The World's Smallest Festival
Somewhere In The South East Of London...
It’s a Sunday afternoon in late September. The sun is shining and yet there is a faint hint of autumn chill in the air. I’m on a bus, travelling to the depths of South East London to attempt to find a house, with a garden, where the World’s Smallest Festival is to be held, the brainchild of two guys, who describe themselves as “2 nim wits trying to a million pounds by any means possible”.
'Scene' officially painted, after over an hour on what seems to be a never-ending bus journey, I finally arrive, jump off the bus, head up a street, when I come across a front garden occupied by two portaloos, one could only assume that this is the right place.
One was indeed correct in her thinking.
Past the front door (gaffa-taped to prevent unwanted intruders, of course), through the side entrance to the garden, I find myself in a rather overgrown garden, where you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Secret Garden was set. Past one gazebo, complete with decks and a set of old cinema chairs, following an overgrown garden path I come across a very necessary food stall, through some more trees and stray branches I discover the main stage, tucked away in the very bottom corner, opposite an even more essential beer tent. Time for a Strongbow.
Tickets to the festival could only be won, by entering a draw, by text, at the measly cost of £1.50. From those, 50 people were randomly pulled from the hat to attend with a plus one of their choice.
The Pipettes were due to headline the festival, but due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ (translation – ‘we can’t be bothered’) they pulled out a few days before the event. How and ever, the day was fabulous, and the polka dot princesses should be gutted they missed the festivities. The day began for us with a lovely lady and her ukulele, singing some sweet folk, and then moving onto playing with some delay pedals and softly telling the tale of The Owl and The Pussycat.
The day continued as I flitted from stage-to-stage (the ‘comedy tent’ being gazebo number 1, as passed when entering), where a few friends of Donal (Mr Blag-a-Million) had been roped in to perform their various sketches/songs. The next highlight was without a doubt the Dulwich Ukulele Club (there were certainly no shortages of ukuleles throughout the day), who almost crashed the stage, literally, what with the fact that there were about seven of them on stage, manically dancing. They were also affectionately renamed the ‘Dulwich Ukulele Menagerie’ by the increasingly drunk, and increasingly funny, compere of the afternoon.
Later on, the beautiful Langley Sisters treated the crowd to a performance of their perfectly harmonised blend of folk and showtunes which wouldn’t have gone a miss in a 40s jazz club, there was a magician who swallowed some goldfish, and then the crowd descended upon the comedy stage/tent/gazebo where the legendary Mr Arthur Smith (of Grumpy Old Men fame in case you were wondering) treated us to some stand-up and a few readings from his autobiography ‘My Name is Daphne Fairfax’. Another 'trek' was then in order as the masses moved towards the main stage and everyone enjoyed a dance to Jarmean, a brass based group of lovelies telling tales of London, which led the night into its finale, where Mr Howard Marks (if by some ridiculous chance you don’t know who this is, get Wikipediaing NOW to save yourself anymore embarrassment) took to the stage, telling stories of his drug-fuelled exploits over the years, which is clearly, the way every festival needs to end.
After a final word from Mr Blag-a-Million himself, this time draped in the coat made of a thousand teddy bears to keep out the cold, it was time to go home.
What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon eh?
If you’d care to check out the Blag-a-Million project, and maybe donate some of your not-so-hard-earned student loan check this website.