The media appearances made it sound like a lot of fun, but the reality was a Nuremberg Rally for foodstuff fans
Seven hundred litres of jelly glistened in its pool, reflecting the dying throes of the summer evening. The paper food stuck to my suit rustled as I was gently pushed forward. A chant started: fight, fight, fight.
My opponent, a school friend attired in white anti-chemical suit scrawled on with graffiti looked at me with genuine fear in his eyes. This was my first jelly banquet, and it was about to get messy.
The brainchild of property-PR-man-turned-food-stylist Sam Bompas and architectural student Harry Parr, the inaugural jelly banquet has been the talking point of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.
Architects from Grimshaw, Foster + Partners, SMC Alsop and Rogers Stirk Harbour sent in designs for jelly moulds which Bompas & Parr lovingly turned into wobbly pink deserts for the evening’s festivities. After their appearances on about every media outlet in the UK, I was keen to find out what exactly the gelatin gourmands had in store for us.
Upon arrival at the stately surroundings of University College London’s quad, the first thing that could be discerned was a squelching, bubbling noise which sounded like someone rinsing mouthwash around their mouth into a microphone.
This was part of the “bespoke wobbling soundscape” created by sound artist Douglas Murphy. It was all fine until Murphy dropped in a bass tone at an ear-bleedingly loud level, as if to remind us that this was art, and not just a bit of fun. Accompanying this were dancers, performing choreographed jelly-like movements, vibrating and wobbling their bodies, wielding giant spoons and trying as hard as they could not to laugh.
After queueing for our free cocktail, me and my friends wandered around taking in the exhibits. I was persuaded in the spirit of journalistic endeavour to put on a white cotton jumpsuit, stick paper foodstuffs to my chest and write slogans on my arms and legs.
Three game young things – two gents and a lady - had stripped down to their smalls and were going at each other like a pair of eels attacking a shaved rabbit
It was basically fascism for children, but with blancmange instead of handguns. Thus attired, I bumped into Maxwell Hutchinson, architect, broadcaster and SMC Group director who, in his coiffured finery, was about the most strangely dressed person there. Which is quite something when people are walking around dressed as corn-on-the-cobs.
“It’s like something out of the Third Reich,” whispered Max. I couldn’t help but agree, especially when we goose-stepped over to the jelly-wrestling pool. Three game young things – two gents and a lady - had stripped down to their smalls and were going at each other like a pair of eels attacking a shaved rabbit.
The rabble looked on, shouting and pumping their fists into the air. I half-expected Bompas to walk up, put his thumb down, and watch the crowd beat the pudding-covered trio to death with giant spoons. Instead, the crowds’ passion turned on me. Little did I realise, but our white jumpsuits were intended as jelly-wrestling suits – and, the original wrestlers having slithered into the night, the hunt was on for fresh meat, so to speak.
“I – I’m wearing an expensive suit under this,” I stammered.
“Gedditoff then!” shouted a particularly aggressive blonde. People started clapping in time. It was terrifying. I bolted.
Without a look back, I vaulted a plastic orange jelly and made for the exit. My friends were left behind. God knows what happened to them. I expect to see them cast in jelly for next year’s banquet. I ran to the tube and flung myself onto a train, where I sat, quivering gently.
Quivering like a fine, newly-molded jelly.
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