Monday, 13 September 2010

Thames Day 2010: Carnival of the night part one.

I arrived at the Waterloo station just before dusk and quickly made my way to the Victoria Embankment. The floats were already assembled but the procession had not as yet started. It soon became apparent that the different groups came in one of two categories: either scantily dressed females, or else those whose flamboyant costumes did not require the addition of flesh covered fishnet tights to afford a modicum of modesty. I was somewhat perturbed that several of the young woman in the former camp seemed alarmingly youthful but I had to assume they were all well over the age of consent. 
Once the procession started in earnest I began to race forwards so I could capture as many images as I could. I finally found a vantage point and managed to ease my camera between groups of people who were perched precariously on top of a barrier. One woman in particular incurred my secret animosity for her habit of bending down to kiss her boyfriend at certain strategic moments thereby effectively blocking my view. I tried to will her to fall off the barrier but gave up when I thought I might be tempted to give the power of thought an extra boost with my hand. A policeman patrolled up and down the section of the route to remove those sitting illegally at the side of the road in front of the barrier. At one point I had to tell a young man to move before the police caught him. I thought he was about to argue the point but instead he politely asked if I would hold his bag and can of coke whilst he hauled himself over the barrier. By his accent I think he might have been Finnish but as I was cross as his lack of consideration: parking his not inconsiderable frame directly in front of me I was not in the mood to exchange pleasantries.  

The first two floats I observed seemed to epitomise the recurring twin motifs of sex and death. One float had a churchyard scene and the revellers seemed to be dressed as zombies. The other float looked like Boudicca in her chariot hits Las Vegas. This latter day Boudicca,  unlike the famous statue of the warrior queen of the Iceni further along the riverbank, kept thrusting her hips suggestively at the onlookers and clutching her genital area before the procession started. Quite why she was doing that I had no idea. At first I assumed her bikini bottom was too small and she was trying to conceal her modesty with her hands.Then I decided she was just being an exhibitionist as if her flamboyant carriage and horses were not colourful enough. Somehow one cannot imagine our own dear Queen acting in such an openly provocative way whilst being driven in her carriage to the state opening of Parliament.
 I rather liked this masked statue perched atop a golden plinth, like a cross between a Catholic saint and a character from the Commedia dell'arte.
One float was given over to Ancient Egyptian iconography. I was particularly impressed by the fact that Anubis, the jackal headed god and the apis bull were on stilts yet still carried off their elaborate costumes with great aplomb. I remember seeing the great empty granite stone sarcophagi that had once housed the mummified remains of these sacred bulls at Memphis when I first went to Egypt as an undergraduate.
Being an occasional collector of antique blue and white transfer-ware china lacking as I do the means to indulge my passion toa greater extent, I was amused to see characters dressed up as a tea service.
 My very last photograph taken before the last rays of the sun had vanished from the sky was of an elaborate float of monochrome masks. After which point I had to rely in the main on a very slow exposure or else sudden blazes of light from countless popping flashlights to get a half decent a shot. I shall include these in my final instalment of the Night Carnival, together with a small clip of the giant robot who managed to install a frisson of terror into the masses, despite being extremely well mannered and affable.

Thames Day 2010: The Fireworks Display

Yesterday I awoke shortly before the crack of noon. It was too late to go to Kew Gardens and drop by Kew Palace so I toyed with the idea of popping into Hampton Court instead. Just as I was calculating journey times I came across publicity for Thames 2010. I was too late for Saturday’s festivities but I still had plenty of time to watch the night carnival and the fireworks that would signal the end of the weekend long celebrations.

I ended up taking close to several hundred photographs of varying quality and it will take me some time to sort through them all. In the interim I have uploaded the final segment of a video I took of the spectacular fireworks display itself. It must have lasted around 10 to 15 minutes in all but the fireworks were impressive from the start. I watched it all from Hungerford Bridge. I could probably have had an even better vantage point from Waterloo Bridge but that would have delayed me getting my train back home. As it was I managed to back at Brimstone Butterfly Towers by 11pm. It was a great evening’s entertainment for the cost of the train fare. Mind you, I noticed another reveller texting a fellow Council taxpayer chiding him for not being present. As someone whose taxes help fund the Mayor of London and thus the event itself, I think for once I got my money’s worth.