After 20 years living in the nation’s capital I finally went to see Chinese New Year over the weekend, taking the Lovely Melanie and the girls with me.
The rain and cold didn’t help, nor did the crowds (although, we’ve coped with worse). But the real killer was that it was just a bit…well, dull, really.
We saw some of the parade from Trafalgar Square to Chinatown (not a great distance), and that was fun. We were confused by the inclusion of Morris Dancers – that most non-Oriental of the dancing arts. There were also pan pipes and some sword fighting people. And some dancers in glittery outfits. Um…?
But once we got to Chinatown there was very little actually happening, just thousands of people milling about. Stuff was slated to start at midday; so we went to De Hems to eat our sandwiches, drink a strawberry beer, warm up, and meet my friend Rachel from work.
We’d promised the girls Chinese Dragons, so after that, we wandered back down to Trafalgar Square to see what we could see.
And we saw:
- The Deputy Chinese Ambassador speak – in the rain.
- We saw the deputy Mayor speak – in the rain.
- We saw the Lord Mayor speak – in the rain.
- We saw the head of some Chinese bank speak – in the rain.
- We only heard the Mayor of Chinatown speak (in the rain) because someone came and stood in front of us with a stupid huge golfing umbrella held up high.
Rachel went off to meet some other friends, and we stood there shivering and still hoping to see some Chinese dragons. There was a brief moment of excitement when two dragons arrived onstage to have their eyes painted in some sort of traditional Chinese New Year ceremony.
Surely, we thought, if you’re a dragon then having your eyes painted is just the prelude to doing an amazing dance?
They had their eyes painted by the deputy Mayor, the Lord Mayor, the deputy Chinese Ambassador, the… Well, you get the picture.
Eventually, the dragons eyes had been painted by everyone on the stage (in the rain), they stood up, shook themselves and…danced their way off the stage.
And so did we.