Monday, 12 July 2021

Sunday 11th July 2021 8pm Italy v England at Wembley Stadium.


The game ended 1-1 after full time, followed by 30 minutes’ extra time that kept the score at 1-1. So penalties followed

The final score 1-1 with Italy winning 3-2 on penalties. Those bald facts disguise so much. As the years and decades role on the facts above will  be the most that a Google search will reveal. Statisticians will see those facts in a  chart of other finals, other scores and other nations names and will draw conclusions of a statistical kind. What they will have lost is what the game meant to me to you, to England, to the UK to our mood , our hopes and our aspirations.

When Marilyn and I woke this morning we switched on the radio to listen to BBC radio 4 news and it was full of heart searching comments  about the match.  Nick Robinson the presenter had a sombre tone.

The whole nation, if they couldn’t be at Wembley among the 60,000 fans permitted into the vast arena of Wembley Stadium  were either watching the game on TV at home, in pubs, clubs, city centres throughout the country or maybe Trafalgar Square with giant screens showing the game to excited crowds. 

Was the game going to relieve the depression of coronavirus and  lockdown? 

The national anthems of Italy and England took their turn to be played and sung.  60000 sang God Save The Queen.

The two teams took the knee at the start of the match in respect for Black Lives Matter. There are things more important than football. A buzz of expectation and then ”Sweet Caroline,” rang round the ground, a whole mass of impromptu choristers belting it out at lung bursting intensity. The atmosphere was electric. I could feel the emotion and the tension coming out of the television screen.

The captains exchanged flags at the centre spot. A close up of Giovanni Di Lorenzo the Italian right back hands in prayer eyes to heaven . Rather obtusely a remote control model car painted in LGBT rainbow colours delivered the ball to the centre spot.

The referee in pink. The Italian team in blue. England wearing all white.

At exactly 8pm the referee blew his whistle and Italy kicked off.

The crowd roared. ENGLAND! ENGLAND! ENGLAND!


A slow, calm, measured start. Italy passed the ball along their defensive back line. England got the ball and also moved at a slow pace passing it around, feeling their way into the game. Italy and England, two prize fighters sizing each other up warming to the,” battle,” beginning. A faster tempo takes over.. The crowd hushes, near silence but still a buzz murmurs about the stadium. Maguire gives away a corner to Italy. Maguire clears. He is a dominant confident defender. Harry Kane strides down the right. Crosses it.  The ball arcs over the Italian players and a couple of England players to the left and Luke Shaw gliding swiftly into positon, in one glorious fantastic movement strikes the ball like a bullet from a gun and GOAL!!!! England score! 1-0. What a fantastic goal. The crowd go wild. The England players are euphoric. We, are all euphoric. 2 minutes and 12 seconds into the match and England lead. The Italians looked rocked. England players look elated. The crowd is elated.

After the restart a   cynical tackle by the Italians. England free kick. Is this how it’s going to be?

Shaw challenges Chiesa, the Italian’s mercurial star.  Free kick near the England penalty area. Pickford sorts out the defence. Close up view of England supporters praying.

Insigne shoots high over the bar. Mancini, the Italian manager looks pensive. Gareth Southgate, England’s manager frowns, hands in pockets. Sterling, gets a free kick. Italy are looking unsure, not exactly rattled but searching for a way to play.. England are looking confident. Italy take out Harry Kane . Very physical. Italy are going to play tough its obvious. The game has burst into life. Its all hell for leather.

11 minutes. England cross into the Italian area. Lorenzo puts it out for an England corner, The crowd expects.

13 minutes. Jorginho gives away another corner to England. Italy looking shaken. Not sure how to handle the England team. Struggling to break down England.

16 minutes. Italy beginning to attack more. They seem to have got the measure of England now.This game is far from over. The Italians are trying long range balls up to their attackers missing out the midfield.

Mancini doing a lot of shouting from the side-line. The sound of the crowd buzzes likes waves of rising and falling energy. An elemental force.

20 minutes. Trippier makes a long run through the Italian midfield and defence. He forces a throw in. He takes the throw, a long arcing lob into the Italian penalty area. Its smothered by the Italian defence.

23 minutes. The England defence are looking strong and secure.

27 minutes. Italy looking frustrated again. England seem in control once more.

30 minutes. England free kick  but in our own half. England seem to be controlling the game for the time being. Italy now passing the ball, keeping it but still unable to break down England.. The pace has slowed. The usually well-oiled Ferrari engine of the Italian is unsure, trying to work it out. A spanner in the works perhaps.

35 minutes. Chiesa slices through the England defence and shoots just to the right of the goal. Pickford nowhere near it. England escape. In a counter attack Luke Shaw penetrates the Italian defence. He is playing well. He gets a probing cross into the box. No England players there to finish it. Where was Harry Kane?.

39 minutes. Italy attack. England defence secure, strong, robust, they still  look confident.

40 minutes. Italian free kick. Dangerous. John Stones clears with a header.

44 minutes. Italy attacking strongly at the end of the half but England hold out.

 4 minutes added for extra time. England need to get to half time with a clean sheet.  Italy are  not the force we were all expecting. The crowd roar. “ENGLAND! ENGLAND! ENGLAND!”. John Stone blocks a strike on goal. Italy dangerous all of a sudden.

 47 minutes Now England attack. Shaw and Kane slice through the Italian defence like a hot knife through mozzarella,cheese.. Italy clear. The crowd whistle. A shrieking storm of whistles. Bonucci has a long shot that is easily gathered up by Pickford.The crowd cheer.

49 minutes . The referee blows his whistle for half time. The score 1-0 to England.

Television pundits in the studio.

Gary Lineker, “Half way there folks.”

Alan Shearer, “ England have been absolutely fantastic.”

Alan Shearer.” We didn’t let them settle.”

Jurgen Klinsman on the touch line. “Oh my God, it’s rocking here.”


46 minutes. Both teams are cagy at the start of the second half. England must keep up the tempo. What can Italy do?

46 minutes. Kane taken out by Nicolo Barella.  Italian frustration showing.

Sterling goes down in the Italian area. The referee is in a good positon. No penalty.

49 minutes. Italian free kick on the edge of our penalty area. Lorenzo Insigna takes it. Shoots. Close, but past the post.

England really need a second goal to be secure.

51 minutes. Italy attack. England defence break down the Italians. It goes nowhere. Insigne  is the most dangerous Italian player at the moment.

53 minutes. The Italians make substituions. Imobile off.

55 minutes. England free kick. Luke Shaw takes it.OOOH!! Maguire heads over the bar. Crowd chant. ENGLAND! ENGLAND! ENGLAND!

56 minutes Italy dangerous, getting chances. Italians putting us under a lot of pressure. England need to weather the storm. Italy keep possession. Warning signs for England now. Declan Rice surges forward for England. England defence are playing well frustrating Italy.Chiesa makes a great shot. Pickford dives to his left and makes a great save.

62 minutes. England corner. Stones heads but the ball is guided over by the giant Italian goalkeeper, Donnarumma.. Chiesa is beginning to cause problems for England.

66 minutes. Italy score!!!!!A scramble in the England defence and Bonucci slams the ball into the net from close range. Opportunistic. Television camera lose up of Pickford. He is angry. Gesticulating at his defence. Marco Veratti fouls Maguire. Free kick.

There is an uneasy feeling around Wembley. Italy have started to  enforce their authority on the game. What is going to happen next? Italy now are attacking strongly. They have been revitalised. They have the bit between their teeth. England have not dominated at all in the second half. They have stopped playing. Shaken by the Italian goal.

70 minutes. Saka on for Trippier.

Gary Lineker commentating in the TV studio.” Must be a shift in formation now. Perhaps a 4-3-3 formation?”

72 minutes. England need to get back on the front foot.

73 minutes. Benucci gets contact on a crossed ball. Very close.

Henderson is now on. Italy are breaking through at will. England on the ropes.


75 minutes. England seem to have lost their way. Need to be brave, Need to press higher. In their own half too much at the moment.


Veratti fouls Maguire . Free kick.

The Italians seem to be all over the England players.

Camera looks at the England crowd. Praying, hands together, concerned faces. The Italians look lively on the attack. England worried, desperate.

Italian attack swiftly. England look worried, desperate.

80 minutes.  England must move up a gear. Worrying times. England fans tense, subdued.

Chiesa injured on the sideline. Chiesa takes to the field again. He is one Italy’s best forwards. We could have done with him staying off.

83 minutes. England with a chance. We are attacking, pressing again. England have suddenly come to life. We can HOPE!! Insigna fouled Trippier. Yellow card. England free kick. Cleared. Shaw shoots too high.

85 minutes. Chiesa off. Bernardessi on. Chiesa must have been more badly injured before than he thought, than we thought.

86 minutes still 1-1. England supporters sing out. “Football’s coming home.” I wonder. Is it?

88 minutes. Great attack from Sterling. It takes a few Italian defenders to stop him.He’s like an electric eel working his way through them.

90 + 6 minutes. Injury time. Sterling attacks again. Gets a free kick in England’s half.

93 minutes. Italy stalking England. England doing their best to keep them at bay. So tense all around Wembley. Italy playing with fa freshness and a freedom all of a sudden.

95 minutes. Chiellini literally gets Mount by the collar of his shirt and pulls him to the ground.  Mount was about to break free on the attack. Cynical, calculated. Chiellini is yellow carded. A professional foul.

96 minutes. The referee blows his whistle for full time. Its 1-1 with Italy on the up.

30 minutes extra time to be played.

Both team squads get into their respective close circles. Mancini in the middle of the Italian players. Southgate crouches forward, hunched , tense in the middle of the England players. He looks impassioned, resolute, determined driving home his points to the team.

. The whistle goes for the start of  extra time. “COME ON ENGLAND!!” Belloti comes on for Insigne.

Southgate has made no changes so far.

Emerson blocks Henderson.

5 minutes. Sterling attacks down the wing and earns an England corner.

5.54 Varrati off Locatelli on. Mancini is making the changes.

The ball comes  to the edge of the area and Phillps has a shot. He pulls it wide to the left of the post.

8.47 Jason Mount off. Jack Grealish on. Can HE do anything?

Grealish and Saka attack the Italian defence slicing through but take the ball too far, between them, for a goal kick.

11.34 England must attack. Italy nearly score but the England defence  scrambled the ball away.

13.29. Worrying moments.

15 minutes +1 Italy still on the attack. Hand ball. England free kick. Luke Shaw to take. Shoots wide.

Half Time in extra time.Whistle blows. Exhausting emotionally for us who watch and those who play. The England team must be shattered. Unbelievable.

16 minutes. Are Italy playing for penalties? The nightmare approaches.

England must remain positive.

3 minutes to go. Sancho and Rashford on. Henederson and Walker replaced. Is this in preparation for penalties? Why do England do this?

28 minutes. Italy are playing for penalties now surely.  Italian corner. That was close.

34 minutes gone. Referee blows his whistle. It ends at 1-1.


OH NO!!!

Penalties: Italy won the penalty shoot out. 3-2.

Did England lack creativity throughout the game? If they did, so did Italy. But what is it about the psychology of England players, maybe there is something particular about English football, maybe our national psyche that prevents us, always, from winning penalty shoot outs? What does taking a penalty make an England player feel in this high pressured emotive moment?

Marilyn , at the start of the match wondered if the black players like Rashford and Saka would face abuse online. It has proved so. They both missed penalties but the cruellest abuse is that meted out to  Bukayo Saka merely 19 years old. He missed the deciding penalty. He is a  teenager for goodness sake!. It is appalling that he or anybody should suffer racial abuse. It will stay with him for the rest of his life. What does abuse say about us as a country as people of one nation?


The radio 4 discussion, Marilyn and I lay in bed listening to this morning. with Nick Robinson about the game was tinged with disgust at the  terrible racist abuse online after the match targeted against Marcus Rashford  and Bukayo Saka.

 We are all being asked to behave responsibly when lockdown and all restrictions are removed from our lives from the 19th July.Personal responsibility is very important, we are all individuals and have to make balanced  decisions about our lives. But it appears personal responsibility has a nasty side. Racist abuse is prominent it seems. Boris Johnson, Pretti Patel and other Conservative ministers rebuke those who take the knee in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. They don’tsee the point. Our government does not understand societies response to the statues of colonialists and slave owners that dot our country. They deny systemic racism exists in Britain. Are they therefore responsible for racists feeling they can abuse the black players? Responsibility should come with understanding and balance with regard to others. Are we as a society capable of that? The,” libertarians,” have pushed for an opening up of society from the coronavirus lockdowns. They get their wish from the 19th July. In the light of disgusting responses to our defeat in the Euros are some people incapable of being trusted to do the right thing though?

Saturday, 24 April 2021

What should we do to help children recover after lockdown?


The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE was appointed Secretary of State for Education on 24 July 2019.

On Monday 8th March all school children in Britain returned to school. Over the last year most had to stay at home. Only those children who  are deemed vulnerable, for whatever reason, poverty, neglect, abuse, or whose parents are key workers, were permitted to be in school during the period of lockdown. During my morning run, that often takes me along Grand Drive past St John Fisher School and, also through the Sir Joseph Hood Playing fields past Green Lane School, I  noticed children on the playgrounds or playing fields doing sport. They numbered twenty or thirty children. That is equivalent to one whole class. I know this is not a very accurate assessment of the numbers of children in school over the lockdown period but it gives an impression of the numbers there were in each school during that period.

Gavin Williamson , the education secretary, has recently announced possible measures to help children catch up since returning to school. He has suggested, among other things, longer schooldays, a five term year creating shorter holiday periods, discipline hubs and strict discipline codes to counteract the deterioration in behaviour he thinks will take place because children have been at home during lockdown. Children will explode into the corridors and classrooms of Britain won't they Gavin?. What makes Gavin not think that children will be so desperate to get back to school and see their friends and do exciting things in their lessons they will be  better behaved than they were before? I see every reason why they will be better behaved. I have my theories about this government during this pandemic. They seem to have brought in measures in different areas of government which they say is because of the covid pandemic but I strongly suspect are to do with policies which they had planned for some time but deemed unpopular but under lockdown they can introduce them quickly with the excuse they are necessary. A very sneaky way to bring in Conservative right wing policies no doubt.

Many fortunate children have been able to access online learning provided by their teachers at their own school through internet links. Teachers have worked hard creating online content. The BBC has done sterling work creating and broadcasting entertaining  and helpful screened lessons for all age groups covering all subjects. Many children have the technology, laptops, TVs, internet connections and smart phones. There were those, a significant minority, who did not have access to this online learning. I read of teachers delivering  work to children in their homes and then returning a week later to collect the work carried out. Many children are living in abject conditions of poverty that created conditions whereby even this personal service was difficult or impossible  for them to take advantage of properly.

The head of OFSTED Amanda Spielman, commenting on Gavin Williamson’s suggestions diplomatically said that ,"we need to go by the evidence."

It was interesting lately when the Chief Constable of Merseyside retired recently he made a statement  saying that if he was given £3 billion pounds he would use 20% to improve the police force and 80% to deal with poverty in his region. He thought poverty was the biggest factor in crime. If people had jobs and decent living accommodation they  would not turn to crime. This of course applies directly to education too. If you deal with poverty then the educational outcomes for many would immediately improve.

The online learning I have seen the BBC presenting has been of a high standard but no matter how good the online learning provided is, it can never be able to replace face to face teaching in a classroom. To learn , to be inspired, to be able to make mistakes and try again, to be wowed, to develop as a person you and I and all children need face to face interactions and children need it in a classroom with friends around them.  Personal interactions, empathy, understanding and face to face teaching which can immediately take into account misunderstandings or different aspects that arise  is really needed.

Sadly I don’t actually remember many inspiring teachers when I was at junior school. I remember rote learning and draconian punishments such as a rap on the knuckles with a ruler  and austere penalties for getting things wrong. That may have been due to the time I was at junior school during the 1950s. It could also have been due to the traditional type of person who was regarded as the right sort to be a teacher in the school I attended. From the 1950s, a revolution in teaching was taking place based on the work of  child psychologists such as Jean Piaget and his  cognitive developmental theories and  in Britain, Baroness Plowden  published her report on education in 1967. Plowden had  researched the best learning practices  in schools in the years before the report was published. These two, among others, such as Montessorri and her child centred educational techniques and Vygotskys theories lead to all schools taking up some form of  child centred education. Progress is never an immediate thing though and new ideas take a long time to be taken up by the mainstream.

By the time I was 11 years old, in 1963, I had arrived in secondary school. Things were a little different. I no longer felt quite so crushed by an inferiority complex and lack of confidence and belief. Was that to do with the teaching I had received up to then? I met a teacher who came from Liverpool. He had a Liverpool accent and had a wry sense of humour. I remember still feeling a little fearful but I was mesmerised by his cheeky approach to us as a class. He was a breath of fresh air.  He taught maths and made it fun. Ok, he still had a teaching  technique that lacked exploration on the part of pupils. His approach was more show and copy than experiment and problem solve, but it was delivered in an entertaining way. As I got older another teacher, our art teacher, actually told me once I had painted a great oil painting. I think it was some trees, bushes and a sky and I myself wasn’t at all sure it was any good but the art teacher thought it was good. Those two teachers stand out especially for me.  Fun and praise, those two things made me feel good.Teaching and learning should be about excitement, exploration, a passion to learn and progress and have those two elements of fun and praise  as well. Learning should make pupils ,”feel good,” I think.

I was a teacher for about forty years. I found teaching hard. If anybody tells you any different they are lying, but it totally absorbed me. It challenged me every day. From creating that close relationship with every child in my class to finding innovative and exciting ways to enable children to learn, to make it child centred so the child actually felt the learning was about them as an individual, giving the children the tools to solve problems, to be imaginative, to make things, to be challenged and enjoy the whole process. No it wasn’t easy, but doing it like that  was absolutely right and necessary.

One child I had in my class one year was struggling with most things but one day we were all outside on the playing fields just outside our classroom , all of us looking at the clouds and an occasional jet airliner taking off from Heathrow Airport nearby. It was an English lesson.As a class we were thinking of words to describe what we were looking at. This child, who was struggling, Robbie, stood next to me and he said,

“Mr Grant, that sky is so deep its like looking at infinity.”

“Wow Robbie, that’s brilliant! I love those words.”

 When we got back into the classroom Robbie wrote a poem , only four lines long about the sky including the words he had thought of. I praised him so much. I remember feeling excited for Robbie. For the rest of the year Robbie was so keen and looking forward to every English lesson.

Mr Williamson wants longer school days. He wants a draconian discipline policy. He wants five terms in the year. Mr Williamson doesn’t know anything about the teaching and learning process. Longer days, more terms, stricter discipline really is not the way to go Mr Williamson. Discipline comes from close personal relationships, a belief in yourself and a desire to learn. It comes from feeling valued and being encouraged.  “Catching up,” is not about  longer days . A spark of inspiration, a sudden triggered love of something is all that is needed. Everything else follows.If Mr Williamson is worried about the children not covering every part of his precious national curriculum then he shouldn’t be. The curriculum is not education. Love, empathy, inspiration, the right sort of challenges are what is needed. Your ideas, Mr Williamson, will tire and wear out teachers and pupils and make all those important elements of teaching and learning much harder to achieve.

The first thing children need when they all get back into their classes is to say hello to their friends, be able to talk about their experiences, laugh and enjoy the moment. Leave it to the teachers to reignite the love of learning. That is all that counts.




Friday, 18 December 2020



The Rio Tape Slide Archive in the  1980s

In 2017, Tamara Stoll and Andrew Woodyatt were introduced to Andrew Denney who, together with publisher and designer Max Leonard digitised all the pictures in this book and many more and some wrote essays about aspects of the Rio Tape Slide News Group (RTSNG) and also got people to contribute their memories and thoughts. . They met Sandra Hooper, who had been part of the RTSNG and began their exploration of and research into the archives discovered in the basement of the Rio Cinema on the Kingsland Road in Dalston. The RTSNG itself had originated from ideas inculcated at the CENTREPRISE BOOKSHOP which in its turn took its lead from the HackneyEducation Institute.T hey interviewed people who were part of the RTSNG also actually interviewing some of the people shown in some of these photographs from the 1980s.

This is a book about local people and the power and abilities they can utilise and wield as a local community, standing up to injustices brought upon them by the government of the day, through police actions and government policies. The book is about personal belief, finding talents they would never have otherwise discovered within themselves, building confidence and showing the world that they have a voice and can be proactive and carry out actions which are beneficial not only to themselves as individuals but the community as a whole. Ultimately these people and their actions portrayed in this book show that supposedly ordinary poor people are as strong and can be as powerful as any so called elite.

Three young men in hackney in the 1980s.Solidarity.

If anything this book and all the things it represents, local community action, local issues and its links to national issues and international issues,  provides a fantastic example of what a community can do together. The important aspect is, indeed, doing things together. A community can do so much more than an individual can. This book represents a great example of community action. We need more of it now, in this present time of crisis more than ever. We must  fight against all the top down rules and restrictions that are being forced on us by government during this COVID 19 pandemic. The more and more centralised government, organised from Downing Street, tells us what to do the more  individuals are crushed and broken. It would be very interesting to find out, if ,like good child centred  teaching practice , our governance could grow from the individual first, leading to community action based on community needs. The government would then take a lead from the local level. We might discover that we could deal with this pandemic much better  at a granular level.

So after thirty years of being hidden in the depths of the RIO cinema basement, the grey filing cabinet with the Rio Tape Slide Newsreel Groups work was rediscovered. Within the book that Alan Denney has put together there are a number of articles by various contributors, including Alan Denney himself. They are printed on yellow paper so by looking along the edges of the closed book it is easy to see where contributing articles are located. Their yellow edges stand out from the white.

Alan Denney provides an article that sets out the influences and theories , philosophical and political, that underlie the RTSNG’s work back in the 1980s. His article starts with a quotation from Allan Sekula “Photography Politics: One 1979,” which encapsulates what the RIO and the RTSNG with ideas instigated at the Centerprise Bookshop, were doing.

“I’m arguing for an art that documents monopoly capitalism’s inability to deliver the conditions for a fully human life.”

Centreprise the radical local bookshop in Hackney from which so many ideas and radical actions emanated.

The RTSNG emerged from a counterculture in the 1960s. Young people wanted to change society from below, the grass roots. They were able to organise themselves through the RTSNG project and also education programmes set up across the road from the RIO cinema at the Centerprise Bookshop.

Centerprise was a bookshop on Kingsland High Street that sold books by new radical writers, pamphlets and noticeboards provided information, there were meeting rooms, legal advice was given and classes were held.

Changing society from below based on individual and community needs connects with another philosophy the RTSNG and Centerprise promoted and that was the ideas about education that Ivan Illich promoted, the idea of ,”deschooling.” Ivan Illich published his book "Deschooling Society," in which he describes an educational model where the child chooses what to learn while the adult guides and supports them. Illich thought that traditional education, where children must follow a unique curriculum kills curiosity and creativity, not allowing for the development of soft skills. He promoted what we might call child centred education. That process in our schools today is controlled and guided which is necessary depending on the needs of the child.  Some sort of guidance and skills training is needed even with a ,”deschooling,” policy. From my own experiences, teaching for over forty years, I know that a myriad  of rich experiences need to be provided. Human beings need to interact with the world and need a rich mixture of textures experiences  before they can ask questions and feel the need to explore. They need to be inspired.

People in Hackney at a bus stop.

The RTSNG and Centreprise also used the ideas about engaging with society that Paolo Freire advocated. He thought we should look more at society around us, identify issues and link this to positive action for change.. They also connected with Richard Hoggart and his development of cultura studies and also with Chris Searle who was involved with race relations and social justice. All these elements can be seen in the work of the RIO Tape/Slide Shows work. These ideas naturally grow from the needs of people.

Centerprise, under these influences moved from a more traditional set of adult education classes  for the unemployed to  more radical ideas about the role of education.  such as teaching Black History, Afro Brazilian music lessons, Graphics, which could be used to create posters and signs promoting the activities that went on, working with children and many other culturally and socially literate  courses.

The Hackney Adult Education Institute was a driving force in promoting radical revolutionary education too and instigated and supportedmany of the ideas, Centerprise and the Rio project undertook. The whole movement in Hackney,, if that is the right term, was underpinned by a deep theoretical and grass roots need for action.

The archives include 10,000 glass mounted slides and 2000 frames on film strips from between 1981 to 1988, covering seven years. They were photographed using  SLR cameras on 35mm colour slide film.

The people who took these photographs and created this valuable archive were young unemployed locals . Older members of the community, especially women were involved in other aspects of action in Hackney too becoming news reporters and journalists producing their own newspaper.

The older generation got active in Hackney too.

Many of the radical ideas about the use of photography came from the published works of Jo Spence and Terry Dunnet. Jo Spence used her camera to shoot and expose cultural issues. A new name emerged which described her work and which encapsulates the essence of this sort of photography. She was called  a ,” cultural sniper.”

Tape slide projects had emerged previously in Manchester and in other parts of London, Blackfriars and Paddington. Instructions on how to use this tape slide process were available from these other ventures. The Half Moon Photography Workshops in Bethnal Green and their magazine Camerawork developed ideas about using film and tape. They had a feature article in one of their magazines explaining how to do it.

Members of the RIO Tape Slide group.

Michael Rosen wrote a forward to this book during the Summer of 2020. He was recovering from a near death experience with Covid 19.Which of course itself brings up questions about  an unfair and unequal society which is going to have to be addressed and politicians are going to have to answer for  in the aftermath of the pandemic, but for now we are dealing with the 1980s, the effects of Thatcherism, poverty and community action then. Michael Rosen recalls the time he lived in Hackney during the 1980s and recalls his support for campaigns on educational issues which of course has been his life’s work  through his writing especially his  poetry, children’s books and articles for teachers union magazines such as EDUCATE. He also recalls the vibrant community he was part of and its strength derived from community involvement. He has a fondness and attachment to the people of Hackney although he doesn’t live there anymore.

Derelict buildings in Hackney. Squatters moved in.

The Rio Tape Slide Archive book  starts with an introductory section, “Beginnings,” introducing many of the people who were part of that original project, with  short personal biographies. Here are some comments made by a few of the group.

 Felicity Harvest was the Rio Coordinator. Ramsey Cameron was the film programmer. John Paish the projectionist. Some of those people  whose lives were changed and given a purpose in life include, Sandra Hooper an RTSNG leader. They all provide comments on what they were doing at the time.

Sandra Hooper states,

“ Annette Giles was the instigator- she was the person from Hackney Education Institue (HAEI) … who approached me at Centreprise with a view to creating this new project at the RIO. It came out of the Young Photographers Group and Hackney Unemployed Media Scheme(HUMS) and the RIO was very much a community cinema. At Centreprise. Community involvement was the whole essence of Centreprise”

The RIO, on The Kingsland Road.

Barbara Schulz was an original RTSNG member.

“ I started the Young Photographers and then I became part of HUMS…., making a magazine. Many of us from the group joined Sandra at the RIO and became part of the newsreel group, doing news, taking photos, deciding on what stories we wanted.”

BB was interviewed about her role. (She doesn’t want her name revealed.)

“ At the time I never really wanted to be a photographer. That wasn’t my ambition. I always wanted to be a journalist, even when I was young. But I went to a really duff school……….For me the journalism was why I joined the group. I felt it was about learning a little bit of how to tell other peoples stories…….You felt it had real purpose.”

Dalston in the 1980s.

What comes across in these interviews is the agency these people feel and the opportunities to have a voice and through the RTSNG the group develop a force for change in their community. By recording and writing about what is going on in their community they themselves and others, reading and seeing their work can think about the good and bad things taking place and this gives them the energy to act and do something about it. It makes me feel that all communities, wherever you are, should be creating this grass roots up wards approach to local needs. Is this a political act? Probably, but it is the sort of politics that should be happening everywhere.

The other thing that becomes clear is that these people from poor backgrounds, some thought that they  hadn't had the educational advantages of others, which indeed was true, could act and carry out actions that society as a whole often feel is the work of the privileged who go to public schools and the top universities. The people of Hackney are just as capable of observing and commenting on their own community and are far more engaged in the needs of local people than anybody from a wealthy background and posh education reporting for the TIMES or the TELEGRAPH could possibly be. I think that ordinary working class people could run this country much better than the so called, “POSH elite.” We would all be better off.

A march to stop an extension of the M11 coming through Hackney.

 That opening part of the book also gives an overview of Hackney in the 1980s.

“When the RTSNG first met,  Margeret Thatcher was surfing the wave of success in the polls after the Falklands War……  but the combination of decades of  neglect and Conservative policies were hitting Hackney hard.”

Here are some more important  interviews with people connected to the RTSNG and their memories of life in the 1980s in Hackney.

Evaline Marius (poet, youth and mental health worker RTSNG collaborator)

“It was a very discontented era, with people disillusioned, frustrated, angry.”

Keith Brade.

“I grew up in the 1960’s and there were big changes in terms of immigration into the borough by the 1980s but the fundamentals didn’t really change. It was always a place of, sounds corny, but a place of struggle and violence.”

Guy Farrar photographer and Centreprise worker.

“It was fantastically vibrant, active, a lot of social movements lots of people campaigning for change.”


Some of the RTSNG standing outside of the RIO cinema in Kingsland Road.

A photograph of the RIO  in the early 1980s depicts  red and white stripes down the front of the building and  to one side, red and white colour features with giant black lettering picking out the name RIO. The building certainly stood out from its Victorian, grey London Brick built terraces either side. Enter the RIO and you came across avante garde films, a powerhouse of ideas for the community to get socially engaged, a hub for the local people to express their viewpoints about where they lived and to plan action to bring about change. A place where people could learn how to make their voice heard and where they learned that strength came from group solidarity.

A photograph of five young members of the tape slide group shows them leaning against what looks like a FORD Capri with a white  paint job and a red underside and red wheel hubs.The colours of the RIO. Two of them look at the camera determined and sure of themselves. Another two laugh and chat unconcerned about the photograph being taken. Unemployed youths, given the power to act, given a voice. They are together.

Many of the photographs throughout this book show groups of people. A picture on the front cover, for instance, shows three young men standing outside Dalston Kingsland Station, confident , cheeky looks on their faces. A certain bravura about them, facing the world together. A strong group pf young men in attitude and ambition. Another picture on the front shows a group of happy, vibrant women standing up for the NHS, together, smiles, laughter, determination, placards and strength. There is a certain joy in their collaboration. They are in it together. These three photographs depict powerfully what the  work at the RIO and at Centreprise was doing. It was empowering people.

The government wanted to close some of Hackneys hospitals.


Each section that follows is a,”News Round Up,” for a given year.


The tape slide show review group covered such issues as ,”The Death of Colin Roach,” a young black man killed with a shot gun in the foyer of Stoke Newington Police Station. They wanted to know, what happened. They wanted answers which were not forthcoming from the police.

Government policies were threatening the life of many in Hackney at the time. “The Save Hackney,” campaign was begun.

Four hospitals closed in Hackney during the 1980s. The Rio project covered this Hackney emergency.

There was a protest against the M11 motorway link road that was destined to go through Hackney and destroy its heart.

The GLC funded a lot of cultural organisations which developed in Hackney but spending cuts eventually destroyed these important organisations.

RTSNG was directly funded by Hackney Adult Education Institute and they financed other projects working with older people and minority groups. These all suffered under Tory cuts. One particularly amazing project was the,” Hackney Pensioners Press.”

Julia Bard in The Morning Star wrote about the Hackney Pensioners Press.

 “ What they brought was knowledge of how to get things done, courage derived from a lifetime of political struggle, an understanding of how to work collectively, and a burning anger at injustice.”

Heavy handed police action.

In 1983 the Sandringham Road Police incident was covered by the newsreel group.The police had developed a new tactic using dogs along with the unfair stop and search tactics they were using at the time, which were biased against balck youths and black people generally. The photos taken by the group were used by the local MP in Parliament to highlight the issue.

The Stop the City protest was a demonstration that was targeted at was perceived as the greed of the city and the unfairness and divisions in society.

“One Day In Hackney,” was a newsreel project about showing Hackney to Hackney, shops, parks, streets, housing, working environments and as always groups of people together. Felicity Harvest, who worked at the RIO thought up the idea,

“One Day Off in Hackney, involved forty or fifty people. We gave a film to everybody involved and they went out…”

Youngsters in Hackney.

1984 News Round Up.

During 1984, the first anniversary of Colin Roaches death is membered and the campaign to find out what really happened continued.There was a capign against The Police Bill. There were anti apartheid protest. The Hasbudak family was deprted back to Turkey by the Home Office. The poel of Hackney and the headmistress of the school the Hasbudak children attended got involved. There was The Hackney Women's Peace Camp  campaigning against Greenham Common and the presence of the American nuclear deterrent on British soil went on.

 Greenham Common.

The people campaigning in Hackney for the rights of Hackney people realise that wider issues such as deportations and Greenham Common were all part of the same social and economic  struggle  and so they got involved attacking injustices as a whole.

Saving Hackney, saving the world.

Centreprise as a community hub for action and education reopened in 1984. One Dya Off in hackney was recorded. St leonards Hospital was closed The vibrant life and people of Kingsland Market was featured. The people of Hackney supported the miners strike.

1985 News Round Up.

The work of the group began the year with the second anniversary of Colin Roaches death.. Hackney Book Bus was featured, Music and Dance in hackney was featured. There was a lot of cultural cross overs, South African, Jamaican, sound systems, parties and clubs such as the Four Aces, dance groups and drama groups. Hackney was a vibrant grass roots creative community.

Remembering Colin Roach.

Ridley Market was featured which might have been a source for EastEnders. The AIDS pandemic was researched. Rate Capping became a big issue. The government wanted to restrict the taxes local authorities could charge because they thought they were overspending. This resulted in less services in Hackney and an attack on community action groups such as the RIO and Centreprise. The RIO project looked at Hackney shops and community sports. They really did  try to cover every aspect of Hackney Life.

Ridley Road Market. Some say it was the inspiration for ,"Eastenders."

1986-88 News Round Up.

In the final years of The Rio Tape Slide Newsreel Group the participants didn’t hold back in their campaigning and observational efforts. They covered the Albert Town Butteriled area being demolished and rebuilt for gentrification. Hackney CND group was featured. Hoxton Street Market was covered and life in the area, pubs, the Traveller Community The Hackney Empire and the advertisements put up with the slide shows, for local businesses and trades which many people actually complained about. 

Hackney housing.

Squatting was was an issue and all the housing issues related to squatting, the attitude and actions of the council the views of the squatters and  the underlying need for good housing for local people. The Save Hackney Campaign was bolstered by the release of a hip hop number ,”Fighting for Survival.” The Broadwater Farm protest was covered . Cynthia Jarret died of a heart attack during a police search of her home on the estate. During the ensuing riot PC Keith Blakelock was murdered. Life in Hackney Housing estates was covered. Regeneration of the area, the Dalston Cycle Path Campaign, Green Hackney and  The Great Storm  in October 1987.

Travellers in Hackney.

The Tape Slide Newsreel Group eventually disbanded in 1988.

Ramsey Cameron, who helped with programming the issues the group covered said,

“ As Thatcherism permeated  local government and society the levels of subsidy started to decline…….

There was a decline in community organisation and perhaps a general sense of declining community identity as the gentrification of Hackney started to take hold.”

Flower stall in Hackney Market.

There definitely seems to be a resurgence at the moment in an interest in  Hackney and Dalston. Maybe it is considered a litmus test not only for Black Lives Matter but also what is happening to the poorer sections of our society and also the pressures on immigrants and immigration more broadly? The Rio Tape/Slide book, recalling radical community photography in Hackney in the 1980s  and powerful campaigning groups set up in those years, was published earlier this year. Recently I read a couple of articles in The Guardian about community initiatives in Hackney taking place right now in 2020. The Guardian’s Camera Club Monthly Assignment covered street markets and the Guardians Jill Mead went out and photographed Ridley Road Market for the paper. In The Guardian on Sunday 13th December Lorenzo Vitturi also did a study of Ridley Road. He took pictures but also interviewed people and recorded their viewpoints.

“ I wanted to capture Ridley Road market, its edgy dynamic.”

He set out to record what he called it’s ,”crazy aesthetic.”

The result is a collection of pictures he calls, “ Dalston Anatomy.” Asurreal expression of what he encountered.

“ In Vitturi’s images, surreal organic shapes hang suspended against eye dazzlingly bright backgrounds, human Faces are obliterated by small explosions of chalk and pigment, yams and sugar cane are arranged in creative like organic sculptures.”

Another article is written  by Patrick Bulter this time. They seem to be coming thick and fast about Hackney.

“I was amazed to meet the London teens recording the vivid lives of their streets.” Just like the RIO Tape/Slide Group in fact. This time these youths have been given the impetus by a lady called Donna Travis who has founded, “Future Hackney’s Youth Project.”

The photgraphs and interviews are published on social media. Technology has moved on since the 1980’s and ashould imagine all you need to produce photographs and text is your mobile phone.An outdoor exhibiton of this groups photgraphs ahs benn set up. People walking past in the street can engage with it.

Tapiwa Cronin, 15 yaers of age who is a member of Furute Hackney staes, “ The Ridley Road community is so much part of my daily life, but through learning about its’ history, this workshop truly showed me the enduring importance of the road.”


Donna Travis who set up Future Hackney three years ago, states,

“If you take young people out and get them physically engaged with their community for positive reasons they learn to create pathways for themselves.  It gives confidence, the ability to create their own identity. It widens their horizons, gives them the bigger picture.”

Looking for jobs.

Recapping on what the original RIO project achieved and did for the people of Hackney in the 1980s I would say she is absolutely right about now and also then. The whole thing about The RIO Tape Slide Archives, reveals how people can think about and observe their own circumstances, where they live and what happens to them and then make decisions about what needs to be done. Reading through this book and looking at the photographs a raw energy to fight for your needs and rights leaps off the pages. Hackney has become, once again, a source of political action, its people are getting involved in their surroundings. Anybody who takes a photograph and gets involved in group action can bring change.

This book is an amazing historical document that should and can inspire.


The RIO Tape/Slide Archive ( Radical Community Photography in Hackney in the 1980s) Isola Press London published  October 2020. ISBN 978-0-9954886-6-3

Lorenzo Vitturi: 'I wanted to capture Ridley Road market's edgy dynamic' | Photography | The Guardian

Do go back to Dalston: Ridley Road market's black heritage – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian

Mind the gap: 2 metres apart and masked in Hackney – a photo essay | Art and design | The Guardian

'I was amazed': meet the London teens recording the vivid lives of their streets | Society | The Guardian






Tuesday, 29 September 2020

DATCHET TO MAIDENHEAD: a continuing walk along The Thames Path. (Friday 25th September 2020)


Datchet is located in the south east of the screen shot map. Maidenhead is in the north west part of the  map. We walked on the north bank of The Thames, which is the lower loop of the river shown  where the Thames Path wends its way.

Tony Brown and I continued our Thames Path walk on Friday 25th September. On recent sections of our walk along the Thames we have been getting further away from London into Berkshire. The sections of the Thames we have walked recently, have taken us  from Hampton , near Tony’s home, to Lower Halliford and then on to Chertsey, Egham and Staines. It feels a long time ago we first started walking the Thames Path, beginning at Woolwich Ferry east of London with John Lodge , who has joined us on many of the sections.  Tony and I last walked from Staines to Datchet so Datchet became our starting point for this recent walk. The Thames has many tributaries, islands, loops, locks and  reservoirs and we have enjoyed so many of them, as well as each other’s company.

The Thames Path is a National Trail following the Thames. A path was first proposed in 1948 but it only opened in 1996. The Thames Path's entire length, 184 miles, can be walked and some of it cycled.

Tony Brown beside the Thames at Datchet.

  As each stage of our walk moves further away from London going west into Berkshire, we have to plan carefully how we get to the start of the next part of our walk along the river.  This Friday I got the train from Raynes Park to Hampton. London Freedom Passes ( over 60s and only eligible for those living in a London Borough) are not valid on trains past Hampton. We can use our Freedom Passes on buses all over the country however.  Tony met me at the station. We drove to Datchet and discovered a layby with free parking,   beside the river.  

 The aim of Fridays walk was  to reach Maidenhead.  In the past we have planned short routes of no more than five or six miles along the river and then returned, walking back along our route to the car at the start. This Friday we decided to walk from Datchet to Maidenhead, a  longer walk. To return we thought that we would get the bus back to Datchet. 

Datchet is a lovely place. Until recently I had never been there. Often, driving along the M4 to Wales  I have seen signs branching off the motorway to Datchet but had no idea what was there and what it was like. The centre has   a village green with Georgian and Victorian houses and shops set around it. It feels peaceful and appears to be a very nice place to live with expensive houses set in park like grounds bordering the village and along the banks of the Thames. When you look at the map, you see Datchet beside The Thames but you also notice that the M4 motorway is  north of the village close by and that Heathrow Airport is just a few miles towards the east. Aircraft taking off from Heathrow have risen to a few thousand feet by the time they fly over Datchet but they are still climbing and the sound of their engines wining away is evident.

The centre of Datchet.

One of the features of The Thames along this stretch are the water meadows with reed beds and wooded paths and also extensive fields surrounded by tall hedgerows. It is rural and much farming goes on in the area. That seems to be an anomaly with the closeness of major roads and low flying aircraft and the centre of London not that far away. It appears that the world has passed it by and taken detours around it. Surrounded by this idyllic setting we anticipated a pleasant walk amongst trees and fields beside a sparkling full flowing Thames.

There are many houses beside the Thames  with lawns reaching down to the waters edge. The Thames path encroaches on peoples land in some places. Many of these houses are set in beautifully manicured gardens with shady trees and shrubbery’s bordering smooth green lawns. The houses are often extensive in size and I  imagine in price too. Some are modern and are built on stilts. Some have hydraulic pillars positioned under their foundations. The older houses appear to be built on raised ground with high stone walls fronting  them. Of course all these architectural  features are there to deal with  flooding when the river rises above its banks.

Houses beside the Thames.

Many of the larger islands, called aits, have housing on them too set in idyllic settings. Some of these properties have their own piers at the side of the Thames with luxurious launches and motor yachts moored at them.

Each time we walk the Thames Tony and I see canal boats and sometimes large motorised barges that have been converted into luxurious water born  homes. Many of them have stainless steel chimneys for log burning stoves, small wind turbines and expanses of solar panels. Some have satellite dishes.

A barge home on the Thames.

A little way along the river from Datchet we approached Windsor and crossed over a  stone bridge with iron ornate shields attached to the stone parapets informing us that the Queens commissioners had built the bridge in 1851. The Queen being Queen Victoria. The middle span of the bridge was replaced during the 1960s with a concrete arch, topped with rails on each side, making the bridge look like a poor ill designed hybrid. The two stone ends recall an attractive sturdy bridge of the past. We can only guess its former elegance. Windsor Castle rose above the roof tops of Windsor town to our left.

This was the original part of the bridge before the modern central arch. 

It was interesting to see on the opposite bank of the river the expanse of Windsor Race Course. Neither Tony or I had known such a racecourse existed. The grandstand in the distance looked old in style, perhaps Victorian. We wended our way across meadows and fields called ,”The public fields of Eton College.” It occurred that Eton College must own a lot of the land in the vicinity.

Every so often we came across locks with their gate systems allowing boats to pass from one level of the river to the next. We stopped at Boveney Lock ,  to eat our packed lunches. The weather was mild although the day had begun with some rain . The temperature was  a little lower than of recent, about 17 degrees but the wind was strong. Tony found a spot that was sheltered from the wind at the bottom of the levee bordering the river here, near the lock gates. We drank tea from our flasks and ate our sandwiches and fruit. Locks have been built along the Thames since the 17th century. Boveney Lock was built in the  19th century to help control flooding and to ensure the Thames remained navigable at this point.

Boveney Lock.

We walked on past Dorney Lake that is an Olympic rowing lake used in the London 2012 Olympics. It belongs to Eton College.

On the opposite side of the river, set within rolling lawns and tall trees was a castellated stone built manor house called, Oakley Court. We could see extensive patio areas with large sun shades. Marquees were set up within the grounds. This is an exclusive hotel and spa complex. I Googled Oakley Court later when I got home. A room for the night costs between £400 and £1000 with views over the Thames and the lush meadows and fields surrounding it. The bar is open to casual callers but the restaurant must be booked ahead, especially in these times of Covid 19.

Oakley Court.

We walked on past the fields surrounding Dorney Reach. We could hear the sounds of the M4 motorway in the distance. We approached the massive hulk of the bridge taking the M4 over the Thames. Widening of the motorway is happening at this point so the usual pathway is blocked. Pontoons with non slip surfaced walkways have been constructed, floating on the river under the bridge . We walked under the motorway and saw  the impressive long steal arches that support the bridge and motorway above.

A pontoon passing under the M4 motorway.

Often along the Thames we have come across boatyards. All the various luxurious motor launches and the canal boats and barges need to be taken care of. Their bottoms need to be scraped and renovated. Many of the boatyards appear to be family businesses and by the look of these boatyards and the buildings comprising them they look as though they have been there a long time. I remember , as a child seeing workshops, garages and boatyards in Southampton made from corrugated iron and painted a dirty matt green. Many of the boatyards along the Thames , with their mess of ropes, chains, cranes and rusting buoys have this same timeless feel.

A boatyard on the Thames.

We soon reached the next lock at Bray. The village of Bray on the other side of the river was out of view at this point because a series of aits stretch the length of the river here. One of the  aits is called Monkey Island Estate. The grand white stuccoed mansion on the island is another exclusive hotel. Two famous restaurants are at Bray, The Fat Duck run by Heston Blumenthal and the Roux Brothers’ Waterside Inn.  Bray is famous from the culinary point of view nowadays but much earlier than that ,

In good King Charles’s golden days,
When Loyalty no harm meant;
A Furious High-Church man I was,
And so I gain’d Preferment.
Unto my Flock I daily Preach’d,
Kings are by God appointed,
And Damn’d are those who dare resist,
Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.

And so the Vicar of Bray is remembered. He changed religious allegiance to whoever was on the throne so he could keep his job. The poem actually refers to a number of vicars of Bray from Tudor times when religious allegiances could cost you your head up to  vicars in the 17th century  who were also keen to keep their incumbency. We walked past Bray Lock on the north side of the river.

Bray Lock

From Bray,  we were getting tired by now our legs feeling the effort, we walked on to Maidenhead passing under the elegant Victorian railway viaduct, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and featured in J W Turner’s painting  Rain, Steam and Speed.

Maidenhead Railway viaduct, painted by 
 J W Turner. His painting is called ,"Rain, Steam and Speed."(1844)

On reaching  the road bridge, we walked into the centre of the town. We asked people as we walked along where we could catch a bus back to Windsor. Eventually Tony and I found a bus stop, walking through the market and out the other side of the High Street. We took the number 15 to Windsor. The bus took a rather circuitous route looping past the local hospital, through  a housing estate, all the time  travelling, in apparently, the wrong direction  but eventually it drove on to the centre of Windsor. 

Windsor town and castle.

We alighted near the old town hall designed by Christopher Wren which is also close to the public access to the castle. We waited some  time for a number 10 bus to take us back to Datchet. Windsor to Datchet is not far and this part of the journey took no time at all. 

Before we departed from Datchet, an enticing pub called The Royal Stag overlooking the village green beckoned for a reviving pint of beer. Parts of the Royal Stag date back to 1400. Since the Covid crisis we have not been into many pubs.  A sign instructed us to put on our masks and  wait to be shown to a table. We both have the recent National Health Service Covid 19 app on our phones so we scanned the NHS QR code. This new device will turbo boost track and trace,I hope. There were not many people in the pub and it was not long before  one of the bar staff came and showed us to a table. Sitting at the table we were permitted to remove our masks. There was a good social distance from other people at other tables.  A menu enabled us to order beers. I chose a local brew called Grenadier and a packet of salt a vinegar crisps. We could go to the gents as long as we  put our masks back on. 

Part of Datchet village green.

Tony drove me to the station at Hampton. On the train  I sat back, with my face mask on of course,  and phoned Marilyn. "Can you pick me up at Raynes Park?". I felt knackered.

So the next part of our Thames Path Odyssey  will take us from Maidenhead and on past Cliveden and Cookham, then Marlow and on towards  Henley, both very beautiful historic towns on the Thames. I often get the sense that we are walking through Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in The Willows countryside and Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat comes to mind also.


 Rain, Steam Speed by J W Turner (The Great Western Railway', painted in 1844.)