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Chewing the Fat Event

Published: 24 Jul 2013


On July the 18th  Toynbee Hall kicked off the Cockney Heritage Festival in style with their top notch Chewing the Fat event. The Wellbeing Centre threw open their doors to welcome people in to make Pearly King and Queen sashes or bookmarks with our regular crafts mistress Shoba – lots of our very own Lunch Clubbers created their very own royally buttoned accessories, as well as some newcomers from the local community.

At lunch time, we served up some traditional East End grub, in the form of jellied eels and crusty bread for the brave, and the safe house of fish ‘n’ chips for the less adventurous! There weren’t any converts to the gelatinous fishy fare, but those who have been enjoying the Whitechapel favourite for many years tucked in heartily, in spite of others’ sideways glances...

Speaker for Tower Hamlets Cllr Lesley Pavitt and our Chief Executive Graham FisherTo round the day off, we had a right old knees-up organised by local historian and Toynbee Hall pillar, Laurie Allen, who created song sheets of traditional Cockney songs and led the Lunch Clubbers and guests in a rousing chorus of favourites including: Any Old Iron, Knees Up Mother Brown and Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner. Our rabble of enthusiastic singers performed for the Speaker of the Council and Tower Hamlets' First Citizen, counsellor Lesley Pavitt, who came to have a sing, but perhaps wasn’t expecting the yells and yelps of, ‘Cor Blimey!’, at any and every opportunity spilling forth from the merry crew. We were very pleased to have her at Toynbee Hall.

Older People’s Services Manager Dave Barnard felt, “it was a really fantastic occasion to get people together to pay tribute to the East End’s Cockney culture and heritage.  We even had a young Latvian gentleman who came along to practice his English and wants to learn the Cockney accent! We enjoyed Pearly Queen crafts, jellied eels, trying to understand the cockney alphabet and the main attraction, the Cockney Knees Up with local historian Laurie!”

A fantastic way to kick off the Cockney Heritage Festival – what better place for it to begin than our own, historic Toynbee Hall?