Like many of my musical instruments and piles of sheet music, From the Edge has sat in a dusty corner for some years. Throwing it away was never a consideration. I always knew there would be a time when I would want to return to it. I always knew there would be a time when I needed it.
I would never have anticipated the sequence of events which have finally led me to blow the dust off, pick it up and gently ease mind and fingers back into long neglected but never forgotten routines. I would never have anticipated that even an unemotive, impassionate description of the world today would, mere months ago have been more at home in a Hollywood film pitch or young adult novel.
Those circumstances are well documented and I won’t attempt to summarise the global or even national situation here. On a personal level, in the last year I started a new job leading the learning and participation programme at a concert hall based in a school and community in Essex. This work is all about bringing people together to create and collaborate, and about shared experiences, normally in the same space. None of that is currently possible in the way it has been envisaged. This work is also about realising the power of the arts to bridge the gaps between people, to enable people to give voice to and share their lived experience, to learn from each other and to support each other. All of that should still be possible, and is more important than ever.
Alongside that professional angle this blog originated as place to document thoughts about living on London’s outermost border, and the interesting things that happen where one of the world’s largest cities joins forest and marshland, and where communities exist separately from but never quite escape the gravitational pull of the capital. In my community, as in so many others, these times have triggered the growth of community networks, both formal and informal, organised and loose. But also here, as elsewhere, cracks in the system and disparity between individuals circumstances have been thrown into the spotlight by the recent events.
So, just as I have recently picked up some musical instruments and dived back into the world of early and baroque music, I now return to this space to process and organise some of my thoughts about all of these issues. I don’t know where it will lead, or what will emerge, but if nothing else hope it will serve as one record among many others of these interesting times.