Jon Cruddas MP

To celebrate the publication of The Banjo Book Two I have had the pleasure of interviewing some prominent Dagenham people to ask them their views on a place that’s dear to the hearts of so many of us.

I am delighted to announce that bringing the series to an end is the Member of Parliament for Dagenham and Rainham, Jon Cruddas. Jon and I have exchanged many fast and furious emails, especially over the Brexit votes in Parliament.

MP Jon Cruddas out and about in Dagenham.

ES:  Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule, Jon.… Read the rest »

Councillor Saima Ashraf

Today the Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Saima Ashraf shares her thoughts about Dagenham.  Her pride in the Borough is evident throughout.

Councillor Saima Ashraf – Deputy Council Leader

“I love the history and community of Dagenham – and the great potential we 

have that is being realised for the benefit of all of us. There’s a real buzz with 

the University of Coventry Campus at the Civic Centre.  The very first time I 

entered the Civic Centre is one of my best memories of Dagenham; it is such 

a beautiful building and I am really pleased … Read the rest »

Lisa Roullier

Joining us for today’s interview about Dagenham is Lisa Roullier, Delivery Officer for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Libraries.  Lisa and her department do an amazing job especially with Pen to Print which encourages new writers, provides mentors and leads to many of them publishing their first novels. She is wonderfully supportive, endlessly enthusiastic and I wish I’d known her when I was starting out as a writer.

Lisa Roullier

ES: Apart from working for LBBD, what is your connection to Dagenham?

LR: I moved to Dagenham when I was just 4 years old. My parents

considered it … Read the rest »

Paul Embery

Today’s The Banjo Book Two Guest Interview is with a man who has Dagenham written right the way through him.  Firefighter, trade unionist, @Unherd columnist and newspaper reviewer for Sky News – Paul Embery.  I have been one of Paul’s fifty-three thousand plus Twitter followers for a considerable time and I always look forward to reading his thought-provoking, sometimes provocative views so I am delighted he’s taken the time to talk to me – to us – today.

ES: Paul, your Twitter header says you’re “Made in Dagenham”. Please can you explain your connection to the place?

PE: I was … Read the rest »

The Mayor of Barking and Dagenham – Councillor Peter Chand

I am delighted that the Mayor of Barking and Dagenham, The Worshipful Councillor Peter Chand is my guest today.

ES: Mr Mayor, I am most grateful that you have taken the time from your busy schedule to talk to us.  Apart from being the Mayor, what is your connection to Dagenham?

PC: My parents immigrated to the UK from India in 1954 and moved to a

house in Ballards Road, Dagenham. I was born in 1966 and still live in that

same very road! I went to local schools and the Adult College where I

studied Health & Social care, … Read the rest »

Sharon Borthwick

Today’s interview is with the dynamic Sharon Borthwick of Borthwick Performing Arts and Borthwick Casting.  Sharon spoke to me from her smart studios at the Business and Technical Park in Rainham Road South.  For those of you who are old enough to remember that’s the old Rhone-Poulenc site – or if you’re even older like me May and Baker’s!  Borthwick Casting is a talent agency for children and supporting artists and Borthwick Performing Arts trains young people in all the theatre disciplines.  The studios are smart and airy and Sharon’s office is beautifully decorated with the headshots of all the … Read the rest »

Danny Fenn – The Boleyn Poet

The Banjo Book Two comes out in just a week’s time and it’s all getting rather exciting! To celebrate I am going to post a series of guest interviews I did with prominent Dagenham people who share their memories and thoughts about the place that’s dear to all our hearts.

My first guest is the Danny Fenn, the Boleyn Poet who first of all tells us a bit about himself and then talk with great fondness about Dagenham.

I have been writing poems and songs for a number of years  and tend to put them on Facebook as I have … Read the rest »

A Dispatch From The Front – #IbizaIsOpen

I am one of the people Angry from Accrington complains about in the comments section of the twice-daily scare-mongering articles in the Mail Online and other electronic papers: a selfish, ignorant, virus-spreading moron who can’t go without their holiday for even one year. People have a myriad of reasons for travelling and quite frankly why I have chosen to come here to Ibiza is nobody else’s business. I do not have to defend my actions and so I won’t.

But I do want to set the record straight on the situation here on the White Island and I’ll start off … Read the rest »

One Month Today!!!

Woo hoo! Just one month to go! Thirty-one short, passing-very-fast days away. How exciting!


“A month to go until what?” I hear you asking.

You mean you haven’t heard?

The Banjo Book Two is out on Kindle on 21st August. And you can pre-order your copy on this link:

And I am very happy about that, I can tell you. After taking four years to write the sequel to The Banjo Book One – it was supposed to only take eighteen months but life got in the way – will finally be available.

Please look for news of … Read the rest »


It’s been a very judgmental, decision-making time lately. And a most enjoyable one.

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of adjudicating the North Wales Speech and Drama Festival 2020. It was done via Zoom, of course, as everything is at the moment. But I had great fun.

The standard of work was absolutely amazing and I was blown away by the talent of the young candidates who were aged 6-16. And it was so HARD making the judgments – we had several ties! Well done to everyone concerned and a huge THANK YOU to Jennie Kennedy of Kingfisher Events … Read the rest »