This is such a sweet little book. Although once you read it cover to cover you’ll realise it’s not sweet at all. It’s bloody good East London art and poetry. I was really lucky to get a copy from the first run of 50. Copy number three even. Katya sent it with a little bar of Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate. It didn’t last long. I never realised it was crunchy. I think I’ll buy some for Kevin.
The book. Even though we live in North West London we spend a large portion of our lives in East London. For one our little flat is in Dalston, even though as a family of four with two cats we obviously don’t live there because it’s a one bedroom flat with no garden. Secondly, the girls go to school on the Hackney borders. Cross the street and it’s Hackney. And it’s definitely not posh Islington. Most parents cycle in from the North East. And we spend most of our weekends out that way too. We buy our vegetables in Newington Green. Wine from Bottle Apostle and meat from Ginger Pig in Victoria Park. Our garden is becoming quite the New Zealand landscape job with bargain plants from Columbia Road, and after Columbia Road we always head over to Violet in Wilton Way for cupcakes.
So you see, we feel like we’re part East London at least, so when I saw this book had been published I asked Katya if I could buy an early copy from her to review. She very kindly sent me this with aforementioned chocolate and I have just spent an hour reading, laughing, frowning and feeling moved by some beautiful poetry and short stories.
Soundbites by Rebecca Valentine are very funny snippets of overheard conversations in cafes. Yummy mummies who met at yoga eating cous cous and halloumi with oversized buggies to park in cafés. John Bedwell’s moody art poetry pulls at my heart and makes me want to smash windows and pull down the ceilings and damn that melancholy dawn damn you damn you let me soar.
Katya’s photography sits alongside each illustrated café, a spread for each – a great mix of styles. Which one do you like? They are all great. A big mixup. The cafés, the people, the artists, writers, photographer. Ah East London you are so brilliant and so alive and so wonderfully great. You and your coffee. You and your breakfasts. You and your lively, slow, bitter, moody, creative, joyous sunrise mornings.