Several years ago I was in the Friends of Fabric dry cleaners on Bellenden Road witnessing it’s owner MeM Tekari almost persuading a gullible customer that he had just won the contract at Wimbledon to clean their tennis balls. I thought to myself: this guy can tell a good story!
Two years later I was back there meeting up with MeM for whom 2019 had been the year in which he had had his first story published -the very wonderful and awesome ‘The Fairy Tale of Peckham Rye Park’. MeM has owned and run Friends of Fabric since 2001 though his background was as an actor and writer of screenplays and scripts. He always retained his love and passion for writing despite the demands of running a business.
He began writing the book in February 2019 though some of the ideas were floating around in his head long before then. The story is about a young boy Terry whose quest to meet Father Christmas triggers of a series of events which show him that the selfish and uncaring life he has been living is a poor substitute for the happiness and fulfillment that comes from thinking and caring for others. If that makes the book sound dry and preachy it’s anything but that: it is full of action humour and magic including cool references to Bellenden Road where it is set. What is intriguing is that one of the real-life inspirations for the book is children passing the Dry Cleaners fascinated by seeing the costume of Father Christmas on display (readers check it out when you are passing Friends of Fabric!).
Words and Pictures
The book is self-published though MeM plans during 2020 for the second edition to have illustrations (it is a very visual story which reads in places like a film). The target audience is children aged 8 and upwards (though this 62 year old adult read it from start to finish in one sitting!) Be warned adults who buy the book - there are several pages with the heading ‘This blank page is strictly for children only. Keep off this page adults!
MeM has a passion for making reading and writing accessible and fun for children. He has donated copies of the book to local schools and libraries and his ambition for 2020 is for the book to be in every primary school in Southwark. When Terry is on the path to becoming good two of the three people he helps are elderly and a local care home has taken 50 copies as it has proved popular with it’s residents. Before I left the somewhat hot environment of Friends of Fabric MeM spoke warmly of his love of Peckham’s closely knit community and how people always looked out for each other; it;s a recurring theme in his book.
Copies of the book can be bought on Amazon or purchased in the shop. MeM is now on Instagram under his name MeM Tekari.