Until a few days ago most people had no idea of the existence or whereabouts of East London’s Lea Valley. Thanks to the Olympics that all changed. The swarms of people descending on Lea Valley in their droves are mostly unaware that they are entering what was London’s most unpopulated area. The locals know the area as Hackney Wick. It has a colourful history, the Vikings were repelled from there, but it is best known for its industrial history: it was where the first paper-mills were built and it is also the home to some of the everyday objects we now take for granted. Hope Chemical Works was where the brand name Petrol was invented, the first plastic was invented in Wallace Road. It is also home of the diode valve, Yardley’s soap and India Pale Ale.
‘What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day?’ is a new release from Heavenly Films depicted by Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne. It looks at the redevelopment of the Lower Lea Valley to make the Olympic Park from a cultural perspective, from that of the people, the locals. It offers a fascinating insight into how times have changed and how a major development like the Olympics affects an area like this. From the fight to save allotments from being bulldozed to communities of underground artists living in the old industrial buildings this is a story of lost dreams. The Lea Valley area had a strong tradition of gardening, to many it was their Garden of England, those allotments were more than sources of sustenance…they were multi-cultural communities of like minded folk, from the day-dreamers to the prize growers…little did they know what was around the corner.
It’s moving, emotional and revealing…but more than anything it’s rewarding to watch, it cuts through the tabloid headlines and bullshit.
The DVD is being released as a limited edition of 1500 copies ‘…Mervyn Day’ is presented as a double disc set which includes a DVD of the film itself, plus a CD of the original soundtrack composed and performed by Saint Etienne. Also included is a lavish 16 page booklet with stills from the film and an essay about its making by Bob Stanley.
Note: Move timer to 4:10 to start film
The roots of Heavenly Films stretch back as far as the early 1990s and the origins of the record label of the same name. Martin Kelly (MD of Heavenly Films) was a founding partner of Heavenly Recordings with Jeff Barrett in 1990. The pair went on to launch the careers of Saint Etienne, The Manic Street Preachers, Doves, Beth Orton, Ed Harcourt and The Magic Numbers amongst others.