>We’re having windows fitted, which meant transplanting all my books to the other side of the house. One upside to this chore was finding a drawing book that I thought I’d lost years ago. When we lived in pre-gentrified Bethnal Green back in the 90s, there were a lot of “characters” knocking around, and I’d do my best to sketch them. Be gentle. I did indeed go to art college, but drawing from life was never my best subject.
"Outside the Carpenters Arms, Cheshire Street, playing for the sunday market. Unconvincing ‘old soldier’ outfit made from a bus driver’s cap and bits of a a postman’s uniform. Cap badge and medals made from tin foil "
“The glass collector at the Old George, Bethnal Green Road. The George is known locally as "Kempy’s" after the guv’nor Tommy Kemp, the image of Chas Hodges. The glass collector is a grumpy ex-merchant seaman – and never grumpier than the night we saw him ejecting a group of drunk Russian sailors.”
These are figures from Bethnal Green Road market – the figure at the bottom left was the perma-singing proprietor of the bag stall opposite the Old George. At the first sign of sun he’d whip off his shirt, revealing a large beer gut. The guy on the right was a body builder who I’d see waddling around almost every day. He had muscles in his face.
"Homeless man, clearly mentally ill. Sleeps in bus shelter on Bethnal Green Road. Holds long whispered conversations with his hand and spends his days around the Bagel Shop. Looks almost like a shadow or silhouette"
"Our neighbour, Reg [a lovely old diamond geezer if ever there was one]. He has a broken nose and is very dapper. He was born in a house on the very spot our flats are now on [I seem to remember his house was destroyed in the Blitz while Reg was in the navy]. I’d love to ask him how his nose got flattened"