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Stories around The Happy Man Tree

Stories people are telling

As we sit beside the tree people stop and talk to us. Often these are long term residents of the estate. This might be because the tree is situated in the area yet to be regenerated - it is about 100 yards away from where the new tower blocks soar above Woodbury Grove. Almost always everyone expresses sadness grief disbelief and anger. Most people just can't believe that something is old and ancient can be discarded. Their ‘arguments’ for it to remain are almost always around stories of the tree and their feelings about it. It's the stories that really help to bring to life the importance of the tree for the community .

One person who has lived on the estate for 42 years stopped with her son. She told the following story. Her partner is blind. he knows this tree very well. When he walks down the street he can feel when the pavement changes and he comes to the tree. It can only be this tree due to its size and unique nature. It's at that moment he knew went to turn left into the (now closed) Happy Man Pub. And he also knew how far it was to the entrance to Sainsbury's where he went to shop and he could navigate himself to the door. For some reason we found this a really powerful unexpected and heart warming story of how the tree is known by different people for so many different reasons.

It's a bank holiday weekend coming up. At this weekend we would like to encourage people to share their memories and stories of the tree and for us to be able to capture it somehow and publish them. In any event for all those people who like to stop and talk to us thank you because all your stories of life around and about the tree are a perfect antidote to the dry mathematical, emotionless, formula driven, heavily spun justifications that keep coming out from Hackney Council and Barclay homes. I say heavily spun because the versions we hear from other people flatly contradict most of their ‘facts’. Perhaps if they listened to people’s stories more and £ less we would not be in this sad place.

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