Well, here we are at the Jubilee Weekend. The word of the moment is Bunting. We’re all talking about it. It’s a verb now too, apparently – as in ‘I’m not…’; or ‘Bunt off’. People have made their own, it’ a nostalgia thing, its a flag thing, its getting confused with the Union Jack (which was brought in by James I & VI, right after the first Elizabeth…) People are either hanging it or not hanging it as a political act. Or a commercial one.
And indeed, in true British style, with one letter changed at the beginning, it becomes a festival of bad language – though I saw this done, and the rudest thing about it was the price.
Much of the bunting, mostly on shops, is sodden now. Yesterday was a reprieve; there was even a spell of the afternoon when a bit of sun peeked out; but today is relentless, grey, wet, dreary, rainrain, ugh. The news websites have been filling up with images of people sitting by the Thames with umbrellas, waiting to see the ships come sailing by, in anoraks. (You can bet the Queen won’t be in an anorak.)
It’s also – Jubilee! – the Stoke Newington Literary Festival this weekend with poetry gigs galore, and I am doing a reading in two hours with some fine colleagues: Peter Daniels, Fran Isherwood, and Mark Gilfillan. It will be warm and dry and fun, and (maybe) no bunting in sight.
I missed loads of great events yesterday, including John Cooper Clarke and Jackie Kay (no, lovely Jackie did not have to try to share a podium with the godfather of punk; you can picture it now, ‘the fucking mic’s too fucking short’). And I was going to go on the guided tour of Abney Park Cemetery today (‘Radical Stoke Newington’) but no, and now too late. And I’m missing one thing I did want to go to because I’m reading, but that’s a good reason.
In fact, I even missed the thing I was going to yesterday, which was a friend’s birthday party. (Agh.) It was one of those days – too much going on! There was a sort of holiday mood out and about; the air just kind of felt different, suspended.
I had a lunchtime invitation too, and thought I could go to one and then go to the other and it SO wasn’t the actual case. Fatal plan. I ended up spending the entire day in Whitechapel – first in someone’s wonderful eighteenth-century period-restored house and garden, eating frozen ‘Elizabethan’ fruit cream and drinking many many tiny glasses of homemade mulberry vodka (and then, with a change of mood and music near the end, Pernod) (but this went on for far longer than expected and meant I never made it to W1, sorryyyyyy) and then an interesting evening, of which more tomorrow.
Then a long, solitary bus ride home among the far more riotous drunks, who included a group of men downstairs who sang, many times, extremely loud rendition of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’.
And now, off down to Church Street to see what’s happening. Boats, later, tv.