I started reading Spitalfields Life in September 2009 shortly after it began. I cannot remember how I found it but I recognised immediately the innovative use of blogging. The Gentle Author writes a daily portrait of the people, buildings and spaces of Spitalfields and it has gradually developed into an important social and historical record which has successfully made the transition to a beautiful book published by Saltyard Books. It is clear that The Gentle Author feels a vocation to document the world that he loves and he does so with complete integrity, his duty of care to the people that he interviews patently obvious to the reader.
Oddly, the posts that I remember from the early days are the more personal ones about visits to Columbia Road market on a Sunday to buy a small plant for the windowsill. I also had a covetous eye for The Gentle Author's collection of antique china. When china and bulbs made a joint appearance in a post about an inherited hyacinth bowl I was overcome and immediately bought one of my own which reminds me of The Gentle Author every time I use it.
It was a real thrill to meet The Gentle Author at the Port Eliot festival where he was speaking in the tent of his friend from Spitalfields, Andrews of Arcadia. We listened to him read lyrical and moving extracts from the book including the post about his friend, Sandra Esqulant, Landlady of the Golden Heart. After the reading I had the chance to chat to The Gentle Author and thank him for the pleasure that Spitalfields Life has given me over the years. I wanted to say I understood his sense of vocation, his obligation to record and how grateful I was that he had taken the underrated form of blogging to such high levels, inspiring other bloggers to believe in the work that they do quietly every day, but I was dumbstruck.