Friday, 6 March 2009

Only in London Part 3: London Word Festival

Often people back home ask me "Why would you live in London? The weather and dentistry are terrible, it's full of poms... sure you can travel, but that's about getting OUT of London. Why would you live IN it?" To those people I reply with this series of 'Only in London' posts, dedicated to fantabulous - it's what the F stands for, remember - events so London-y you couldn't imagine them happening anywhere else. So read the posts, shut up, and go back to dodging sharks.

From 2009-03-00-London

Spoken. Word. Two such harmless pieces of verbiage, but put them together and people suddenly have other things to do. Although the idea of it appeals, I'd never actually gotten around to seeing (should that be hearing?) a spoken word gig. Thanks (again) to Londonist, I scored an invite to the opening night of the London Word Festival (check out the website if only for the daily random neologism in the bottom of the right frame). Sure, I felt like an impostor intruding on a sub-culture of which I knew almost nothing, but the local wordy-types were welcoming and friendly. Perhaps it was my man-bag. It seemed to be a compulsory part of the uniform for all males in the room.

Within half a pint of arriving, I was chatting to some of the 'natives' - one of whom is one of the very few born-and-bred Londoners I've actually come across in London. Despite the fact our origins are almost literally polar opposites, our views on life in the city ran along the same lines. Interestingly though, he professed that most of his Londoner-since-birth friends have absolutely no desire to explore beyond its limits, not even venturing to other parts of England. The concept floored me. Most of the world is on your doorstep, and (until recently) you've had the currency that makes travelling affordable, and you stay in grey, drizzly London all year round? Perhaps the wanderlust typical of the Australian psyche comes from something in our upbringing, or perhaps it's in the water supply. Who knows, it could be the fluoride. Maybe it does more than teeth.

As for the event itself, my performance poetry cherry was popped by one Tim Key and I regret it not a jot. Having no other performance poets to compare it to, it's easiest to describe it as like seeing a stand-up comic doing a particularly bizarre set, with notebooks. The 'golden fib' finalists ranged from touching to hilarious, and I may have embarrassed myself when I was the only person in the room to laugh at the joke about Schroedinger's cat. Tough crowd.

All in all it was a great way to spend a night out, even without the open bar, leaving me with an invite from the organisers of another spoken word event, and the lingering, haunting image of a girl, wine in hand, sitting alone in the corner of the bar playing solitaire scrabble... I've definitely never seen that in Sydney.

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