Health and Safety was a lovely thing when it first came into existence. It came out of a world where your sofa was made out of explosives, and everybody was actively trying to set fire to it while you were sleeping. Beanbags were designed to kill people with death fumes. Everything was designed with nothing other than mass slaughter in mind. Thank God Health and Safety took our liberties to protect us from… bad things. Yes the everywhere bad things. And the killer sofas.
Sofas and the world have both changed since then.
London has been shaped by fire. Arguably it was the Great Fire of 1666 that burnt out the bubonic plague. The Globe burnt down, and Westminster Palace, and most of the landmarks have some history with fire.
Nowadays, Health and Safety is a bigger plague than fire. It feels like H&S completed the work it had to do (don’t make your clothes out of firelighters and then light loads of candles). In so doing it made loads of jobs. Gotta keep ’em. Now like all offices everywhere, it’s people making work for people making work for etc etc etc ad nauseam with only about 20% of the work being relevant.
I’ve spent the evening in one of the many disused fire stations in London. This one is in Borough. A load of people have built an installation upstairs. It’s called “Drive Dead Slow: Dodgems of your Own Mind.” That’s got to be better than luxury flats for Saudi billionaires to rent to our friend’s landlords. This evening was the launch of a bonkers thing and I was glad to be part of it.
It involves some beautiful old 1960’s dodgems. They’ve been refitted with batteries instead of the power line connected to the ceiling. There is a different actor’s voice in each car. It’s based on the plutchic wheel of emotion You get into a bumper car and you go on a short journey through the inside of your own mind. You zoom around for a few minutes and eventually vomit out through a great big mouth. It’s trippy.
I am working as part facilitator, part MC, making sure everyone comes back intact from this journey into their own psyche. This evening it was packed out. But it’s running for the whole month and, even if I’m doing a lot of other stuff, I’m hoping to be there for most of it. I thrive in this sort of thing. I’ve done it enough that it comes naturally to me. Come play if you’re ever near borough. I’ll try to publish my working hours on Facebook in the near future so if you’re near, you can come play. Right now I’m writing with one eye open after using every spot of energy I had on “press night” for the festival. I’m sure I’m going to write more about it in due course. Right now I’m off to sleep, leaving you with this alluring picture of myself and a charging dodgem. Here’s the link: http://mergefestival.co.uk/merge-events-2017/2017/5/12/drive-dead-slow-dodgems-of-your-mind-collective-of-artists-the-ultimate-dodgem-experience
Hope to see some of you there.