Pegging in the park

Bright sunshine in London, and I’m being paid to be in a park. I’m doing a piece about disease epidemic control and Llamas. I mentioned it a few weeks ago. The subject matter is pretty dry on the surface but it’s fun in the execution. I’ve got tanned deeply, while making money, and mostly it involved having conversations with bemused strangers about llamas and disease control. I can think of worse things to do with a day.

A large part of the time I was “Pegging”. But apparently there’s multiple meanings of the word pegging. When I said to two women if they wanted to do some more pegging for me, they reminded me that perhaps I was using a word that had shifted context. Pegging involves a woman with a strap-on, and a man. So I suppose I could go pegging in a park in the Kings Cross area. This being London it’s bound to have happened before. But that’s not what I meant by pegging. Not today anyway.

Today I had loads of clothes pegs with colourful socks attached to them. The socks tell you that you may have been infected with a disease that turns you into a Llama. You need to report to our tent for testing. I was mostly encouraging people to stealthily attach clothes pegs to the backs of unwary strangers. If someone got infected they’d come over to our tent and ask about the sock. They’d end up meeting a young epidemiologist from UCL, who would demonstrate a large model of a lateral flow test, which is the future of testing for outbreaks. You can have the test sent to your house super quickly and then use it like a pregnancy test. Then you get a diagnosis from a photo of the result online, and you haven’t left the house, gone on public transport, sat in a doctor’s surgery etc. People can be sent to treat you at home.

After they have their diagnosis they can choose to make some llama ears or facepaint themselves to look like llamas, so they can get used to their pending change of life. Then I might come and try and persuade them that perhaps the world would be a simpler and more pleasant place if all the people turned into llamas. If they agree with me they get a sock on a peg to go and infect more people. So it’s combining science with playfulness, and using the game to bring the next players.

I learnt the last time I did it that, on a sunny day outside all you need is two kids of about the right age and the sock distribution engine will go into overdrive. We had so many kids at Green Man that we had to ration the socks, and once again today two kids caught on that it’s fun attaching things to people when they aren’t looking. An hour after I met them, there was virtually nobody in the area that didn’t have a sock on the back of their shirt, hat, bag or trousers. One of the kids said to me as she was demanding more socks and saw me attach one to someone “Well at least you’re doing SOME of the work! More socks please!” For a moment I felt like a sort of reverse Fagin, teaching happy kids to add things to unwary people in London.LLLAMA (2)

By the end of the day, outside covered in wool, I was totally knackered. I’m virtually useless now. I’m off to bed. Saturday night!!

I’m doing it tomorrow (Sunda). Don’t expect me to be great company, but if you’re at The Courtyard Festival come and say hi.

 

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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