it’s about mindfulness and understanding others who have less. We had to check it was ok for him to play the saxophone while fasting, because you put it in your mouth. I few other students are massive K-pop fans and one has read loads of Japanese manga. I have to pretend I haven’t read *all* of the ones he mentions just so I can keep some teacher qualities.

I had Lamb Biryani and Lentil Dahl for dinner at a small Bengali restaurant.

In the evening I helped run a meeting for organizers at a festival happening in June called AntiUniversity. I was supposed to help give everyone a chance to speak and listen to each others event ideas. It went fine, but more people kept arriving late and it went on way to long, everyone got pretty tired by the end. A confrontation between two different factions of ecology activists nearly kicked off. Think it went as well as can be expected though.

On the bus home a guy in his mid 30s called Michael Clarke started talking to me. He was drunk and happy because of a film he wants to make just got permission to use a script. He was crying and talking a lot. In the end we found out we come from the exact same village far from London in the North of England. I was a bit too tired to be talking with a happy crying drunk man though… So I escaped when we transferred to the train.

I’m actually finishing this off in the morning after the 23rd (sorry for the late upload). It’s sunny and warm, very nice temperature, bright blue sky. I’ve been re-reading Real by Takehiko Inoue the last few days too, what a class manga.