Gallery: London, By London at the Guardian Open Weekend
Gallery: London, By London
Photos: Tom Medwell
Three days before the Guardian Open Weekend, we thought we were up the proverbial creek. We found out that Word on the Water, the boat on which we intended to set up our conceptual copy shop, was stuck at a lock closed by police while they carried out a certain murder investigation.
The morning of the festival was gloriously sunny. We arrived at Guardian HQ and considered our options. There was always our good friend Sarah with her Book Barge, who was at the festival selling her wares; maybe we could hop aboard. Failing that, maybe the Guardian would shelter us inside.
We paid Sarah and her barge a visit and our minds were made up. We’d told the people we’d be on a boat, and on a boat we’d be. Sarah was most accommodating, lending us her bow, which was perfect for us, our Olivetti Valentine typewriter and our collection of books about London.
Over the next couple of days, we constructed our text. Folk would come by, many visiting the Book Barge, but we’d apprehend them, explaining that we were making a collaborative story by selecting sentences that have been written about London, typing them out then mixing them up and making a new story. At the close of each day, le cool was joined by sub-editors from the Guardian Travel team, who had the task of making some sense of the incoherence we’d amassed.
We, Open Weekend participants, the good people of Twitter and the Guardian Travel sub-eds crafted a lovely tale. It’s a story that says that London has no beginning and no end: we choose where we pick it up, and it’s for this reason we never tire of the place. It is forever evolving: miss a beat and the next chapter’s begun. An ever-flowing narrative, like its river. And we can’t stop it even if we wanted to, cos we’re hooked.
See London, By London in le cool this week. We’ll also be publishing the names of the winners of our top submitted sentences competition and the full London, By London story here very soon.