Sunday, 9 September 2012


Today Leicester Market  is the lively venue for the second  Our Leicester Day. Voluntary and Community Sector organisations from the city and county (Leicester Council of Faiths among them) are promoting themselves and showing what they get up to, so as many people as possible can get involved in their activities. Our Leicester Day is a showcase of what goes on in and around our neighbourhood. A real diversity of activities, cultures and interests is on display, including street performers, musicians and singers among the dozens of stalls promoting organisations from all across Leicester and Leicestershire.

Last year, Our Leicester Day was plagued by Hurricane Katia. Even at a distance, Katia wreaked havoc on the displays, blowing stuff over exhibitions, ripping banners, uprooting displays and scattering literature. Never were "fliers" so appropriately named! The weather today starts milder (and warmer) than last year, which emboldens me to bring down our whole exhibition with all ten pop-up banners. But by the time I get half of them up, it's clear that even without a hurricane, the wind is going to be too strong again. The banners come back down and back into the drums. I keep the two "generic" banners up, with their feet anchored under the drums, but that doesn't work very well, so I do the best I can by tying them together. The wind is still too strong and they blow over (together) several times. They really do seem to be indestructible, thank goodness. It's inconvenient and annoying, but on other stalls it's downright dangerous. Once again, it's a minor miracle that no one gets hurt as some heavy gear goes tumbling down.

Our display is hardly excitement on stilts. I had hoped to put up something nicer, but discretion is the better part of valour, as they say! I wasn't going to run the risk of having our exhibition ruined by falling one too many times - or of it falling on someone. I was too optimistic in thinking we could do this without encountering any difficulty. It's not an outdoor exhibition and I shouldn't expect it to be like one. At least this time we have nice coverings for the tables. We share the stall today with members of the local Brahma Kumaris group (the chaps in white shirts in the photo above). Thanks to them for coming to the aid of our display whenever the wind whipped up. They have a very solid, chunky set of boards themselves, which gets blown over a couple of times before they decide to play safe and pack it away.

Our Leicester Day is certainly a nice opportunity to meet friends and colleagues active in the Voluntary and Community Sector, to make new contacts and to collect details of people who'd like to come to our future activities. But there are far fewer people here today than there were last year and I wouldn't be surprised if many of these absentees have stayed away because of concerns over health and safety issues. I brought Harry and Grace here last year and felt queasy about their safety more than once. Although today started nicely enough, I decided that I wouldn't take that risk with them this time. There was a debrief shortly after the first Our Leicester Day last year at which I raised the matter of health and safety, that it wasn't a secure environment, but it was dismissed with little discussion, from what seemed to be an ideological standpoint. I think it would be tempting fate to have this event in the same place again next year.

Major props, though, to John, Tina, Holly, Will et al, without whom there would be very little here! More power to Somewhere_to, Citizens' Eye and (as I discovered today) Citizens' Ear. Yes indeed but that's still to come!

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