I went to see what it was all about on Saturday.
I turned up, complete with 2 pre teenage daughters in tow. They are at the age when I am never sure if they really want to do something or if they are just going along to be nice. I have to be permanently on my guard as a innocuous comment from me can cause mood swings, tears and shouting. They are not like their mother one bit!! We had had about 65 arguments in the morning already but I thought that the mood might get better. It did.
Trafalgar Square was buzzing when we arrived at about midday. The band was starting to soundcheck, the usual stuff with a bloke counting into all the different microphones, the drummer doing a bit, the singer poncing around on stage trying to look natural and pretending he is unaware of the people watching him from the crowd.
I am sure there is some kind of checklist that people have to go through before they are allowed to call themselves singers. At the top of the list is the ability to turn up very late for rehearsals, followed by the complete inability to demonstrate any kind of guilt about it. About halfway down the list is dodgy fashion sense and, right at the bottom of it (in brackets), is the ability to sing. There is a similar list for drummers, but it only has two items; must have a drum kit and must have a car. The drum kit thing can be waived under some conditions and the car thing can be talked about too.
Anyway, we spent a good while ambling around. There were stalls run by Barefoot, Odel and many other well known Sri Lankan shops and businesses. There was a food stall selling Sri Lankan goodies. Lamprais, patties, cutlets, all the favourites. I think there are probably some people in Trafalgar Square still queuing for this. There was a stall selling fruit and vegetables, with Rambutan and Mangosteen. We bought loads as Mangosteens are my daughters' favourites and Rambutans are mine. Loads wasn't enough as the little buggers ate them all and I didn't get anything. Damn!
There was a big screen in one corner showing the match, interspersed with adverts for all the cultural attractions of Sri Lanka too. I saw the High Commissioner wandering around serving Ferrero Rocher to all and looking glamorous. She had even arranged for the Red Arrows and a few other aircraft to do a flypast at 1 o'clock. Those moments of sunshine, red buses, Trafalgar Square, and crowds of good natured people all looking up watching the planes were brief but memorable, particularly for pickpockets.
I would imagine the only person to feel a bit aggrieved about the flypast must have been the Queen. Half a mile down the road she was trying to have a 80th birthday party and the noise of the planes must have forced her to turn the music up.
We had to leave before the band started and, from what I have heard, we missed most of the partying and the fun. Pre teenage girls have a low boredom threshold and they get hungry and hot and bad tempered. I wasn't hungry at all and I didn't eat one of those massive steak Cornish Pasties that they sell at Waterloo station in about 3 seconds. Okay.
All in all it was great. It was just a shame that whole thing was overshadowed by recent events. There was a strange dichotomy in celebrating the beauty of Sri Lanka and trying to encourage people to holiday there while knowing that the country is on the brink of all out war.
I'll still be there in September though.
It made me proud to be Sri Lankan / British / a drummer / crazily mixed up / all.