Last night I accompanied my cousin Rachel Nwokoro to the Totally Thames launch party, for 1-30th September Thames Festival Trust annual celebrations of the River Thames. Now at first, to any Londoners like myself, there’s not much to celebrate about the Thames, but I’ll explain why last night gave me a new found appreciation for England’s most notorious river.
When I agreed to help assistant manage spoken word artist Rachel Nwokoro, I never thought that I’d be going to a party purely to celebrate water. Yet last night reflected my ignorance because the Thames is a lot more than that.
Maybe it’s a mixture of seeing it for most of my life on the Eastenders intro picture (don’t worry I stopped watching Eastenders when I discovered Netflix at University), or physically seeing its grey, misty colour whenever I’d go to different places in London, but something had made me feel indifferent to it, like it was nothing more than a sewage dump, the same melancholy as the dark London sky lines and buildings.
Rachel performed a poem on her perspectives of different boat rides through the Thames. After hearing from Rachel and other enthusiastic Londoners who all had different parts to play e.g. Thames Festival Trust Trustees, TFL, or Watermen staff in promoting the value of the Thames, I got a real sense that this diverse range of people have a genuine reason to care for that collection of water that cuts across our city.
Last night I asked Rachel, why she thought events like last night are important and she said:
“Honestly, I think in this climate it is incredibly useful for young artist to build connections with large organisations that have the ability to facilitate opportunities in the future. The ever-growing crossover between the arts and corporate world does not have to be one met with disparaging cynicism. In fact, if anything, from my experience the more people I have met outside of the artistic community, the more I have realised that these people have the power but lack the knowledge of how to positively enact change. Events like tonight allow me to show people the value of what I do and how they can help to share underrepresented stories via their own platforms. I’m still rubbish at networking but something I am good at is connecting. I love connecting with people. And you don’t need a business card to do that.”
Last night taught me the power of perspective.
In her speech, trustee Olga Stanojlovic said something that really dawned on me, that the place we were at ‘Trinty Buoy Wharf‘ (the site of London’s only lighthouse) is one of the only Thames waterfronts that hasn’t been given the green light for luxury property developments. It made me think how long does that place have left? or how long do other places in London have left until they are sold to the international capitalists flying the flag for gentrification?
Then it hit me that the Thames is a free piece of nature on our doorsteps that I personally have barely experienced.
Surely the assumed smell or subconscious fear of falling in, is less important than the opportunity to admire London from a totally different perspective, or at least get to work quicker without a commuter’s sweaty armpit in your face?
Well, I want to try and experience London through this new lens because y.o.l.o right? lol so the next time you’re thinking of taking your girl on a hot date or thinking of a live motive with your friends just remember the Thames has loads of affordable or even free 😉 activities and not to mention tomorrow, until September 30th is the official start of the Thames Trust Festival.
So why not explore the one constant in London, because the Thames might not be like that forever.
P.S. I am in no way affiliated with the River Thames.
Chijioke Anosike TWN Editor