Staff at the Crystal Palace Museum say that they still get confused tourists asking where the
Palace is. "But the bus said Crystal Palace. I've always wanted to see the Crystal Palace." So have we all.
Travis found an image of it on his smartphone and held it up against the park where it once stood, hovering the phone just above the seemingly endless field of foundation stones. "That was big," he said.
The Overground Festival was in nearby Westow Park. It was overrun with children, teenagers, young, middle-aged and old. Andrea and I had to change into our 20s frocks in the back of an ice-truck. She was in shell-pink, I in fuchsia pink. The bandstand played host to Pogues covers, Reggae, blues, and then...the Lovely Parlour Band.
As John Baker was busy being married, and Nick and Matt busy playing music for the occasion, and Orpheus busy sunning himself in Greece, it was a rather different band. Simon heroically rushed from John's wedding to play his marvellous, creative and sensitive clarinet, and two magnificent musicians became Lovely Parlourites: former U.S. Navy Travis Finch and his mandolin, and Peter Sachett (pronounced Sackett, though I did it wrongly on the stage) on his rich violin. Andrea carefully altered her parts to include John's bass notes, and Travis gave all of Nick's fills and cues for me, as well as being Matt!
A small gaggle of children sat in a line in front of us, and even danced. many other people seemed to like us too. We were given as many drinks as we liked and I got a little wasted on Perry. Staggering around smiling uproariously afterward, the rest of the parlour Band didn't let me get into trouble, and we were asked to pose for lots of photos. After one of them I said "gah, I'm sure I looked like sh*t, but thankyou." A woman looked daggers at me. Beside her sat her young daughter. But only a few places away, some youths were smoking weed.
"Bouncy Castles!" I said.
"I've always wanted to go on a bouncy castle," said Travis.
"You! The U.S. Navy would have to construct one. How much do you weigh?"
At this point we were sidetracked by masked revellers. Five minutes later, Travis said "Two- thirty."
"Is it really? Wow we've got loads of afternoon left!"
We all went to a very classy Italian joint, chosen by Andrea, and then we
walked over to the 1852 dinosaur sculptures (1852! Before the Origin of the Species was published!). I think we all adored them. The day was dimming down. It was magical.
I remember these when they were a few weird heads and tails poking out from brambles and Tesco bags, behind wire fencing.
Now, restored, they look magnificent, exactly what must have haunted the dreams of Victorian children for years and years.