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Rooftop Fête at the Queen Of Hoxton 9th July 2011

Ben Hodgkiss at Music and Makers Market

Written by . Published on July 19th 2011.

Rooftop Fête at the Queen Of Hoxton 9th July 2011

BENEATH the towering infrastructure of East London’s big money business on a thankfully brightening day, a summer’s fête garden party vintage clothing handmade jumble sale do-da extravaganza swings off of the starting blocks.

A tea table, floral and well stocked, homemade cakes sit in paper cases next to biscuit tins bursting at the brim, china cups and saucers, tea and coffee waiting, waiting, waiting and going cold, cold, cold.

Tea and cake on sale, burgers and franks on the barbeque, drinks poured freely, money exchanged, all under a comfortably biting heat. ‘Boutique Productions’ banners fly and flap in the breeze’s gentle weight, one such liberated article almost paper-cutting my cheek as I make my way to a seat. The infant rumblings of a hustle and bustle begin to gather momentum. A flock of Flapper girls from out of nowhere sip sunny cocktails and scoff hotdogs whole and most definitely glamorously. On entering, I am told to expect the black tide of a record sale soon to be underway somewhere else within today’s venue, – I make a mental note to check this out before leaving, only later to mistakenly forget.

Garden’s garlands sway to and fro, converging in a central water feature and today’s makeshift fair ground attraction, where you are invited to try your luck and ‘Splat the Shoreditch Tw@’. Or, if such an uncouth pursuit conjures unsavory imagery not tickling your fancy, how about the wholesome act of hooking one of many floating ducks as they bob about the small pond, waiting to fulfill their destiny? Hula Hoops lay motionless on the floor, I am unsure what for, yet present all the same, prizes to be won and fun to be had, roll up roll up. A tea table, floral and well stocked, homemade cakes sit in paper cases next to biscuit tins bursting at the brim, china cups and saucers, tea and coffee waiting, waiting, waiting and going cold, cold, cold. A quick head count survey from table to table and it seems alcohol is today’s favoured tipple of choice. A hum of people frequenting, the back and fourth, dipping and diving, weaving about what every table has on offer.  Jugs of Pimms and piña colada, brimming with diced fruit, sunglasses, short sleeves, sandals. Merry-making, catch ups and “happy birthday, mate.”

Worn clothes on sale, vintage and not so much, affected and ’50s and after a fashion, yesterday on sale at a fraction of the price, “There’s still life in those shoes yet.” An ever-eager saleswoman with a friendly disposition, compliments not spared, “That would look great with those… I tell you what, you’ve got the legs for these.” A silver tongue enough to make me consider some light cross-dressing. I jest.

One table offers a tie dye service operating whilst you wait, underwear, vests, cropped tops and T-shirts; here's one I made earlier. Perhaps you may fancy a brightly coloured mêlée of free love or maybe instead a more subdued palette of surf riders nihilism, all surfacing from the murky depths of the grey basin’s dyed waters, well-coloured manifestations from the stained hands of a pale girl’s pale arms.

Next, a well-stocked shop of patchwork boutique crafts. Small, paisley creatures woven from off-cuts of perfectly mismatched fabrics, favourite fairytale grandmothers and twee magical gifts. Handmade adornments and sourced pieces, flowers, necklaces cakes, teacups – all hand sewn in a polite muted palette. The table attendants look every much the part. Items are reasonably priced so you’re certain to find that certain special gift that you’d never imagined you had needed in the first place for yourself of a friend.

Next, a plethora of everything and nothing – all in the name of the charity, Hope HIV; all donations welcome I’m told. A motley crew of records, shoes, jewellery, clothing, even if it’s for the fact of giving your money to a worthy cause. I flick through the records, but nothing catches my attention besides questionable front covers of poorly styled musicians and odd graphic design decisions. Ironic choices; I’m sure someone here today will capitalize on one or two of these albums. A polite smile and thank you, I drop whatever loose change I have from the depths of my pockets into the donations bucket before moving on.

Finally, a table splayed with jewellery of all shapes all sizes catches the attention of women mostly and a display of bric-a-brac on the floor besides it is viewed by patient boyfriends with girlfriends on the hunt for a prize find. Nothing catching my attention, I move on quickly.

Standing under slow sun, I notice everyone else now; all seem to be devouring barbeque from half-finished plates, filled with carcasses and empty glasses. Courteous, chatting voices, smiling ketchup smeared faces, well wishes, friends, fun, frolics and thank goodness the weather is holding out.

A blackish cloud cues my curtain call, as good an excuse as any. The shared shrill screams and groans of the crowd confirm my choice to call it a day, finishing my drink I make my thank yous and good-byes. One last glance around the fête, a party still underway in spite of Mother Nature’s fluctuating temperament, a fun few hours of not taking anything too seriously. I’d sure to attend again if the invitation was ever extended.


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