"Open the doors and let the kids play", is what one Mum said to me. She was talking about the 1 O’clock club in Barnard Park but I took it on a metaphorical level. Open the doors and let the kids play, take down the barriers and unleash the little tykes’ creative energies. It seems odd that in one of our precious bits of greenspace (Islington has the least amount of greenspace of any Borough in London) the doors at the 1 o’clock club should remain closed keeping the children inside the little concrete cube with the gossiping women. I’m too intimidated to go in myself, I rely on the hearsay of others. It comes across as a tight cabal of fiercesome grannie-childminders and fag smoking baby-mums spouting Daily Mail headlines.
One source reported a conversation about Mike Leigh’s film ‘Vera Drake’ that went along the lines of "Saw that Vera Drake", "Me too, boring…", "Dreary," "I walked out". The irony being that Leigh has said in his mind the character of Vera Drake lived in Copenhagen Street, the street that runs right past the 1 o’clock club; these lovely ladies could be the real Vera Drakes.
‘Course you’d never find Mike Leigh at the 1 0’clock club, it’s far too working class.
The conversation about getting the doors open literally and metaphorically and ending the club’s status as a free coffee stop for the childless women of the area ignited my political instincts. We were still bathing in the glow of our Sure Start playgroup being taken into the hands of a parent-led management committee and had successfully changed the time of the kids’ morning snack to 11.15. "A coup d’etat", I suggested, "a 1 o’clock club putsch".
"Sing song time". One of the group facilitators rounded us up and soon talk of the march on Barnard Park was drowned out by "Wind the bobbin up, wind the bobbin up….." A song glorifying exploitative piecework labour practices of capitalist mill owners.