From Common Reading at Clapham Book Festival to Common People ’17, lots of free music and the spoken word on a Bank Holiday weekend in south London.
It was thirty degrees and sunny as we lounged in deck chairs to listen to an array of talent, from classically trained singer Jocasta and her a capella celtic folk to BAC Beatbox Academy. There were songs and collections for Oxfam by Oxjam, stalls promoting local societies, including one selling flowers and veg from the Common’s own Bandstand Beds and the Sicilian La Baita Cafe did a roaring trade in excellent ice creams.
It was just as well that the temperature hadn’t been so high in the morning as the Cancer Research Race for Life took place on and around the Common. We saw a few of the stragglers crossing the finish line at about half past twelve.
The music on the Bandstand, supposedly the largest Victorian Bandstand still in use in London, didn’t begin until later in the afternoon. Deck chairs ( green, not stripey ones ) were erected at about one o’clock, though lots of folk had taken the organiser’s at their word and brought along picnics and they sat around on the grass. We happened along just in time for Jocasta at about two thirty.
Real Voices of Vauxhall did a twenty-minute set of songs, ranging from Fleetwood Mac to southern country, the BlackCabPoet entertained with poems inspired by and relevant to south London ( including my favourite GentriFried a piece about the corruption of a local greasy spoon by the artisanal but monied incomers ). Empty Cages played a good acoustic set, Marcus Reeves went solo and the Beatbox Academy, fresh from their recent appearance on the BBC’s singing competition TV programme The Choir ( which I confess I didn’t see ) left all who were listening amazed that they didn’t get further in that competition.
Everyone had a thoroughly good time. We went home slightly suntanned, wind-blown, but happy. Many congratulations to David Dandridge and Simon Millson who organised it all.
Common People shares a sponsor with the Clapham Book Festival ( tag-line ‘Common Reading’ ) in This is Clapham, an organisation funded by local businesses to promote and enhance Clapham. Clapham Writers will, this week, be finalising a report on this year’s Book Fest and we’ll be presenting some or all of that to our sponsors and partners. I’ll do a summary in a blog piece.
Since the Book Festival several of the authors who spoke have been short-listed for, or won, major prizes ( which I’ll also be blogging about later ). Sabine Durrant’s Lie With Me has been short-listed for the prestigious Theakston’s Crime Novel of 2o17 and Andrew Lownie’s Stalin’s Englishman has won Biography of the Year (The Times). So we continue in the tradition begun at last year’s Festival of bringing authors and books to SW4 which go on to win prizes. Let’s hope we can do the same next year.
For now, it’s full steam ahead with Storytelling and Reconquista at the Crystal Palace Overground Festival.
If you enjoyed reading this article you might also enjoy articles about other fetes and festivals, including Clapham Book Festival Begins…. Death and The Past South London Festivals Galore Local Music