Decisions, decisions. Do I make a beeline towards the main stage for the Latin American set, do I go get refreshments by way of a giant green coconut filled to the brim with it’s delicious milk, or should I head straight for the sheep shearing? Such is the quandary I’m faced with walking into the Lambeth Country Fair.
I grab a programme, hurl my way through the milling crowds and am delighted to find I’ve arrived just in time for the ferret racing. Alas, before I know it I’m rummaging through a mound of bric-a-brac, beady eyed for 50p porcelain gems that would look pretty in my kitchen. ‘You take dat, miss, I throw you dis in fa free’, grins the Jamaican vendor, holding up a hand-woven bracelet. ‘Sold’, I reply, and happily hand over a coin.
I wander through the urban jungle of picnics, buggies and dogs, dodging discarded cider bottles, and head towards an agglomeration of white marquees housing the craft stalls. Unfortunately, my attention is once again diverted by a cluster of hay bales, which, it transpires, belong to Vauxhall City Farm!
After a short while spent stroking rabbits and marvelling at a chicken that must have been the inspiration behind Foghorn Leghorn, I get a tempting whiff of the Caribbean. I follow my nose to stalls of fried plantain, jerk chicken and rice and beans, and decide to sit and eat in front of a nearby music stage. My senses are buzzing as I absorb the soft rhythms, the lone dancers and the faint smell of weed all around me.
I’m a Yorkshire lass born and bred. I’m actually one of those annoyingly loyal northerners, who regularly laments having moved south into the all-consuming grip of London, even though the extent of cultural diversity in my home town stretches to a revolutionary new recipe for cheese scones. But every so often (more than I choose to admit), I’ll see something or end up somewhere that brazenly reminds me how lucky I am to live in London, which embraces culture like no other city I have ever been to.
I mean, where else would the eco-loving, village-like dwellers of Dulwich and Herne Hill, join forces with the hugely diverse neighborhoods of Brixton and Camberwell to create such a bountiful community event?
I’ll be the first to knock London. This polluted, over-crowded, finance-sapping, anonymous metropolis we have the pleasure of calling our capital. But I’ll also be the first to recognise those lucid moments of genuine appreciation for the culture fusion that makes London one of the richest places to live in the world.
Image by Jon Hadley courtesy of Flickr