Saturday, August 02, 2008

Polyvalent weekend

A sunny day for the Annual Mission Fayre, bringing a steady trickle of people through the church throughout the day, to browse the stalls, buy cakes, drink tea, climb the tower. Over 165 people ascended. One man surprised his girlfriend by proposing marriage to her up top. He'd been in touch enquiring about opportunities a couple of times. Bob Hardy, tower captain, was on hand with his camera to snap the moment. What fun!

It was quite a day for the City also, with the Big Weekend open air concert in front of City Hall, and a big fun-fair in and among the civic centre buildings. Of course, it meant far less car parking was available than usual. The fair site was entirely surrounded by Heras fencing for security purposes, with strict controls banning alcohol within the cordon, and lots of safety stewards mingling with the crowd to restrain the disruptive elements, and help create a safe family atmosphere. Just watching some rides, the way they throw people around in an atmosphere of very loud music is nerve rattling enough. This is the first year for some time when I didn't bother to walk through the site a few times and chat with people I know, ambulancemen, stewards, police etc. It was annoying enough to be compelled to take the detour right around the security cordon in order to get home. My word, I am becoming a grumpy old man!

However, I did enjoy watching the passage of the Carnival procession, with its hosts of drummers and dancers, swaying up St Mary Street, past the Castle, up the Kingsway and on to the site of the Big Weekend concert. It may not be as ambitious as Notting Hill, but it really is a credit to its organisers. Next weekend South Wales' Hare Krishna monks will be doing their own Chariot Festival Parade, following the same route, but concluding with a fĂȘte in Bute Park.

Meanwhile, over in Pontcanna fields, the National Eisteddfod opened in style. Clare received her A level Welsh certificate in a special ceremony for Dysgwyr (learners), and spent the day there with our friend Artie, who's visiting us again from Paris, and trying (as a good linguist should) to get her head around Welsh pronunciation - what an initiation! Across the Taff, in Blackweir fields area of Bute Park, there's a huge caravan park for visitors to the Eisteddfod. It's said there's be 150,000 visitors to the Maes (the Eisteddfod territory, where it all happens) during this week long event. I suspect there are thousands on the camp-site(s). What's amazing is how little of the noise of all this gets out into the surrounding area - unlike so many other events, dominated by over-amplified public address systems - especially when you consider how big an event this is, so close to the heart of the city. Such a wholesome contrast to all the 'popular consumer' stuff inflicted on the civic centre.

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