Covent Garden’s Market building turns 180 this weekend and I am its creative in residence, my task it to do what I do; to talk to people, glean sentiments, stories, anecdotes and trap them in drawings, poems or prose. By Christmas, I should have gathered enough content for a book. For twenty dates scattered through the year, I’ll based somewhere in the piazza, in an old Chesterfield-esq chair, (the kind you’d imagine by a fireplace with a bushy eyebrowed man named Arthur), by a small cupboard, lamp and waste paper basket - essentially a portable poet’s corner - from its location I perambulate inviting people to sit and talk with me. I’ve had three days so far and typically, members of the public are guarded to begin with, my visage isn’t what rises after the word ‘Poet’, but after smiling like a welcome mat and proving neither I or my pen will bite, stories flow out, the idiosyncrasies we all are graced with burns bright as candles and my job is to trap the light. ...And those who work in the piazza are such sources of inspiration themselves. From the street performer who hopes to retire on his son’s football career to another rumoured to have made a million so far, to those who staff the shops: French students studying foreign policy and international development, the Zimbabwean paella seller, the Portuguese-Angolan soap specialist, the Ethiopian coffee stall owner in the food market (where you can literally taste the world) - the piazza shows itself to be microcosmic of what is celebrated of London - it is transient yet historical, distinctly English yet incredibly international, where mud footed farm folk rub toes with the stilettoed.
As mentioned above, this weekend the celebrations really take off, family friendly with an elephant parade, performances at St Paul’s Church, Exhibitions, Food Market, events and workshops (juggling, singing) for kids, larger scale games for the big kids, jazz musicians, a giant basket race giant Covent Garden anniversary card which I am to sign, all part of the weekend long street party. I’ll be there from 12 - 5pm every day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, if you are about, come down, it is not worth missing.