I took my barrow out alone, a trial run, just me and my smile, on the front line.
Although my experience of Hackney over the years has been mostly friendly, it felt like quite a challenge to put it to the test.
Thank you to the people who dared to follow their curiosity and talk to me! I was surprised and delighted by a myriad of small but vital conversations. I was encouraged by the man who on discussing my barrow or “hub of friendliness” said, “oh I see, it’s a portal”.
Some came to investigate, “attracted by the colour”, I felt moved by the person who said, “how charming, it’s made me feel better already.” On debating the question of Hackney’s friendliness to one man, I said, “I think you’ve got a big smile and you get a lot of friendliness out of people.” He said, “I do, as it ‘appens”.
The dark underbelly of the urban city was present too, in the man who muttered, “No it isn’t, I was stabbed last week.” All the more need to foster our threads of community spirit, in a fractured world.