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Come Saturday morning

by Brenda Dayne on April 24, 2010

Last week at this time I was on a bus, traveling from Hackney to Barking, an area of London I’ve never visited before. Barking is a rather odd little place, about as far east from the center of the city as it is possible to live, and still call yourself a Londoner. I was in Barking to assist my friend, Katie, and about five hundred other committed souls (plus our fifty from Hackney), with a process known as “leafleting.”

Leafleting is an incredibly easy, if somewhat messy job that involves walking through someone else’s neighborhood, and sticking something which they didn’t ask to read through the mail slot of their door. It’s a dirty job but, especially in this case, someone had to do it, and that someone was me.

The leaflets in question were eight page newsprinted papers denouncing, quite rightly, a far right political party known as the British National Party, or BNP. And just who are the BNP? Well you may ask. They’re the party who would like to return Britain to its all-white roots, by kicking out everyone in the country who was not born here. They would like white people to be given first priority in housing, jobs and education. They would very much like to outlaw mixed race marriages. They are, in short, racist nutbars, and I am happy to say that they are a very small minority party here in Britain. Except in Barking, where they actually have a very real chance of gaining control of a council and getting their hands on a £200,000+ annual budget. And that would be bad. Which is why I spent a beautiful Saturday morning in London getting my hands dirty for the cause.

I haven’t forgotten my promise to share the best damned passport photo I’ve ever taken, and full details of where you can go to get one too, if you’re so inclined. I will do that, as soon I’ve scanned the image and can share it with you. Plus the Kinkos version from last time, so you can compare the two. That will have to wait for Monday, however, as I’ve a few fibery things on the go at present and am just itching to get back to them.

Last year I scored a number of cones of Welsh wool singles from the Wool Museum. The folks at the museum are trying to get a yarn spinning operation off the ground there, using all the old machinery and actual Welsh wool. It’s early days yet, but the last time I visited, Keith gave me some cones to bring home and try out. They’ve been sitting for months, and this week I made the time to ply it up as slightly-lighter-than-Aran triples. The stuff was covered in machine oil, and lanolin, and took some serious scouring to get clean. The last batch of newly plied yarn is in the sink, as I type.

It’s a fairly coarse wool, not really soft enough for next to skin wear, but I’ve got about 800 grams of finished yarn, more or less, and it will make a nice top down raglan cardigan someday. Since I didn’t spin this stuff, I only plied it, I’m totally not attached, making it the perfect yarn on which to experiment with a little natural dyeing. I’ve been saving onion skins for over a year, and today’s the day.

The skins are simmering away on the stove, but I don’t have enough of them to dye the entire stash of newly plied wool. However, I did notice today that there are a lot of bracken fiddle heads in my garden, which means there are plenty more to be had in the woods.

Other than leafleting for a good cause, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than gearing up for a spate of natural dying. Results to follow. Stay tuned!

1 Annetta April 24, 2010 at 11:25 am

Hi Brenda,

Hooray for you all! What a great way to spend your day, I completely support your stance for keeping nutbars as faaaaar away from governing power or budget of any kind. A wonderful way to stand up for reasonable, humane, integrated living. Although I never visited Barking when I lived in London (many moons ago), I have a soft spot for it, as I enjoy Billy Bragg’s music immensely – I wouldn’t have pictured it as a potential hotbed of stupidity and cultural prejudice, and I wish all of you who campaign for equality the best of luck for the upcoming election.

Salutations, and good luck with the skein dyeing, too,

Annetta
Blackwall, Australia

2 Heather April 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Hey Brenda,

I agree, the BNP is a little overboard. I am an American immigrant living in Putney and there is a big sign on the high street that basically says “Over 500 immigrants settle in Putney every month, make it stop. BNP” and to be honest, it kind of hurts my feelings. It also seems a bit silly from the country that went around to say, America, Australia, and India to name a few and made them selves at home to then deny those people to come in/back. Thanks on my behalf for doing something about it!

3 Felix April 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I am very happy thinking of you gathering plants and boiling up onion skins and turning all that white Welsh wool into gorgeous, golden wonderment.

What a perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday.

You are right that the BNP are racist nutbars (great description!) and I am glad you helped to get that message out there!

My fav anti-BNP propaganda out there is cassette boy’s remix of Nick Griffin on Question Time; says it all, really. If you haven’t seen it, do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QAvkFS_cgk

4 kmkat April 24, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Thank you (from an American thousands of miles away in Wisconsin) for doing the leafleting. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke.

5 Abigail April 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Isn’t barking also British slang for crazy? Perhaps that’s why there are so many BNP nutters in Barking? 🙂

Good for you for fighting the good fight!

6 Lien April 25, 2010 at 8:32 pm

The BNP don’t just want to throw out people not born here; they want those who are not white British, even if they’ve been here for generations, to be “repatriated”. Ugh.

The Limey’s hometown actually has a BNP councillor; it makes me slightly nervous when we visit his family.

7 Mer April 26, 2010 at 3:52 am

Always wonderful to hear about other people working for immigrants’ rights. The BNP can eat a bag of nails, along with our Sheriff Arpaio.

Solidarity!

8 Tonia April 26, 2010 at 6:48 am

I have heard that Thatcher was sometimes known as ‘Daggers’ Thatcher – because she was said to be ‘three stops past Barking’.

9 Audrey April 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

How horrible that political party sounds. You were so right to do something about it, and I hope people who received the leaflets read them and perhaps thought twice about their choice.

I can’t wait to see how your onion peel dying works out. I also hope you are feeling better and seeing real progress in your recovery.

10 Sharon April 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I am so proud of you for taking time off from podcasting, so that you can heal. BUT, I wanted you to know that I miss your show! When you are well and feeling ready to podcast, I will be here listening. Cheers!

11 Sara in WI April 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I’m missing your podcasts but hope that you are getting better. I hope that you will show us how your onion peels dying turned out!

12 Brenda Dayne April 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Absolutely, there will be onion dye images, just as soon as Tonia comes home with my camera. She’s been away for a couple of days, but is due back this evening.

13 Zainab May 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Hello BD,

Continue to heal yourself – How does one save/preserve onion skins for dyeing purposes. I am a city-girl and never was exposed/aware you could do such wonders with onions skins. Please share!

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