Inside Out: An Audiotour
Make your way across the green with Homerton University Hospital away to your right and the adventure playground away to your left. Turn left into Wardle Street. We have an appointment to keep with an artist. Walk from the green toward the the blue wall of Core Arts. Its director, Paul Monks, set up an art studio in a derelict ward of the old Hackney Hospital in the early 1990s.
Pause by the blue wall. Paul Monks will tell you a story: ‘One day a poet of ours, who enjoyed sharing his poetry, went to the local post office with half a dozen A4 envelopes addressed to his friends and fanzines around the country. But on the bottom of each of these he’d written in hand: ‘Explosive material enclosed…’
After listening to Paul, hurry past Core Arts. Take another 20 paces toward Homerton High Street. Stop near the corner, with the Fire Station on your right and the Polski Sklep up ahead.
‘Are the alarm bells ringing? Is there an emergency? Can you hear the sirens wind over Hackney? The 999 dialled from the red phone boxes? And what happened to Doctor Jelley? Is he still on the roof of the Polski Sklep opposite? Waving his shotgun at the police?’
Doctor Jelley went to prison in 1916 for ‘doing the necessary’ (an abortion), at a time when women had no reliable access to family planning. On release, he bought a shambolic charabanc to take the poor of Homerton to the seaside.