The Anchor and Hope: Olympiad & Hackney Marsh

Islington tunnel:  from Mark Wordy’s photo stream

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I’ve been reading Patipada’s book of herself and Osho – Forever is not long enough – and am about to begin the other Osho book I have, it is called A Failed Guru.  But did he fail?  The Osho phenomenon is psychologically rich and fascinating –  he, a charismatic wisdom scholar, let a huge car he was driving, go out of control … for the worst to happen, and for their sadhana to grow.  I like the Osho people, the survivors, the characters, the workers.  O vanished, dissolved, crashed into his devotees, they are the thriving “debris”;  this is a teaching in itself.   I met Patipada in Sedona;  we liked each other (she liked everyone).

The BLISS some neo advaitins have, feels flimsy.  It doesn’t have a strong undercarriage, and it is vulnerable to inflation.  I don’t agree with the anti-ego objective.  We need to know our shape’s subconscious pressure, before we can let it go;  otherwise it knows us too … too well!  Those who subscribe to “no ego” get carried away into strange stuff like sitting ducks.  It is according to temperament and need, but also lovey dovey, and – you know?  The cult of personality gets in through the back door – all the wonderful gurus and each other.   I’ve been in it, and it isn’t my cup of tea.  I know it brings authentic and wonderful interior experiences of no thing-ness.  It is one way … at heart it is Sadhana.  Like any other way, when focused, it bends the Universe’s antennae towards it helpfully.

from  world’s worst camera phone.blogspot

Yesterday – inspired by finding my sketch of the Mrs B’s cycling along the canal – I got out my bike, pumped up the tyres, and rode to the Olympic park along the easterly canal tow-path from Camden Town.   The canal is London’s secret life, it curves through the grid.  It was wonderful!  The Olympic park is just the other side of Victoria Park, where I lay down on the grass for a rest, very wobbly knees – I haven’t ridden anywhere for at least a year.   The Buck House athletes-procession-Flypast formation flew over, on its way – a big noise, an arrow head.

I got to the Lea River and saw the big white stadium and “D’s favourite building” – (the red  corkscrew thing, he hates it) – all behind massive barricades and security cameras  – the park is wrapped in razor wire, and many old lanes and footways are blocked.   You can’t get in without a pass, for God knows how long.  It is strangely like a war – and yet it was an international release and warmth;  I went to soak up the vibes – the thunder and joy of the mass still echoes.  I rode along back stage:  behind the giant viewing screens, and behind the endless ugly admin boxes.  The canal/river snakes along beside it all, with its ineffable old east London character.  The outlook for the residents is a metal barricade – in place of construction site, diggers and waste land.   It takes time.

I haven’t been there for fifteen years or so;  it is all smartened up and getting affluent.  I saw some of the famous wild flowers behind the wire, banked along an access road.   Actually they look strange and not English at all – which of course they aren’t.  They are from the world over, the seeds massed, frozen, migrated and assembled all-together-now.   Their brilliant green foliage glows artificially here.  I wonder what these flowers will do next year – whether they find suitable nitrate fibres to make their home, or whether like the countries, they visit and depart.   The symbol vibrates.   The whole thing is rich to explore inwardly.  I was on the main ring road enclosing the O park – the O park is just a tangle of weird white architecture, steel and wire, with its back to you.

I thought of the people on the long russet paths inside, all summer: a friendship carnival.  The UK’s Libra ascendent was exactly aligned astrologically to the July grand cross.  In summation – for there are so many interior themes – the tension erupted a festival, to which the whole world was invited.

I already rode through a dense wood while route finding:  I took off from there along the Lea River proper, over the huge Hackney Marshes.  The river winds through tall plane and oak trees and many feathery young plantations.  The spaces filled with sky are huge and blowy, and there are playing fields.  This part is all old and the O park will gradually soften into it.   I got out my phone to see the time, and thought of D:  on cue he pinged a text “just to say i love you x.”   So I told him where I was.  Fantastic!  he said.  Riding a mile further north in the woody breeze – big silver tossed sky – I looked back and saw the stadium and the corkscrew in strangely rural setting.   I followed the river to where it becomes a canal/towpath again, and had an ale and bite-you-back crisps in a pub which was NOT the one I was looking for.   The one I was looking for (a second ale and old fashioned crisps) was further up the bank of the Lea River – an utterly other London universe where the picturesque housing tide comes to a sudden end on the water.

The pub/cottage is STILL THERE!  How did it survive the chain-saws?   It is called The Anchor and Hope.  It is patronized by desperate 1970s hippies like myself, who got left behind by the clock. We trickle out of the shabby waterfront bar and sit along the terrace in a convalescent way.  I remember those erratic old afternoons …  glass after glass of melancholic intensity.   All I can manage now is half a pint.  The wrinkly hobbit in shorts, pulling pints has a long pink nose, and is the weirdest and wispiest of us all.  Here on our backwater vessel, we scull slow dreamy circles, while the rough old world goes by.   On the water, communes of old boats and barges are moored in zig zag fashion;  a steep little street slides down to the edge from Stoke Newington in London somewhere:  the place is an asylum.

From there, I rode on another mile or two, past a leafy frum park, and finally turned back into London at Tottenham Hale for the long ride home.  Tottenham is where the enormous Lea reservoirs begin.  The tow path goes on and on alongside them, far up north.

The 2011 riots began in Tottenham.  I think I rode through the place.  I saw burns.  It is ironic that such a teemingly colourful district is in reality deprived, hungry, bored and angry.   Visiting life is not the same as living it.

Very tired by now … the long haul through Turnpike Lane and Hornsey, and pushing up Muswell Hill:  then left along the high old disused-railway path, from which you see, as from a balcony, the whole of east London … in the distance,  the stadium’s white spikes and festive corkscrew.  It is astonishing to cover the labyrinth, ant-like on my wheels.   Then Highgate, Kenwood, Whitestone Pond – London’s highest point – and downhill home, getting dark.

In earlier times, Hackney marshes had a heavy, neglected horizon.  It felt down and out and druggy.  Today the same is enlivened;  a current of regeneration flows subtly through it.   The Olympics were built on a poisoned chalice in the south.  All that toxic topsoil, derelict factories and electronic waste was peeled off, sieved, cleansed, put back and rebuilt into a cup of hope.  It is very new, and stiffly guarded.  But an elixir of life and interest now flows where the vein was blocked, and time will soften the edges and open it up to the wetlands.   I saw many ducks, swans and a weary heron.  A falcon hovered.

Poet & his daughter


1968 jazz



This charcoal drawing was done in1964, to The Kinks’ song “You Really Got me”.  




My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

4 thoughts on “The Anchor and Hope: Olympiad & Hackney Marsh

  1. I rode along with you Jane and enjoyed every twist and turn along the way . Was very happy to arrive at 2The Anchor and Hope” though . Here I felt more at home !
    The drawings are wonderful and I totally love The Charcoal drawing . It exudes character and happiness .

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