Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Thames Day 2010: Carnival of the night part two.

Now that the sky had turned black the night carnival could began in earnest.
Surrounded by various examples of marine life glowing around her, the winsome mermaid perched upon her throne sported battery operated LED lights in her headdress, as did her small handmaiden. The latter looked rather bored at possibly cold to boot. The semi-clad women elsewhere in the parade had their spirited dancing and the hot gaze of the men around them to distract from the distinct nip in the air.

A giant purple robot then sauntered down the road, operated by a seated man. Although his appearance was not of itself in any way frightening and if anything reminded me of a huge child’s toy robot, the thought of several tons of articulated metal suffering a sudden catastrophic failure was alarming. At one point the robot appeared to be stroking a man’s head but I imagine his actual hand was kept well clear. To reduce the impact of the Robot’s formidable size and bulk, he was equipped with a disarming voice that drawled Hello, how are you?” as its eyes appeared to alight on certain faces in the crowd. Or else he politely announced” Pardon me. Excuse me, Robot coming through!”
 Some men and women were costumed like giant butterflies and were almost as spectacular as a Brimstone Butterfly in all its sulphurous yellow glory.
The giant papier-mâché  Ancient Egyptian Queen was on the same heroic scale as the robot. I am not sure what the giant masked male figure was supposed to represent but I thought he did looked scary.
 One of the most incongruous groups present featured an Austrian brass band, all the men dressed in lederhosen with wearing the traditional feathered lederhosen hat. I was less certain what other groups were supposed to represent so just settled back and enjoyed the procession. One group held bright pink silk parasols edged with gold tinsel aloft.
 A man and a woman dressed in oriental costumes of predominantly of Imperial yellow silk caught my eye. The masked woman in particular had something of the air of the acclaimed English designer Zandra Rhodes about her.
 The giant man with the ginger hair seemed a tantalisingly familiar figure from a child’s storybook but he remained obstinately unknown to me. Ditto the blue eyed white furred gossamer winged creature behind.
 The next group seemed to be holding giant paper dollies aloft. There were some very young children amongst them and I admired their stamina and fortitude.

 Being a Scorpio I was of course intrigued by the illuminated scorpion. The monochromatic mask float was impressive too.

   Whatever this is I like it. hence its inclusion.

A man dressed as a blue and white tea cup and driving a table laid out for afternoon tea pedalled his tricycle ahead of his fellow pieces of china. I found the idea of both the men and women wearing matches pantaloons very droll touch. And where would any self respecting tea party be without a silver kettle, which followed along on a float of its own.
 I then saw more figures from Ancient Egypt including another scorpion.

I find it hard enough to totter along a street in high heels. How some of the Ancient Egyptians and other women in long white trousers and green tops managed to walk around in stilts for long stretches at a time I do not know. By contrast the red and yellow clothes bandsmen had it easy.
  One troupe represented the different parts of a dragon but as there was something of a gap between the segments as they came into view, it was not quite apparent at first that that had been their intention.
 The shows girls came next strutting their stuff and their mighty feathers. The lady in a long gown of pink feathers probably got the better deal in terms of coping with the chill in the air. A mixture of semi naked showgirls and fully clothed angels followed in her wake.

And thus the carnival dew to a close, allowing me ample time to promenade slowly back along the Victoria Embankment to Hungerford Bridge and from thence to the South bank to browse the food and craft stalls. Most of the latter were already packing up for the night by the time I arrived. Luckily I was able to buy a Polish doughnut. This along with a banana and a bottle of water from home served to slake my appetite, which had seen me eye the food stalls longingly. Unfortunately the long queues proved an effective deterrent as I wanted to grab a prime spot on the bridge from which to watch the fireworks display, which served as a magnificent finale to the day’s events.

If it had not been for the fact that I had woken up later than I had planned and so had not spent the day in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, I would not have found out about the Night Carnival and fireworks by the River Thames. The moral of the story is whereas the early bird catches the worm, it is the wise old owl that gets to have all the fun at night.