Lucky to Miss the Rain

No sooner had I come back than a torrential rain afflicted parts of England, fortunately for me not where I am. I can’t help feeling for all the people who have lost their homes and comfort in this episode and hope the waters subside soon and of course that they can stay in good spirits throughout these times. These kinds of environmental disasters seem to be happening more and more and I wonder if every possible permutation can really be prepared for., it just makes you realise how important the basic things in life are.

Meanwhile, I have been lucky enough to attend a couple of summer festivals and also go to the British Museum, The first festival was the Lambeth County Festival, something I have been going to since I was knee-high to a grass-hopper (very, very small). It was always generally English traditional countryside crafts and animals, along with a good helping of reggae music and Jamaican Jerk-chicken, which I always seemed to pass over in favour of the dumplings. Now things have changed- I did have the jerk-chicken, freshly bbq’ed and the reggae music is gone, replaced by the occasional but of hip-hop (unfortunately, in my view, sorry but it’s not my thang) and a stage with various live acts that were good to see. There was also a plethora of other peoples and cultures represented there, along with the traditional steam engines, sheep-shearing and live bird acts. Funnily enough, the petting zoo didn’t quite have the same allure these days, but it was very cute to see the kids petting them and having a good time. In fact this festival is really all about the kids, who have their own rock band set up my mums and enjoy holding owls, trying to hold balloons, and all the fun of the enormous (to them) fair.

While I was there, I was happy to meet a couple of fellow-photographers and a Japanese girl who had left Japan at the age of 18 to live in Spain and no is living in England with her husband here. I thought it a pretty brave achievement and it was interesting to talk about all the places I grew up with, with her, which she now also knows so well. Her accent was pretty authentic south London, what gave it away was the presence of a konyaku (a kind of mountain tuber) plant at her stall, which she had had shipped over to make the stuff here by hand. Since you only ever see the end product in Japan I was pretty surprised by it all! Despite occasional downpours, we were always able to find shelter and the warm, bustling nature of the festival kept you feeling alive. not only this, but each rainfall was followed by rich warm sunshine, in which all the colours were that bit more vivid.

The other festival showed just how much South London has changed since I grew up and it’s multicultural nature expanded, as it was devoted to Latin American cultures and their Independence Days. One thing that I always thought was a shame when growing up was that despite seeing people of many origins, I saw little of their cultures. Well, this kind of festival was here to change all that as it had all kinds of vivid dancing and colourful costumes, each from the culture of the place. This was surely something that you can’t see too many places in the world and was very enjoyable, especially with some explanations from a family friend, a professor who regularly visits Columbia and could translate some of the narration.

Our favourite stall was probably the Ecuadorian one, as the crowd were so friendly and this is where my sister-in-law is from, so we feel a kind of attachment to the place. We could see some differences in style between each country for sure. The Colombian dancers were incredibly flashy, it looked like the kind of thing you might see in an expensive night-club in Miami. I also liked the Bolivian dancers, especially one very pretty one, though I was surprised when she took off her boots and turned out to be about half as tall as she seemed! I finished up with a nice long lie down on the grass, watching the clouds and the passing people (many of whom reminded my of Vicky Pollard from Little Britain) and then seeing some soulful singers at the Chilean stall. All in all a good first week-end back!

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