“Prehistoric man with a herd of animals”


The first people, the first travellors to to cross a continent; a world teeming with wild life. Abel the herdsman, Cain the farmer and city builder. What lifestyle has caused the most destruction?


Limehouse Chinatown Project: The Interviews


The Limehouse Chinatown project was a local history project. It included talking to the Chinese people about their experiences. The difficulty was, they mostly didn’t speak English, so, I got an interpreter to help me. The interviews were conducted at the Chinese Association in Commercial Road, Limehouse.



Years ago, in Limehouse, we had every mortal thing we wanted. Just like Poplar and Wapping, Limehouse had every shop you needed in Grenade Street and Three Colt Street. We had two bakers, two butchers, fish shops, everything, and it was busy the whole time. I remember the fish and chip shop in Broad Street. We’d ask for ‘a ha’penny bit of na’porth’, and mustard pickle on top, and we thought that was marvellous.


In Limehouse, we lived near a farm, believe it or not, and a dairy where they milked the cows. We used to look through the crack and watch them milking the cows. I can remember the smell of Michaelmas daisies, and I think of that garden when I smell them now. I can remember the milkman. He’d let the rainwater fall into the milk to make it go further. You used to go out there with your can, and if you weren’t in, there used to be a hook at the top of your front door, and he’d hook the can on there, galvanised cans.



When I was young, round Limehouse, we wasn’t allowed down Chinatown. West India Dock Road used to be full of Lascars

They had a place near the West India Dock, and they’d go out from there to work in the Dock. As they went back in, they’d always wash their hands and their feet. They used to go up the Lane and buy the old clothes. They wasn’t very tall people.

The Limehouse Causeway was big cobble stones, difficult to walk on. It started at Three Colt Street, and went to Gill Street. It was very narrow, and the roads were always littered with Puckapoo papers. Puckapoo was a Chinese game played in all the shops in the Causeway. Anyone could play. They used to bet sixpence. I only went once. Mrs Payne told me to run and put this bet on. There was a Chinese paper square with all Chinese words on it and they used to mark it with a brush. I got a clout for going. My brother Billy gave it to me.

We used to go in the Chinese Restaurants for our ‘Chang wins’. That’s fried batter with all different pieces in; sage and onions, bits of chickens.

I wanted an Anna May Wong haircut. And the barbers wouldn’t cut it. So, I said, ‘If you don’t give me that cut, I’m going to tell my brother Billy you wouldn’t give me a normal haircut. ‘ And he cut it, the fringe and all. Billy used to go and have a drink in the Railway Pub, and it used to be men only. I opened the door” and I said, ‘Where’s our Billy?’ Peter Ruddock came out. He said, ‘Annie, he’ll kill you when he sees your hair!’ They’re all coming out to have a look at me. And then they told my brother. Directly I see him coming out the little door, I run for me life.


My grandmother used to go gambling down Chinatown. My mother used to hate it, because it always used to be raided by the police. She used to play Puckapoo, rather like bingo. And of course, one particular night it did get raided and that cured her. She didn’t go down again. As a kid, I loved the air of mystery about it. It was exciting, that area. Such tales went round, like stories about the old white slave traffic. They would capture beautiful young girls and they would be whipped off the street and sold into slavery. Or if a girl disappeared, they’d always say. ‘Oh, she’s been sold as a white slave!’

The sailors used to come off the ships and they used to go into Charlie Brown. And they used to spend their money very quickly. Well of course they used to bring all of these things from abroad. Charlie Brown had watches like clocks. They had them all up in his room. He’d buy them from the sailors for next to nothing. There was an old man, the old Chinaman in Pennyfields, old Ching was his name. Every Chinese New Year, he used to buy the English children new shoes because he loved children, he was ever such a good man he was.


My brother Freddie worked outside Browns on the barrels, and they gave him permission to take us in there. We were never normally allowed in. And when you went in, the prostitutes were sitting on the sailors’ laps. It was just like a film. It had a stage and everything. The opium was round the back. And opposite, by the Blue Post pub that was done out lovely in there, that’s all the rich people used to go to look at the antiques — was where the Chinese had a temple. It was beautiful. All the people walked in, and they had a clock run by water. Oh, it was marvellous.

When Charlie Brown died, we all lined West India Docks Road, singing, ‘Poor old Charlie. Blinkin’ dead ‘.

We used to sit up half the night watching all the prostitutes. You’d be surprised, girls who’d come down hcne from up North. They’d never have any shoes. We used to give names to them. ‘No Shoes’, ‘Baby-face’. Now Baby Face was a very rich woman. She come from a very rich family and something must have happened. She had a room in Chinatown on the Causeway. She used to do all her slitting up the other end but she was dressed marvellous. She fetched a little boy down from her home, and she paid for him to go to school, but she didn’t want nothing to do with the family. A very nice person.

When the prostitutes used to get doped up and they couldn’t do nothing them, they used to fetch them along to the police station on boards. They used to have a strap round the middle and a strap for their legs and they’d take them in like that, men and women. We lived right opposite in Limehouse. When my boy was in bed I’d stand on the doorstep with my neighbour chatting. They used to say Limehouse was terrible.


Came by plane, very happy, cannot understand air hostess on plane Kwang Jong from Hong Kong — England. When arrived in airport (Hong Kong) did not know how to change planes. Man helped them to find plane. Waited a long time. Passport control asked a lot of questions, carried lots of Chinese medicine. Alison had flu. Man called Chinese translator, go out with luggage. Grandparents meet, then go to house from airport.

Grandparents came to England first. Parents came to England by boat during Vietnam war. 20 years old when got here, now 21. They clean house, lino and carpet. Don’t like rice, like noodle. Work in Noodle in North London. Parents and grandparents are here. Jenny live new house with grandparents.

Restaurant Washing up. Hong Kong, elderly. Went from China to – worked in Viet Nam, then to England.

May 18th. Chinese from Vietnam 1979-80 to Hong Kong— England refugee camps — Scotland, Yorkshire, Ashford


Lived in Guanantzhou — China. 19. Worked in restaurant. Came 19 years ago here. Husband opened restaurant St. George, London. Husband didn’t want her, he married another. Council translator service at doctors. Rhis area service and government. Mon — Fri comes lunch here (Chinese Association, Limehouse), likes to sing Chinese songs, Beijing opera, Karaoke. 6 years in this area, likes church singing. Husband left, homeless, sleep in wharf, met Japanese. Doesn’t speak English so wrote to Japanese girl who got police, who got her to another house, Red Cross Hostel.

Live in home, got money from there and got illness, mental illness. She want to die, don’t like this country. But her friend takes her back. After few months’ government got house in St. George, (out of London). Very happy all this year. Japanese lady helps employ lawyer, take a picture of her scars and bruises. Last year, June, she use Community, got divorced, no marry again.


80 yrs. old. Been here 19 years ago, before live in concentration camp (Vietnam). Wife died in 1986. When she came to England no job because no – – – buy ship, went to Hong Kong 15 months refugee camp. Job builder. He didn’t want to come to England because fighting between Vietnam – China. Chinese had to leave. Service welfare funds/service system feels better in this country.

Came to England, one English man helped friend (very polite) Brief going 5 yrs. Believes God in England. His children keep up the Chinese tradition. Came this community 11 yrs. ago. Like Chinese festival, dragon dancing. Write poems. Does Tai Chi exercises. Enjoy Chinatown Sat and Sun. Didn’t say what. Enjoy communities Ma Jong, Chinese cards. Meet elderly people to chat on past in Vietnam and future. And before this community celebrates mid-autumn day, moon day festival. October. Like Chinese spring festival, Chinese Valentine’s day festival. And reunion dinner, reunions rice family, all meet together for dinner. Stayed in memories —National Day. Arrived Jan. Cold. Daughter never seen ice, upset her when picked it up (in Yorkshire) here, has a future. Glad England is his country.



The Grenfell Tower Disaster


Please click on the link to see a PDF of the song.

Grenfell lyrics.

Verse 1

The second class citizen gets all the blame
The second class citizen you can’t even name
Holy in the high rise, tied to the stake
Locked in by fire, they needed escape.


There was a time when the classes all mixed
But daddy didn’t like it so he got it fixed.
You can’t see the brick but the walls always there
The poor are the losers, the rich ones don’t care.


Scenes that no-one should witness,
Scenes that no-one should see.
The grave is already in your garden
The torch is shining on your street.



A second class citizen in a Kensington street
A second class citizen they don’t want to meet
As they were burning, did you stand and watch
Is all that you were thinking is what will be the cost.


A second class citizen, who bangs on your door
A second class citizen, who muddies your floor
Asking for justice, their right to be heard
You pulled down your shutters, you locked up your door.


Second class citizens, they cost too much cash
Second class citizens, consigned to the past,
You deny their existance, but we’re all the same,
But you close both your eyes so you can’t see their pain.


An upper class citizen has dinner with a duke
An upper class citizen wants money for a nuke
You whitwash it over, but the anger is true
You let the poor suffer because what can they do?







Not for Sale in the USA

Not for Sale in the USA

Please click on the title to see a PDF of the song

Not for Sale in the USA, lyrics


This sun, this rain, this river; this field, this flower, this hay
This blue, this green, this purple; this white, this green, this grey
This baby, this mother, this father; this cat, this dog, this stray
Not of them are available for sale in the USA

Not for sale, in the USA, not for sale in the USA

This bridge, this house, this painting; this heart, this soul, this mind
This road, this street, this mountain; this family ties that bind
This school, this child, this teacher; this cup, this spoon, this tray
Non of them are available for sale in the USA


This farm, this barn, this tractor; this muscle, this set, these tears
These sheep, this cow, this chicken; these hopes, these dreams, these fears,
This sport, this thought, this culture; this job, this work, this play
No of them are available for sale in the USA



Ordinary People

Ordinary People

Please click on the title to see a PDF of the song.

The Refugee Crisis


Ordinary people who don’t have a life
Ordinary people who don’t have a voice
Leaving Iraq, leaving Iran
Leaving Syria, Afganistan

And they’re coming to Europe
And they’re coming to Europe

Ordinary people who cross land and sea
Ordinary people who want to be free
Escaping guns, escaping bombs
Bread and water, freedom songs

700 people The frightened refugee
700 people who drown in the sea
Fanily photos, left them behind
Fleeing gunmen, step on a mine


Ordinary people, cannot reach their goal
Ordinary people, left in the cold
Water cannon, border control
Those politicians don’t have a soul





I Want to Heal You

i want to heal you

Please click on title to see a PDF of the song sheet


I want to heal you, to take away the pain
I want to heal you, you’ll be happy once again
I love you when you’re happy, I hate it when you’re sad
I hope you will recover from the problems that you’ve had
I want to heal you and I hope you want to heal me too

I want to heal you, to get you on your feet
I want to heal you so you can take your rightful seat
I’m glad when you are working, trying to do your best
I hate it when they hurt you and put you to the treat
I want to heal you and I hope you want to heal me too

I want to heal you, to help you put things right
I want to heal you, to help you win the fight
I love you when you’re free and looking at the sky
I hate it when you’re broken without your human right
I want to heal you and I hope you want to heal me too


The Bombing


In this painting, the adults are moving about like heavy metal rock stars kicking up mayhem on a stage only instead of carrying guitars they are carrying children. This from from a photo in a newspaper of the bombing of a mental hospital during the Lebanese war.

Bloxwich Coal Mine

I grew up on a housing estate near Bloxwich. Not far away from the estate was a disused coal mine with a railway, and a huge slag heap where I used to go exploring, hoping not to get caught by any caretaker. I did a sketch, and I tried to turn it into something to impress the tutors at Walsall School of Art in Goodall street. It did not get any further than sketchbook work


The Miner’s Family

john briscoe from Cannock
John Briscoe from Cannock
Ted Bet and Tone-1.jpg
Tony, Ted and Betty

John Briscoe came from a large mining family and they lived in Cannock. Three of his brothers usually referred to as Ted, Bet and Tone are in this painting. They were sadly born mentally backward as I was always told. They lived in a row of houses I believe was built by the mine owners for their workers. They were old and negleted houses, dark and dusty. Johns father died of cancer, I saw him lieing on his bed in the small living room, I saw him in there, one side of his body was turning blue. John was overcome by grief but could not face it and he got a group of us from Art school to go to Paris with him hoping to forget his troubles, his father died around this time but John was stoical about it. This is not the end of the Briscoe tragedy. His mother died of breast cancer and his three brothers, Ted Bet and Tone had no one to care for them. Once at the bus station in Walsall I saw one of the brothers walking by in the night, angry looking and alone.

John was a brilliant artist. He was the talk of Walsall art school, flambouyant and full of life. His art work was creative and effortlessly brilliant. He could turn his gift for creativity from sculpture to pottery at ease. But he had an accident on e day and stabbed himeself in the eye, and lost his sight in that eye. This fault of all his tradgedy I firmly place on the neglect of the coal mining owners in Cannock who didn’t seem to do anything to help this poor, poor family. There were two other children one Tom Briscoe who got married, and the oldest who I only heard about by heresay.

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