Stories and photos gathered as part of #Hackneytstories for the Cine-Theatre
The Professor Of Shoes
The man I am dubbing 'The Professor' is one of the most experienced shoe repair men I have ever met and proprietor of one the oldest surviving shoe repair shops in North-East London, which is situated on one of London's oldest terraces. He has been repairing shoes for years from this spot for 35 years and I have become increasingly curious about how this shop survives while Stoke Newington gentrifies around it. I was privileged to discover his story as I interviewed and photographed him for #hackneystories at .
His story could be from the present day, he arrived aged 10, accompanied by his parents and siblings, fleeing war and hoping to start a new life. His father soon set up the business he now runs and like many others they became part of the rich texture of our city. Taking over from his father in the late 70s. Trained by his father a shoemaker, he has a passion for giving new life to shoes and is possibly one of the most experienced shoe repair men you will find in this part of town and his shop sits in own of the city's oldest terraces.
A Love for Food, Culture and London Life @Bernsteins
Adam Bernstein has a love of food and London's history which are palpable within minutes of striking up a conversation with him. He has always loved to cook and his passion for traditional Jewish and London foods lead to the creation of Bernsteins Bar. We talked about Old Jewish London and the rag trade, the link between food and culture, the richness that waves of immigration have brought to London life, the pros and cons of gentrification and the tragedy of Brexit...On Monday I will be interviewing Adam's business partner Ben about the Antipodean side to the business...one of my favourite things in the world...Coffee!
European and Proud... @L' Epicerie 56
Remy is emphatically European, he ‘belongs to Europe’ and exudes an enthusiasm for London and Hackney that is infectious. His father a French Algerian moved to France in the fifties, prior to the country gaining it’s independence. There he met Remy’s French mother. From the age of thirty, Remy has travelled the world as part of his work, settling in Hackney in the mid noughties and, ten years ago, he set up L' Epicerie 56 to sell high quality food on Chatsworth Road. Entering the shop one is met by a rich array of produce, much of it is organic and fair trade, and of course it feels very European; shelves are stacked with wine, hand made cakes and chocolate fill the counter, cheese, sits behind and along with bread from a London based, French baker brings a subtle aroma of France to the shop. What does he love about Europe? It’s values, democracy, the sense of openness, the acts of leaders like Angela Merkel who welcomed migrants to Germany at a time of crisis. Yes, he is ‘proud to be European’ and feels that London is a city that suits him better than anywhere he has lived. He loves it’s diversity; the fact that you can sit in a pub and speak to people from Poland, Turkey, Australia…anywhere, and that his neighbours, though English, have Irish roots. It is ‘pleasant and challenging’ to learn to understand people from other places. And France, at the moment ? He is upset that thirty percent of France voted for Le Penn but is relieved that the tide of populism has, for now, been kept at bay. And so back to Hackney, living here since the mid 2000s means that he has seen the area gentrify, he is philosophical about this, it is sad to see old neighbours and patrons of his shop move away, something of the area’s texture is lost, like the guy who was ‘part of the folklore’ of his street, who used to fix old cars outside his house, he retired to Jamaica, taking the opportunity to sell his home, he is lost to the area; it is particularly sad if people are forced to move. Then there are long standing businesses such as coffee shop Copper and Wolf, squeezed out by rising rents, but Remy is also happy to welcome new neighbours, who come and make new lives, businesses and creating jobs here. So, ultimately, he is optimistic about the future here in this vibrant part of East London...next up Michele and Maria.