Proper Hackney

Today I felt some trepidation about what I would encounter. My journey down the Narrow Way began with the support of a good friend. She explained the ‘80/20 Rule’ to me. “80% of people are going to be nice, but 20% give you flak. The problem is that the 20% take up 80% of your head space.” What I actually encountered was more like 98/2.

Hackney opened its heart and gave so generously that I feel greatly enriched. Any preconceptions or assumptions about what people might be like fall away, and I am honoured with wise words, insights, compassion and above all friendliness. “You have to open a book to see what’s inside,” one visitor reminded me, returning to continue last week’s conversation.

The project reflects back the incredible openness and tolerance of so many people here. Although someone said, “It certainly brings a smile to Hackney,” the project just mirrors back the broad smile that is already here.

Someone who began the weekend on Thursday night tried to persuade someone chatting at the cart to pierce his nipple with an ‘I Love Hackney’ badge. Thankfully he resisted.

I met a happily retired woman who shared her joy at being in a relationship for 50 years, a great grandmother, and enjoying simple pleasures like reading or sitting in the garden. I shared many conversations and found enthusiasm and recognition from an amazing mix of people. “We need things that bring people together”, said one.

My respect goes to one urban shaman, (in communion with the animal kingdom), who welcomed me. “Love conquers all”, said he, and reminded me that “You got to learn to love”. I am learning from the people on the street the friendliness of “Proper Hackney”.

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