Mourning the Queen – some events cancelled, others not

Image above: Sarah Moule and Simon Wallace celebrating The Genius of Duke Ellington

Shock at the Queen’s death turns to uncertainty and confusion

It seems an age since the death of the Queen was announced last Thursday. It will be one of those landmark occasions where in future years people will always remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.

READ ALSO: Saddened by the death of the Queen

I was setting up in the Boston Room of George IV with our jazz partner Larry Pryce for the first session of Jazz at George IV after the summer break. We wondered what we should do. In the end singer Sarah Moule made reference to the Queen’s passing and said how sad we all felt.

Across Chiswick in the marquee at Chiswick House Director of the Chiswick Book Festival Torin Douglas was about to introduce the first major guest of this year’s book festival, Dame Eileen Atkins. They held a minute’s silence before they started.

There followed a period of uncertainty as anyone organising a public event tried to work out the implications of the period of mourning.

Images above: Tom Stade, Allyson June Smith, Peter Brush; Saturday night’s line-up at Headliners

Too soon for comedy?

Simon Randall, owner of Headliners comedy club, told me on Thursday night he was not sure whether he should proceed with comedy nights at George IV on Friday and Saturday.  Stand-up comedy is topical and maybe it was too soon, but on the other hand he could ill afford to lose the income. He decided to compromise by cancelling Friday’s performances and transferring the bookings to Saturday.

“We’ll have to change the name of the Elizabeth Line” he told the audience. “We’ll have to call it the Charlie Line, but pretty soon it will become ‘the line of Charlie’ – and it does go all the way to Essex.”

Too soon? His paying audience did not seem to think so. The comics made a few other references to the Queen but on the whole decided to play safe and respectful and steer well clear of monarchy jokes.

“I think we made the right decision” said Simon. “We had a packed house an there was a nice atmosphere. I thought afterwards, had we cancelled what good would it have done?”

Image above: Audience for Dame Eileen Atkins at Chiswick House on Thursday night; photograph Roger Green

Chiswick Book Festival went ahead dedicated to the Queen’s memory

Chiswick Book Festival organisers also had to decide quickly. After the grand opening on Thursday night with Dame Eileen there was a whole weekend of events planned in several venues across Chiswick. From politician Chris Patten to poet Pam Ayers and Radio 1 DJ Greg James, the guest speakers needed to be told, as did the hundreds of people coming to hear them speak. On Thursday night there was a moment when they thought they might have to refund £30,000 worth of tickets.

Book festival Director Torin Douglas and vicar of St Michael & All Angels Fr Kevin Morris issued a statement on Friday morning saying the festival would go ahead dedicated to the memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in thanksgiving for her life. The start of the first session on Friday with Chris Patten, former Cabinet minister and Governor of Hong Kong, coincided perfectly with King Charles’ first televised speech. They played the speech live and went smoothly to Chris Patten remembering his dealings with the Queen, with warmth and wit.

READ ALSO: Chiswick Book Festival goes ahead

Image above: Catherine Pepinster; Defenders of the faith book cover

Children’s events at Chiswick Library cancelled

One of the speakers who had two minutes to give an ‘elevator pitch’ of their book on eve of festival Local Authors night on Wednesday, found herself catapulted into the limelight. Catherine Pepinster, who has recently published her new book: Defenders of the Faith: The British Monarchy, Religion and the next Coronation, suddenly found that not only did she have a whole hour to talk about her subject at the book festival on Sunday, but she was picked up as an expert by a number of media.

On the downside, the festival’s website crashed, with the volume of people trying to check whether events they had booked for were still happening, and two sold-out children’s events scheduled to take place at Chiswick Library were cancelled, as Chief Executive of LB Hounslow Niall Bolger announced the Council would be cancelling events in their buildings during the period of national mourning. This also affected an event planned to place at Hogarth’s house.

A couple more children’s events were cancelled and also the Georgina Moore Proof Party for The Garnett Girls on the Saturday evening, which they felt might be thought inappropriate.

Many people have told the organisers how much they appreciated the way it was handled – and that the event wasn’t cancelled and was so enjoyable. They are hoping to reinstate some of the cancelled events at a later date.

Image above: Chiswick Antiques & Vintage Market; photograph Frank Noon

Antiques and Vintage market cancelled

The Chiswick Antiques & Vintage Market which usually runs on the second Sunday of the month was also cancelled by the Council’s edict. Jennifer Titmuss, who runs it, told us she rang the Council on Friday morning .

“A lovely lady in licensing said she couldn’t imagine why it wouldn’t go ahead” said Jennifer “but she went away to check. I got an email at 4.30pm on Friday from the senior events officer saying:

“As a mark of respect the Chief Executive of LB Hounslow has instructed that all events and activities taking place on Council owned / managed land is to be cancelled. This includes markets.”

The notification covered the period of mourning until the week commencing 26 September.

“I didn’t say anything but many of my stallholders commented to me that they couldn’t imagine any of the royal family wanting people to lose income.”

Jennifer has lost several hundred pounds. She had to contact 62 stallholders, who would have been set up in the High Rd on Sunday outside the shops, restaurants and cafes which were all open as usual. One of her antiques dealers was already in Chiswick staying at a local hotel in readiness for the market.

Image above: Chiswick Cheese Market; photograph David Insull

Cheese market to go ahead

The Chiswick Cheese Market was also initially told it would have to cancel its stallholders next weekend (18 September) but the Council has had a bit more time to think about that one and to gauge the mood of the nation.

Organiser Lucy Cufflin wrote a letter to the Chief Executive pointing out that other traders on Chiswick High Rd such as flower sellers had exactly similar licences to theirs and were being allowed to carry on trading, and that other streets markets were going ahead elsewhere.

“The cheese market is an opportunity for people to come together. We just want to show our respects in our own way” she told The Chiswick Calendar.

She has received an email back telling her they can go ahead. The Council has suspended political meetings and is has cancelled celebratory events in premises they own or manage, such as dance festivals, but they have re-evaluated the status of the cheese market.

The Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Rajawat, said:

“During the period of national mourning, Council events and events managed by the Council will be cancelled.

“The Cheese Market, like other markets in the borough, will be able to go ahead this weekend. However, we are advising – in the strongest possible terms – for partners and businesses to consider carefully the nature of their planned events and whether their event is in keeping with this period of national grief.

“Chiswick Library is still open, and residents can write in the book of condolence.”

Image above: Brentford football supporters; image Liz Vercoe

Premiership football matches cancelled but community rugby went ahead

This weekend’s Premier League and English Football League fixtures were postponed as a mark of respect, though this decision was hotly contested within the game. That included the match Brentford were due to have played against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.

Brentford – Arsenal match in doubt

The club is awaiting updates about next weekend’s match but at the moment is assuming it is going ahead. The game between Arsenal and Brentford on Sunday could be postponed if it is considered the police are too stretched to manage football crowds as well as the thousands of people likely to be heading into London for the Queen’s funeral on Monday.

READ ALSO: Brentford FC Premiership match cancelled this weekend but Chiswick Rugby Club game goes ahead

Image above: Children’s rugby at Chiswick Rugby Club

“We have had 70 years to plan for this moment but when the time came nobody knew what to do”

The RFU have took the decision that rugby should go ahead, so both Chiswick Rugby Club’s match against Hitchen and the Rugby League match between Civil Service Stags and Medway took place at their ground in Dukes Meadows, as did their training and children’s sessions over the weekend.

Some in rugby were uncomfortable that their sport had taken a different decision to other sports, but the teams wore black arm bands, as is the tradition when someone important dies, and Chairman Kelvin Campbell told The Chiswick Calendar no one had complained to him that they went ahead.

It was odd though he said, that “We have had 70 years to plan for this moment but when the time came nobody knew what to do, so they had to have meetings before they could tell us what to do.”

Image above: Pygmalion, Theatre at the Tabard

Theatre at the Tabard opens their new show Pygmalion this week

For a small enterprise like Theatre at the Tabard, just beginning to find its feet after the new company took over the theatre in the summer, making a go of the autumn schedule will be crucial. Fortunately they had no performances booked in over the weekend and they do not have one on the day of the funeral.

“We would have cancelled if we’d had a show on the day of the funeral” co-director Simon Reilly told The Chiswick Calendar.

The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre confirmed early on Friday that, in accordance with guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, scheduled theatre performances would go ahead during the official period of mourning.

Theatre at the Tabard is launching their production of Pygmalion on Tuesday 13 September, “a lovely compact show with just five performers which is a lot of fun” says Simon. The show will be on for the next three weeks.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tributes to the Queen

See also: Chiswick’s new sculpture sparkles in the rain as Rowan Williams declares it “definitively there”

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