Dagenham Days: The story continues…

As promised on Twitter this week, I caught up with Scott Redmond, a freelancer writer, who is working on a book about growing up in Dagenham. While researching his family history, he’s discovered quite a few twists and turns along the way, which has been picked up by local newspapers and organisations.

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Scott, last time we caught up with you, you were reminiscing about how our local high street used to be, where has your story taken you now?

My early parts were very much trotting down memory lane, reminiscing and reminding myself of things I should have long since forgotten. Those nostalgic hugs got me thinking about the things from my childhood that never really stacked up, since then it’s been like playing detective in a search for facts.


You’ve been discovering a few twists along the way, without giving too much away, what’s been one of the best?

Discovering several uncles I knew nothing about was pivotal to the story. Delving in to why they’d been erased was never going to give me any Disney answers. One of them was closely linked to the Kray’s I quickly discovered. I also discovered my mum had been on trial at The Old Bailey when she was 17….

Questions

Where are you looking to take your story next?
It’s more a case of where it’s taking me. Being 100 per cent factual each discovery gives me my words.

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You’ve received a lot of local interest, who has got involved so far?
I’ve embraced social media, it’s something I’ve had a love hate relationship over the years. For Dagenham Days it’s been nothing but positive. Via Facebook and Twitter I’ve found various people who shaped my childhood. Only this week I hooked up with the girl next door at 49, I’ve not seen or heard from her for almost 30 years. The Dagenham Post have been supportive, they’ve run two articles so far, each one resulted in residents of Dagenham getting intouch with facts about my mum’s family.

 Your doodles are definitely a talking point on your Facebook page, where do you get your day to day inspiration from for them?

The doodles came about by accident. I needed a map of Dagenham, to highlight areas I have refered to. I tried to find one but in the just doodled one, since then I’ve done over a 100. They help to engage people and compliment chapters that I’ve written. I’ve also done a few doodles for The Made in Dagenham musical gang, they’ve used them on their own social media with surprisingly positive results!

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What’s next for you and the book? Do you have a target date for finishing?

If this was a work of fiction I could tie up the loose ends and write that last line, being factual that’s not a luxury I have, nor want. It was suggested by someone who’s read it all that I split it in to two books, one being the early nostalgic and social history sections, the other being the playing Miss Marple part and looking for facts. It’s an idea but I think it’ll work better in one lot.

What inspired you to write DD in the first place and what has been your most favourite part of the process so far?
There was no eureka moment, I just started writing sections after reading Kath Hardy’s book Secrets My Mother Kept, which is also set in Dagenham albeit in an early era. I love writing, the last seven years I’ve freelanced on motorcycle magazines, having stepped away from that this filled my passion for writing. Researching if, buts and maybes and discovering the truth is the most rewarding part of this process, it helps me understand not just who I am, but who my parents really were!

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To keep up with Scott’s story, you can follow him on Twitter at @DagenhamDays or check out his Facebook page.

 

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Should you put photos of children on social networks?

Okay so before I begin, no I don’t have any children so I may be slightly one-sided in what I have to say. But hear me out; I understand both sides of the debate.

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We share pretty much anything on social media, which is a little frightening to be honest, if you ask me. While it’s a great way to communicate with each other and be nosey of course, there are some things which you should be careful about posting online.

People love to share pictures of their children on Facebook and not only does it give you a great momento for the future, it also allows you to keep friends and family updated about your little ones progress. It’s basically replaced the “Baby’s Firsts” scrapbook.

However, make sure your privacy settings are set to the strongest that they can be and never set your profile picture as a snap of one of your children. For a start, it’s your ‘social page,’ not theirs and do you know how easily it is to obtain images if you have a moderately open profile? There’s all kinds of strange people on the internet, fishing around for things and you wouldn’t want anyone downloading pictures of your kids (however innocent) without you realising, especially if you overshare with everything else. Think carefully about which images you share, for example, first day at school pictures. It’s horrifying but if your settings are not private, you could be providing all sorts of people with information, you wouldn’t want a stranger to know.

Secondly, does every single picture or video need to go on Facebook? Again it’s lovely for family members who live far away but a lot of people could make more use of private platforms such as google docs or drop-box where you can share files with selected people. Like everyone doesn’t want to see countless YouTube videos on their newsfeed, some of us don’t want to be bombarded with pictures of snotty toddlers. Pretty selfish maybe but should people just upload pictures from special occasions instead?

I do understand why people do get snap-happy, you want to capture every moment and show off your offspring to the world. Facebook is of course an online community and it’s always nice to see mothers calling out for advice of other mothers etc, especially in the first few months where everything’s daunting. Plus I can imagine that maternity leave can be quite lonely at times and Facebook gives you a platform to let off some steam.

We also take the instant sharing for granted. When my two youngest cousins were, we never saw them literally hours old. We went to the hospital a day or so after they were born to visit. Social networks ruin the element of surprise; no one is patient anymore, everything is accessible instantly.

From a memory point of view, it is sad that hardly anyone takes disposable pictures anymore and it makes me wonder how long Facebook will be around for? If it ever disappears, what happens to the millions of photos we share on a daily basis? That’s why it’s always important to keep physical memories for your kids as they get older. You can’t beat the nostalgia of looking through a box of old photographs.

So that’s my little two pence worth in on the debate, what do you all think?

Growing up and Quiet Weekends

Saturday night TV is atrocious, I mean, absolutely dire! I really wish I wasn’t able to write about this but as much as I’ve pencilled in things to do for pretty much every weekend up until Christmas, I knew a ‘quiet weekend’ at some point would be inevitable.

At this moment in time, I am entirely unsure whether the quiet weekend has any appeal to me. From a productive point of view, we are redecorating my bedroom (check out my Pinterest mood board here) in the next coming weeks so I’ve had the mammoth task of sifting out rubbish from yesteryears and in the process, have taken a few trips down memory lane, laughed my head off at old photos and notebooks and essentially thrown out an entire Canadian Redwood worth of paper in the form of uni and school notes. Therefore, my biggest decision this weekend has been choosing between Duckegg Blue, Open Air and Cottonfield white paint pots and tomorrow, we will be dismantling the monstrosity that is my FUTON* so yes, absolutely thrilling.

I mean it’s been fun picking out accessories and furnishings to replace the old toot in my room with and of course,  I am excited about having “a grown-up girl’s bed” as my dear friends call it. My shins will be grateful that I will no longer have to climb up a ladder half-cut at 3am after a night out and instead (when I am not having a quiet weekend!) I will fall face-first onto my bed like every normal twenty-something with my coat and shoes still on.

Don’t get me wrong, doing nothing is sometimes nice and I’ve been able to spend time catching up with the family in the sense of a Chinese and dancing in the hallway to the likes of The Smiths, James and Music to Watch the Girls Go By. It’s little moments like that you look back on fondly and just earlier on this evening, I was talking about childhood memories with my cousin of when we used to stay over our grandparents house and the crazy things they used to let us do. Only our grandparents would let us turn their old garage into a summerhouse with our own sofa, TV, fridge and snooker table and let us turn their dining room into a music shop/cafe/editorial newsroom with whatever we decided we wanted to be that day. In that same room, we also put Haribo sweets on the fan as part of our own “Gameshow” and sat under the table at parties, feeding sausage rolls to the dog.

On our last day in Year 11

Taking little trips down to memory lane make you realise how special your childhood and adolescence actually are, even if they contain some of the most embarrassing, awkward times of your life. They feature the memories that have made you the person you are today. Throughout my entire secondary school education, I never put my hand up in class even when I knew the answer and I absolutely hated giving speaking presentations, so much so that I’d literally be hyperventilating. Don’t get me wrong, given the choice now I wouldn’t voluntarily ever give a speech in front of hundreds of people but I’m not afraid of speaking to new people now and I’m no longer afraid of speaking up in a room full of people.

Although I’m not sure whether I like this whole quiet weekend thing, it’s similar to my stance on being grown up or ‘adult’ if you want to choose the more mature term. When you’re young, the only thing you want to be is older but it’s funny that once you’re at uni or in a job with responsibilities, all you want is to be six again and have your mum take your ‘worries’ away with a stroke of your hair. But on the other hand, I love the responsibilities of earning your own money, driving your own car, being able to go out and socialise and the general freedom and independence you get as an adult. No matter how old you are, there will always be troubles and problems but if life was all rainbows and sunshine all the time, we wouldn’t appreciate all of the good things we had as much. I guess in a way, quiet weekends give you time to re-cooperate from a busy week and they make the crazy, busy weekends all that more special rather than a routine. Afterall, life’s about mixing the sugar with the spice.

*Posh word for what essentially is a bunk-bed with a sofa underneath it but regardless, futon yeah?