diamond geezer

 Sunday, July 19, 2009

A tale of two festivals

South: Lambeth Country Show
Billy shears a sheepEvery year, in Brockwell Park, Lambeth comes out to play. The rolling hillocks of the park may not be proper countryside with fields and cows and combine harvesters and that, but they do make a great setting for any medium-to-large public event. So for two days every July thousands of people turn up to pretend they don't live in relentless inner suburbia, and enjoy all the fun of the fair instead. Yes, there are sheep. There was a bloke yesterday standing on the back of a trailer giving some befuddled-looking woolly quadruped the once-over with his shears. Children sat enraptured on the grass as shearer Billy Kinghorn immobilised the sheep with a few bodily movements, then whipped off the animal's winter coat. Nextdoor the Berkley Owls trailer stood empty and unwatched while their protégés were off entertaining the crowds in the main arena. Brockwell Park railwayIf all of this looking at animals had made you hungry, the main footpath down the hill was lined with stalls selling barbecued animal and watermelon. Jerk chicken was a favourite, this being nearly Brixton, and the lunchtime queues waited patiently to grease their stomachs. Nearby was a talent-packed flower show tent, just like at a proper country fair, as well as a villageful of stalls promoting local businesses and community groups. Two of the Herne Hill Stitch and Bitchers sat knitting outside an irrelevant tent, while various volunteers hung around trying to give away leaflets about health services or housing benefit. I missed out on the free jam sandwich being given out by the Warburtons drones, but got two squirts of Factor 50 from the mole-check lady doling out skin cancer advice. At the bottom of the hill, tucked away behind the funfair, dads and kids sat astride the world's smallest public railway and took rides beneath the trees towards the lido and back. Sir BedevereJousting knights drew crowds to the upper arena (huzzah!), everybody keenly watching in case Sir Bedevere might fall off his horse or be whacked in the head by a spinning quintain. Alas not. The first reggae band of the day warmed up on the main stage, and early picknickers sprawled out on the slopes enjoying the food, space and atmosphere. Not especially rural anywhere on site, to be honest, more a diverse marketplace with entertainment liberally attached. But ever so well done, and ever so appreciated.
[open for business again today] [typical Lambeth Country Fair photograph]

East: Shoreditch Festival
Shoreditch BoulderAcross the capital, a subtly different sort of event. The Shoreditch Festival also runs every year, also in a big park, also attracting thousands. But this is a rather more urban affair, with a dash more high culture thrown in, in deference to the surrounding Hackneyists and Hoxtonites. Shoreditch Park lacks the contours that make Brockwell special, and the only major feature of interest is a big rock dumped in the middle for bouldering purposes. The festival committee have added colour with fluttering flags and twirly green fabric things, making the most of the space available. Yesterday beside the granite was a row of community stalls, this time including canalfolk and War on Want. I tempted by the tombola being run by a cheery bunch from a local women's voluntary group. My five tickets didn't win me the tube of Aquafresh toothpaste or the tin of ox tongue, but I did walk off with 750ml of citrus-scented bleach. That's Shoreditch class, for you. Shoreditch Festival - main stageCrouching nearby I recognised celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone, busy being filmed for his next BBC2 series. He'd just conducted the London Symphony Orchestra (and the fledgling South Oxhey Community Choir) in some choral extravaganza on the main stage, and was looking as if the challenge had gone well. The soulful sounds of Baby Charles were now entertaining the crowd, slouched out on the grass conveniently close to the burger vans and chicken curry queues. A posse of firefighters strode by with smoke alarm leaflets in hand, rapidly snapped up by ladies keen to engage in conversation with a man in uniform. Shoreditch FestivalElsewhere a slightly tongue-in-cheek dog show was in full swing. Prizes were awarded for the "best tail wagging dog" and "best vocal performance", as well as a special six-legged category rating both dog and owner combined. The local beekeepers had jars of their honey for sale, as had been also the case in Brockwell, although here they were also selling a greener lifestyle as part of the Earth Tent. Another tent, the silver Dance Dome, hid merry tea dancing pensioners, while the Pearly Queen of Islington preferred her tea sitting down in the refreshment tent. A few revellers were still wearing their costumes from the parade that had kicked off the afternoon - most in muted purple, but one resplendent in top-to-toe tinfoil. Wizard of Oz float, presumably, or maybe he was just feeling chilly. Nothing here was quite so straight-forward as had been the case south of the river, but both were well-organised and entertaining events to enjoy on a July afternoon.
[also taking place today, but with a rather more music/film/youth theme] [typical Shoreditch Festival photograph]


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream