When you little were you afraid of monsters? Big green ones that hid under your bed and ate your feet if you got up during the night? Perhaps you, even now, fear a midnight trip to the bathroom in case scary things approach you on the landing? (If so, it’s either time to get rid of that alcoholic housemate with the tendancy for sleepwalking in the nud, or time to stop swallowing whatever it is your mate Dave brings round at the weekend).
Mayor Ken©’s London has a MONSTER of a week lurking just around the corner but there’s no need to go running to your Mummy, clutching your blankie and squeezing poor Teddy so tightly that fluffy entrails spill all over your Mum’s nice, clean kitchen floor. Don’t be afraid because this monster is kind and gentle and will touch you in that special place. Just like Teddy.
Recently cast out from the Circle of Horrid Things That Terrify Young And Old after becoming a FREE week, our monster is ebulliently gratis. It is grinning at the prospect of Vikings on the River Thames; chortling with anticipation at the tales of joyful caravaning; and yahooing the expectation one crazed fool can bring when he sets all his perfectly-ok possessions alight.
Between the bridge that Tony Blair wants to jump from (Westminster) and the one where his gallows await (Tower) The Mayor’s Thames Festival, a gamut of unusual arts and celebrations, will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday (16th & 17th). If you dont know your Cornish Pilot Gig from your Irish Currach, or that Richmond is roughly 22 miles from The Cutty Sark, on Sunday you’ll be able to witness 2,000 enthusiasts attempting to squeeze into 250 gigs, currachs, whalers, dragonboats and longships in The Great River Race. The race has a staggered start to ensure a fair contest so you should see them rounding Westminster at around noon.
If that many novices in one place is not enough to surrender your lips to a chuckle then there are other watery activities taking place: HMS Belfast veterans will try to remember their semaphore signalling in a ship-to-shore performance (good job it’s permanently moored and has no weaponry on board, then); the Sea Cadets will voluntarily throw themselves overboard; and, by chance, the RNLI will be demonstrating their life-saving abilities.
The musical arts will be represented at The Scoop on Sunday (between 1 and 3pm) by the 600 choir singers of the Sing For Water campaign (which usually raises money for cleaner, safer water supplies in Ghana and India). This is one of many musical productions on the list of “Never Heard Ofs” taking place over the weekend.
Joint top prize for the Most Intriguing Street Performances should surely go to the following: the perculiar dream worlds of those that live in a Caravan of Desires at the National; the oblivious nature of the participants (or naturistic partici-no-pants) of Nudist Beach, also at the National; the green-fingerings of a gardener and his Compost Mentis at the Oxo Tower; and, at the Tate Modern, the strictly kid-free S?ance. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Weirdness shows up again at Sharon Baker’s EAT ME installation: a large, edible bread sculpture cast from her own body. After taking up valuable time by telling everyone how she did it, Sharon will then let everyone eat her *&$@ at the end. If only it came with wine (Jesus shares the same number of letters in his name as Sharon. Now THAT’S food for thought)
Sunday’s final events is the 2,500-strong, all-dancing, all-masquerading, all-costumed carnival from Victoria Embankment (at 7pm). This is then followed by much oohing and aahing when the fireworks begin on the Thames itself at 9.45pm (best vantage points: Waterloo Bridge, Victoria Embankment and any one of the many planes stuck in the Heathrow holding pattern).
Open House London, now in it’s 14th year thanks to the British Nosey Parker, or BNP, sub-culture, flings open the doors of some 600 locations so that the prying public can come and ‘ave a look (Saturday and Sunday). Although the entrance fee is waived, you must first purchase the handy ?3 guidebook in order to find the localities. 020.com can tell you that Mayor Ken©’s Bank of London-neigh-England and Mayor Ken©’s iPod City Hall are both on the list. As is the Royal ‘Mess-of-a’ Festival Hall, oddly enough right back on the South Bank (you cannot escape Mayor Ken©’s all-seeing eye). This will be your chance to see how the refurbishments to the building (you have never previously set foot inside) are going. But really we all know you only want to take part so that you can wear a yellow hard hat and point at rafters, pretending to be an important architect just flown in from New York.
As you’ll be in the area it’d be rude not to experience Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms just outside said building site, not least because you can push small children into water jets without them minding too much. Then squelch inside the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall next door to see the baroque trio sonatas, Charivari Agreable, performing The Virtuoso Godfather at 2.15pm on Saturday.
To put the final nails in this weekend coffin of fun, bury yourself in a couch at The Roxy Bar and Screen on Sunday for a movie triple bill of Coen Brothers classics: part 2. Which three films they’ll be showing is anyone’s guess (they are restricted, by law, in advertising film titles). However, this adds an intriguing dimension to the whole process and if you DONT want a clue, look away now: They WONT be showing the one with The Dude in it, the one where Nicholas Cage steals a baby and the brothers very first film. You missed them, they all appeared at Part 1 of this Coen Brothers triple bill series).
Lastly, although the exact time and venue is being kept secret for now (to be announced on his blog very soon), the most enticing spectacle in the week ahead will surely be the Bonfire of the Brands. Neil Boorman, a publisher and avid blog fiend, shall be casting off his slave-to-the-name guilt by burning ALL his branded possessions. Whether it is a publicity stunt for his upcoming book or simply an experiment in life without brand names, it’s a good reason to see ?1000s-worth of stuff go up in flames. Huhuhuh, cool!