Having got over our ‘difficult second album’ nerves delivering year two of the A13 Green in 2014, we felt quite liberated this year when faced once again with the acres of pigeon poo covered concrete. It is no exaggeration to say that we have fallen in love with this space and we now find it impossible to stand under the great grey shelter of the flyover without hearing the distant echoes of a drum and bass brass band, the happy screams of children watching zombie puppets twerking or the crooning vocals of Kenny Lynch OBE. If we stare at one of the concrete abutments long enough we can manifest the shape of a man doing Tai-chi surrounded by pink neon light graffiti. Turn around slowly and we can just make out crowds of people wearing hologram glasses and doing the conga to John Paul Young’s ‘Love is in the Air’
It’s been a huge privilege to work with the good people of Canning Town to create these magical memories in an otherwise bewilderingly desolate and unloved spot. There is a high footfall; sometimes a river and sometimes a trickle, but the flow is mostly made up of people in a hurry to get somewhere else.
The A13 Green has provided a much needed opportunity to pause; to be, to connect, to absorb the changes, to exchange pleasantries, to meet neighbours and to enjoy watching the kids run around. People come and they stay for the whole evening, come rain or shine. It is always a joy to see communities mixing together under a banner of fun and reclaiming this otherwise forlorn and sometimes soulless corner of their neighbourhood for themselves.
Surrounded by the hoots and fumes of non-stop traffic the Green has paid witness to the emerging landscape as, unrelenting, the new buildings have pushed their way into the sky. On the other side of the hoardings the noisy, animated, messy, fun and anarchic events have put the people who are at the heart of the changes firmly in the middle of the picture and three summers of love later we have a host of memories and new friendships to celebrate.
This year, with a smaller budget and a turnaround time to put the willies up even the most experienced peddlers of art, love and magic, we have done it again. The warmest of East End welcomes was once more extended to us and we have bathed in the soft glow of people shouting “Ere, its f***ing freezing can I borrow your socks!” and “My mum said she saw fairies here last week, did you give her magic mushrooms?”
There wasn’t the time to get our stalwart cast iron bandstand through planning this year but we were able to commission a pop-up version that is bigger and more twinkly than ever and has played host to a wonderful array of performances. As in previous years it’s all powered by the wonderful Silent Power solar company, the unsung hero of the events, providing safe, clean, environmentally friendly power so that we can bask in the spangly lights and dance to all our favourite tunes.
Highlights from this year have included celebrating Bettie May, the original Tiger Woman of Canning Town with show-stopping numbers from a special musical written all about her life presented by members of the cast, the effervescent Bikini Beach band, fabulous vintage pinball machines from Mr Pinball Geoff, sock puppet karaoke, cockney sing-a-longs with the Gents and cabaret from opera to Liza Minelli with the fabulous Samadeus.
We’ve had some new crew working on the project as well this year, fresh from some Brick Box adventures on Thamesmead estate: Lisa Newnham, Billie Tomlin and Anthea Lewis have done a fantastic job as well as our old BB favourites Dodie Lepiniere and Ryan Ward. Suffice to say that all our crew have had a fantastic time and can’t wait to do it all again in 2016!
We’ve also been honoured to have the infamous Mr James Collier, previously our much loved regeneration manager from Newham council, tempted away by the giddy delights of Croydon and tempted back again to run our bar this year. Featuring some exceptionally inspired choices of rum and the longest blackboard in London.
We do hope anyone who hasn’t had a chance to come down yet, as well as all of our fabulous regulars, will join us for a final hurrah and an au revoir this Friday night, the 11th September. It’s later than you think so we have squeezed an extra hour into the time / space continuum as well as Newham licensing regulations, to enjoy the A13 Green right up until 11.00pm.
Now that’s magic!