A most pleasant afternoon in slightly rainy Regent's Park at the annual Innocent Village Fete. And amongst all the duck herding, ferret racing, farmer's market and welly wanging (really) were two tents of live music. And amongst that lot a real gem in the form of a most admirable fellow by the name of Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer. This well brought-up young man has a mission to reunite hip-hop with the Queen's English. Welcome to chap-hop.
On stage in a striped blazer and cravat, banjo in one hand and pipe in the other, he led a half devoted, half bewildered (then delighted) crowd through a fine half hour introduction to the new genre. Songs about his old school chum Timothy Westwood, the ridiculousness of being forced outside to smoke his pipe (and the utter horror of having to do so alongside those Marlboro Light smokers) and then one about cricket written with a helping hand from that nice chap Ice Cube. During a ditty advocating the benefits of a crack cocaine habit in the pursuit of fame, it was a true pleasure to see so many small children dancing around near the front - none singing along thankfully. The set finale, a song which I believe is (and certainly should be) called Chap-Hop History took us through 30 years of hip hop references in about 5 minutes. Hearing a re-worded 'Fight For Your Right' accompanied only by a hybrid banjo/ukelele in a tent in the park is a wondrous thing. Those with the hip-hop knowledge had many a great laugh, everyone had huge smiles - it's fair to say the whole tent was grinning and cheering (and sweating) at the end.
Having read in a Sunday broadsheet (oh yes I'm classy too) only this morning about how new posh is trendy, this Mr B fellow appears to have timed his arrival splendidly. Oh, and I know he's from good solid Surrey stock, he's my cousin (he is so splendid that he designed that lovely logo for this very blog, top left). But there's no bias here, check him out - you will love it I promise.
A small p.s. I ventured into the Puffin Books tent, where children had the opportunity to write a story in a 4 page book which were all pre-printed with a first line. Finished stories were then hung on a big (pretend) tree inside the tent. The first one I looked at had the pre-printed opening sentence, 'Yesterday I escaped from...' The child however clearly had other ideas. The second sentence was, 'NO, there was once a princess.' Genius.