ASHA made it to London, in the Leyton Technical Pub. Paul Cheneour joined me, after a hellish journey in a rail replacement bus. Despite the fact that it was raining, the Central line was closed and we were in a newly opened pub, the turn out of people was good. I got quite a few people I didn’t know, which I always like. The discussion afterwards was lovely. Every time I do this show there are different perspectives. People expressed how moved they were last night, which I really appreciated.


I went round the pub before we started and personally invited everyone to the show, which was in a room on the other side of the seating area, with no bar and in fact no plug sockets of its own yet (we had to run an extension lead from their office). Pretty much everyone I spoke to was civil or friendly but generally disinterested in the idea of a “poetry reading with live music and a film” as I put it, in layman’s terms. I probably did the work a disservice by describing it thus but anyway! I was nervous. I said the words “you are welcome to come” at the end of my pitch, so to speak. One guy played with the word saying he would “cum”… after saying other things like I looked very colourful in the sari… He made me feel uncomfortable and I really didn’t see the purpose of his chauvinistic comment. I didn’t know (and still don’t know) how he thought he was being funny or flirtatious and what he thought he would achieve by it. I went back to the room and started. He joined us! He stood for a while, then he sat, he even sat for the discussion but remained mute. Shocker. He was the first to walk out once we were done and I made sure I caught his eye as he left and said “Thanks for coming”. He did not retort. Incidents like those seem to follow me around like a bad smell.


I was the first artist to perform in that room since the Leyton Technical Pub opened. I think that is special. In my list of milestones for this project I wanted to show the work in my local community. I showed some non ASHA work in Leytonstone at the Red Lion Pub this summer and it just so happened that the woman who was a member of staff at that pub has now moved to the Leyton Technical! It was nice to see a familiar face. I feel like I am part of my local community, somehow, in my own way. They are very open to me doing anything else again. I was very happy to see this openness. None of the staff attended the performance though.





*Photographs by Jeremy Smith*

This project reinvents itself each time. I am very satisfied with its ability to adapt to each new environment, especially the non gallery spaces. I feel sometimes that it is too short and other times I feel it is just right. I think it could be longer. I still have my own personal paranoia where I feel I may bore people. I think it is better to keep people wanting more at the end rather than exhausting them. As a performer I felt I wanted more. I prefer this at the moment.