I have sunstroke, well maybe not sunstroke but I’m definitely ill, possibly ill, not ill, I’m hungover. I don’t have a banging hangover, not one of those that makes you bury your head under a pillow and wait for the rapture to come and take the pain away. It’s one of those hangovers that makes the world a bit fuzzy around the edges, one of those that makes everything a little bit harder to do. For example, I was nearly outfoxed by the kettle this morning. I wanted tea, no that’s not right, I needed tea, and the kettle was that little bit more complicated than usual. It takes a fair bit of coordination to make tea when you’re not firing on all cylinders. Fill kettle, boil kettle, find the tea bags, identify fresh milk, accidentally eat some cheese from the fridge, attempt to pour boiling water in to a mug without injuring your self. All of this whilst looking at the world through one eye. Blimey, it’s like the domestic version of the crypton factor. So yes, I’m hungover, and who do I blame, not myself, no sir, I blame the Barbican.
I’m blaming the Barbican for my hangover because they are behind the Walthamstow Garden Party in Lloyd Park. I spent yesterday there, and may have enjoyed a few too many pints from the Wildcard beer tent. Clearly, this hangover has nothing to do with me, it is entirely the fault of the organisers. Aside from causing me to feel sorry for myself, this years event was another great one. There were the usual complaints about length of queue, and how long it took people to get in to the park, but that’s been the same every year. Get there early, it’s not to bad, middle of the afternoon you’ll wait for ages, early evening you’ll be straight in. And of course, the queues at the bars were not short. Putting the queue controversy to one side, I really did enjoy this years event, but probably for different reasons to the previous two years.
If you are reading this on Sunday the 17th July, and you are going to the second day of the garden party, don’t worry, you’ll find all the same great stuff as previous years. The E17 Designers have a massive marquee outside the front of the of the gallery, the tented main stage has a great lineup, as does the News From Nowhere stage, which is always my favourite spot to spend a couple of hours. There’s a new addition this year in the shape of the Bring Back The Beat dance tent. Co-curated by Kat Richmond of Electronic 17 & the Stow Festival, and Dom Mandrell, the guy behind Soul Picnic, this is the place to be for DJ sets and and a good old bop. So yes, there’s loads to do, but the reason I really enjoyed the event this year, is because it gave me a little bit of hope.
Lets face it, this year has been pretty bloody bleak. When Big Ben struck midnight on new years eve, I don’t think any of us could have predicted the year that was to follow. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve sat and watched the news in sheer horror. That’s it, I’ve thought, we are all going to hell in a handcart. Sometimes, what you need is a reminder that there’s still a load of good stuff in the world, and I got that reminder yesterday, thanks to some of the people and organisations taking part. The E17 community marquee on the island in the middle of the park is good place to stop off and raise your spirits. Organised by the Mill Community Centre, this tent is a hive of activity. The standout for me was the exhibition called In Her Footsteps, which celebrates the Women of the East End who have fought to make the world a better place, but have often been overshadowed by their male counterparts.
It was the young participants who really impressed me yesterday. From the members of the Walthamstow Youth Circus who performed on the static trapeze, to the 100 strong troupe of drummers from the Drum Works, there were some talented kids in Lloyd Park. I’ll tell you what really got me though, the Barbican young poets. It’s no understatement to say I was in awe of them. I stood in the Earthly Paradise tent and listened as one by one they made their way to the stage and read poems about politics, global issues, respect and tolerance. Why do we have a monarchy, they are the same as us but with more glitter, read one girl. Later on, a young lad spoke about joining hands across divides, and remembering what makes us the same, not what makes us different. Seemed to me these youngsters were making much more sense than many adults.
If you are reading this on Sunday and are going along to the second day of the event, enjoy the music, the stages, the food and the beer, but search out the other stuff. Search out the community events, the local groups and young kids performing in the park. You never know, you might just find something that will unexpectedly knock your socks off. For more information about the Garden Party, click here.