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Jascribble’s Bestival Adventure September 11, 2007

Posted by jasmingle in Poetry, Literature, and Performance.
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We got to go to Bestival for free. Oh yes. I know that this is well jammy considering that performance status was mostly awarded for three poems each in a mini poetry slam in a yurt, but I’m not complaining.

So Yem and I drag ourselves into Waterloo at the ungodly hour of 7.30 and keep dragging ourselves from vehicle to vehicle until we reach the campsite on the small the beautiful Isle of Wight. Everyone is clad in costume, scrappy haired, beer doused, bubble blowing, and deliriously happy. It isn’t long before we join them- at least, in turning slowly porous to the atmosphere which is so thickly airborn it is infectious even to us, exhausted, lost, and slightly apprehensive. Both camping virgins, we set up our tent without too much confusion (oh yes! as a city dweller I do see this as a major acheivement) and go wandering.

It was an entirely different world. From the moment we arrived in Portsmouth Harbour and wandered around buying sweets and taking pictures of the poster for Blackface circus, I kid you not, it was clear that you definitely don’t need to leave the country to feel totally outside a situation. I don’t mean that in an alienative sense, more that London is cushioning in it’s nature when you are brought up here, and many things you take for granted, such as ethnic diversity. Around the campsite (which was absolutely HUGE, massive areas sprawling around the valley, loads of different stuff going on) we saw a few more people blacked up and blinged up, which was bizarre. They stopped for a picture for us. I wonder what they were thinking. It’s worth clarifying that Bestival holds a tradition of dress-up, so most people were pirates or wizards or fairies or squid (yes, squid) so it wasn’t that these guys were dressed up as brown people out of the context, but that that was their chosen facade..

 We meet Charlie and Sarah and find our way to the Restival area where the slam is taking place. As mentioned above, it turns out to be a smallish chilled affair, with sleepy hippies and plates of fruit being passed around, and I think, this is bizarre, but lovely. The slam moseyed through with little tension, and was generally chilled and lovely. Adriel was spectacular- Sanfrancisco Slam Champion, performing later this week at the Farrago Autumn Slam, where I will see him again because I will be featuring. Hooray Cooray! Anyway, after some eating and chat we all diverge slightly and Yem and I go and grab some (very dodgy) food (I won’t go into what it did to my digestive system, you can probably hazard a guess, but let’s not) and see Nathan FluteBox, who Yem knows from The Aftershock Project with Nitin Sawhney, and who has a 20 minute set on stage with another beatboxer and a double bassists. He is fantastic, but depressingly short lived in his set. That happened a lot, actually- the next day, Beardyman was only on in his glory for 2o minutes before Kate of the Nash came and staccatoed her way through the air waves. I was not pleased! Why do these fantastic people not get more airtime?! Yem plants the thought-seed of a collaboration and I wonder what it would be like to hear Beardyman and Nathan together. for an hour. mmmm.

The rest of the weekend passed in a sort of chilled haze, lots of waiting for showers and people watching and walking about and, sadly, tent collapsing. As we condensed our belongings into nylon in nylon in plastic, I felt a tug, not wanting to leave, or at least wishing to come back next year, and to see other festivals, and be part of more summer havens in years to come.

 

Jascribble’s Cultural Catchup Pt 2 September 11, 2007

Posted by jasmingle in Uncategorized.
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Then there was the Regent Street Amazing India Festival.

I was largely underwhelmed. They basically filled Regent Street, central London with a few stalls selling handicrafts, a few troups of dancers, some rather crude fabric backdrops of the Taj Mahal against which people could take photographs, some shiny overpriced (again) ‘Street Food’ and a main stage with DJs etc etc. An entire street! If I or any of my creative compadres were given a street to ourselves to make the most of, I have no doubt at all that it would be much better than this. I imagine though the festival may have been intended as a cultural celebration of sorts, what transposed was instead the equivalent of a snapshot of someone’s Madventure gap year, laminated for the British public, and tied in all across the street with the shops along the way, discounts coming out of your ears and ‘themed’ windows. Themed windows are a such a fucking useless idea anyway because they are a) limited in their potential, and b) are too close to the viewer to suspend any kind of illusion. When you have real moving Indian dancers shaking past you jangling away, are you really going to be that enamoured with a brown mannequin in a sari-jewel bikini/sarong/matching flip flops/whatever? Ah, the delicious delicious appropriation.

DJ Kayper, on the other hand, was stunning. I caught her on the main stage on the afternoon, after fighting my way through loads of people who seem to have jammed in the middle of the street, like a chunk of dinner swallowed too quickly and stuck in your oesophagus. I looked up, and saw this black curtain of hair rocking over a massive table, laptop mixers and decks all like a mini fort against all these people NOT dancing.  I don’t really get why people weren’t dancing. I reckon it’s because they didn’t really know what they were celebrating, if that makes any sense. I stood and watched her and thought about how long it has been since I saw a female DJ or felt like a 13 year old boy with the urge to go up and say something stupid and ineffectual like ‘er, here’s my myspace, you’re like, wicked innit. yeh’. She was the highlight in a street of too little, and dredged up the designs I have, currently silting at the bottom of my brain, about learning to DJ. After drinking up as much fusion-mix (should be a cocktail, or perhaps baby formula for mixed race children) as I could stomach before my belly rumbled, I ambled off to buy an icecream and chill in the park.

Jascribble’s Cultural Catchup. September 11, 2007

Posted by jasmingle in Uncategorized.
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So I need to catch up on a few things. Having been caught between writing anxiety, isolation and also joy at events and opportunities, it hasn’t exactly been consistant. So I’ll have to break it down:

Film: I for India, the ICA

I never know what to expect from films like this, but conceptually it was great, cinematically unpretentious, and warming. Shot by one of the daughters, it is the story of a families’ migration to England from India, their correspondance with their family back home, re-integration and displacement, I really felt like I had one foot in either place and was slowly being pulled apart like a chicken wishbone. The efforts to stay in contact between Yash and his family come across as remarkable- acknowledging the two dimensionality of letters and scratchy phone conversations and accepting nothing less than better quality voices on a tape, real moving pictures of growing family, changing seasons. Yash buys two sets of filming equipment, one for his family, and one to send home so that every few months, news arrives, buffetted by mail, but still there.

Present day interview footage of England, India, and the family intercut with the crackly tape correspondance, forcing you to remember that the people in the old footage are alive, continuing to exist in their lives. It was slightly bizarre and jolting to watch their journey: itching to leave India, awkward in openly racist England, and then, later, too Anglicised to fit properly in India again, like a shoe worn so long by someone else it doesn’t fit your feet anymore.  Their desire to love India again was difficult- I could see, especially with the daughters, that they connected with their family but had become so accustomed to social British convention that it was difficult to assimilate comfortably beyond curiosity.

The director made some odd decisons in terms of intimacy and her presence in the story, insisting on always being behind the camera even in moments of complete heartwrenching sadness. As one of the sisters, now adult, boards a plane to live in Australia, the family breaks down after a short period of barely- maintained composure. I didn’t want to be there, in that moment, but I think it was important to document it to provide a tangible, present day impression of how hard it can be to leave your family- as the old footage was piecemeal and, having been made for family and not for the public, could not show us that moment. All in all though, in retrospect it was brilliant and refreshing in comparison to the next event………………..