Gazette letters: Summer, Stoke Newington, thanks Gazette and a correction

Autumn colours in Hackney. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

Autumn colours in Hackney. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Archant

Summer has left Hackney. Like the end of a party it’s loitering on the doorstep, unwilling to bid goodbye - but it’s over, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Growing patches of yellow on sycamore trees and the horse chestnuts have begun to shed their leaves already.

At their trunks the rust coloured fronds piled uncomfortably like stray hairs at the plughole.

I’ve been in Scotland for some of the past week and learnt the word driech.

London this week has been treated to occasional driech - a thin film of drizzle, everything a bit damp, your surroundings out of focus.

First day back at school and uniforms already sodden.

Blue clouds though - summer blue skies backlight the grey city canopy.

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The memory of summer’s gorgeous long days hangs behind today’s murky weather. A reminder of autumn’s coming kaleidoscope - colour in extremis.

I’ve lost a tree in the garden this week.

Drooping leaves and bad posture spell the end of a nearly new almond tree.

This messy season ending - humid but lacking in sunlight, unpredictable temperatures - has claimed a horticultural victim in Newington Green.

Why is the reaction to something new in Stoke Newington always the same – negative?, asks Dr Vishal Vora, Stoke Newington, full address supplied.

Upon seeing the news Costa will soon open a branch in Stoke Newington High Street, I was amused by the usual negative comments on social media, but one in particular caught my eye. It said the large shop would have been better used as community space, a place where all residents could meet and share ideas, but gave no comment on how such a venture would be funded.

Who exactly are “all residents”? What irks me most is the hypocrisy and utter blindness such comments display. Instead of speaking “for the community”, people who make them only reflect the needs and desires of people like them.

What made Stoke Newington special to me was a broad sense of community, something that continues to be lacking in most big cities. I felt it when I began looking to make this place my home in the mid-2000s. But I feel in recent years this sense of community has been in demise.

While it is indeed good for the area to have better standards in local shops (think artisan beer and coffee, hipster barbers and fancy burgers and pizzas) has anyone stopped to analyse the patrons of such establishments? Stoke Newington is now very homogenised and displays a monoculture. It is all well and good to consider setting up a shared community space, but who will use it? Won’t it just be yet another place for the moneyed freelance creative types to colonise and rule? I am all up for the artisan coconut-latte costing upwards of £3.50 but think we all need a reality check. Stoke Newington does not exist in a bubble, and local shops need to cater not just for the likes of us. So let Costa exist in peace.

And if you want a real slice of Stoke Newington life, go and have a pint in the Rochester Castle on a Friday night. There you’ll find a friendly clientele who will welcome you, regardless of your choice of drink, and there will always be someone up for a chat. Or you could just keep going to a craft beer pub and sit with well-paid middle-class professionals sipping five-quid pints and not interacting with anyone other than perhaps their iPhone or “people like us” friends.

There is more than one Stoke Newington.

We welcome the words of support by this newspaper for our plans to implement a ban on smoking on the Homerton Hospital site (Editor’s comment), writes Sheila Adam, chief nurse, Homerton University Hospital.

Smoking was banned in all public buildings, including hospitals, in 2007. Now, 10 years on, the NHS aims to ban smoking anywhere on a hospital or clinic premises.

At Homerton, we are playing catch-up as many hospital trusts across the country have already implemented the complete ban.

We should add that while we will be enforcing the ban for smoking on hospital and clinic sites from January 1, 2018, the request to patients to desist from smoking an hour or so before a health care professional visits them at home is just that – a request.

We also take on board the newspaper’s encouragement for us to strive to support people in trying to quit smoking completely. As you know, the benefits are huge for everyone.

We will continue to encourage people – staff and patients - to give up smoking.

For help and advice on stopping smoking, call 020 8510 7248 or email

Re the Gazette history “Your memories of the Stoke Newington tram network – 65 years on”, writes Mr A. R. Rabin, Acorn Lodge, Atherden Road, Clapton.

There was never a 35 tram to Manor House – only the 33 went there.

The 35 went to Highgate and Archway via Highbury Corner and Holloway.