Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Bristol 05 / Black Country Goes South

Sometimes, I hear my children speak the strangest collection of words and I wonder whether they have made up a sentence never spoken before. On Friday night, we went to Black Country Goes South, an event programmed by IC Visual Lab featuring an equally bizarre line-up of (I'm sure) never-before combined elements: Martin Parr films, a pork pie tasting, and a Northern Soul disco.

The first film we watched followed the journey of a Black Country pigeon fancier as he took a selection of birds to Mongolia, where pigeon racing is vastly more popular than it is in the UK. Giant gilt trophies, drunken celebratory meals, and coops on the top of skyscrapers made this an extraordinary look at this peculiar hobby. Next, we ate a selection of foods from Mark's Bread, with the strangest names - Fidget Pie, Groaty Dick - each one far more delicious than they sounded.

Then, a second film about Teddy Gray's sweet factory. Martin Parr introduced both films, and before this one he passed around packets of Teddy Gray's herbal tablets. We dutifully sucked and crunched until the room was scented with a strange aroma; the smell of the factory itself, according to Martin. I was completely entranced by the film - my brother and I went through a phase of making our own boiled sweets, strangely - and found the rolling of the rock hypnotic and soothing. Here it is if you'd like to see for yourself:

Finally, the floor was cleared and we danced to Northern Soul until the wee small hours with two of our best and oldest friends. I can never resist a good disco, and I've always loved a happening. Black Country Goes South was the funniest, most fun, odd, and very British happening I've encountered in such a long time.

All images © Jenny Hardy

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