Everything Happens in Cable Street
This book is a collection of oral history accounts about the area of Cable street. It includes the Battle of Cable Street, early 20th century accounts of Jewish immigrants living in the area as well as later accounts of writers in the 70s, Cable
This book is a collection of oral history accounts about the area of Cable street. It includes the Battle of Cable Street, early 20th century accounts of Jewish immigrants living in the area as well as later accounts of writers in the 70s, Cable Street in film, school chilren, the crime and those trying to save the neighbourhood, gardens and historic buildings. Written in 2011 it feels very up to date and gives both a historical and a current concept of what the area is like. The residents' voices coming from different periods and different walks of life offer many different perspectives on the area. The long passages of quotes give an interesting oral history account of the area. The book is written in quite a journalistic style, often with the author imagining what certain events might have been like, trying to place his interviewees statements in historical context. My only criticism of the book was that the structure was a little confusing. The material wasn't presented in a chronological fashion and the chapters didn't really seem to grow in any logical way from one to the other. This left me with what I felt was an "impression" of the area, rather than a better knowledge of the history and how it had changed in the period covered by the book. Despite this I would say it would definitely be of interest to people interested in the area.
One of my favourite bits was in a small couple of paragraphs entitled, "the Eccentrics of Cable Street" "Two of the women we spoke to recalled the regular visits of a group of street entertainers known as the Nancy Boys. The troupe of female impersonators known in elaborate wigs and costumes, would cart a white barrel organ around with them and let children turn the handle as they danced and sang collecting coins outside the pubs. As children, one of the interviewees was thrilled by the outrageous glamour they brought to the street while the other fled in terror. - 57. However, no dates for when this occured were given. Later in the book while discussing the Cable Street Studios he mentions that in the 80s and 90s the building was used as a trannie club called Stunners (up till at least 2003), and an S&M club. However, there are no first hand accounts of either of the regulars there. The author mentions seeing "several hive topped drag queens in spikey stilettos blinking in the harsh morning sun' - 227 but no other mention of this continuation of drag culture in the area was addressed. I think it would make an interesting area of more research, particularly given the sorry state of LGBT history in the Borough.