cube orchestra / fourth plinth / trafalgar square

Andy Duncan writes

Dates are important!! Birthdays, Christmas, Independence days, the outbreak of war, victories, defeats, terrorist attacks. And so it was that 13 July 2009 will be remembered as another milestone in the history of the Cube Improvisers Orchestra despite the absence of some founding fathers & mothers.

The unearthly hour of 06 20 heralded the dawn of a new day, as I headed off to link up with Gerry & Steve for our trek to the Cube meeting point. A comfortable & (more relevantly) reliable assault vehicle had been commandeered by Oliver & there were a further 3 fellow musical-explorers, Moses, Pauline (from Feral Choir) & Jerry (making a rare appearance). We were drop-outs from musical conservatism & boredom although we had lost some other drop-outs along the way, fortunately not by them exiting the vehicle at high-speed on the motorway though. These fools may regret their absence one day.

Trundling down the M4, us slaves to anti-rhythm were bombarded by the strains of The Fungus Moth at Venn08, string abuse from Henry Flynt, Coldcut & some dub, reminding us that we were travelling from its capital in the west. Moses claimed that he would be looking for some loose tea leaves later but I am not convinced that he had those leaves in mind , I am sure we saw your dealer later in the day mate!!

Despite congestion on the approaches to the heart of the hub, we avoided the charge by fortuitously finding a parking spot near Ravenscourt Park tube station, although we were limited in our enjoyment by 8 hours. Negotiating the underground & its mass of peak season Euro-tourists we were advised along the route that the train had stopped at a red signal. Do they do that sort of thing often these days? We arrived at Trafalgar Square via Westminster in good time. Did we make a respectful sign as we passed Downing Street? And where the horses eyeing us suspiciously as we passed & was that a camera I saw hidden in one of their ears?

Arriving at the fine & majestic location, we found the 4th plinth occupied by someone who looked as alive as a garden gnome. However the musicians started to appear: a group of singers wearing Coma t-shirts ( our music designed to shake u out of one of course!). It did bring to mind the old Alien Sex Fiend ditty “She’s in a coma dial 999/911”!! So appropriately I donned the old terror wig that had worn at St Georges & Junction looking more depraved than Nik Fiend!!

Brass, string, melodicas, harmonica, percussion mingled & mumbled as the anticipation built. And now “The Ebb of Acrophobia” (or fear of heights) was about to begin. Appropriately Lawrence Reed, one of the co-composers who suffers from this condition was hoisted on to the plinth and appeared scared absolutely shitless. However his subsequent commands were clear, calm & encouraging via a megaphone. Some of us too were apprehensive of spoiling a grand occasion. However where was Barnabas, the other co-composer? Surely the nerves of the occasion had not prevented his appearance or was he hidden inside the plinth, secretly viewing the proceedings?!!

Cameras buzzed, tourists walked by with a mild interest, others stood around us unaware of the cacophony that was about to be unleashed. The music began, slowly, droning, humming, some vocalising, others scraping, blowing & pounding out pseudo-rhythm. The sky turned black, large ravens appeared, the 4 Horses of the Apocalypse screamed, the sirens wailed but the Gods realised that it was not the proper time to unleash a torrent of water & the clouds passed constipated. RESPECT!! Heat was absent too although perhaps for the best as prevented any celebratory swim in the fountains aftewards or turning Trafalgar Sq into a venue for Roman/Turkish Baths.

Feral vocalists sung & an impressive Soprano sang out her joy at participating: her talents were impressive & would not have sounded out of place at the Hungarian State Opera, which was being promoted by one of our fellow performers.

The final moments arrived, I had just started loosening up when was time to conclude. Thought about solo Fungus performance but that telepathic thought soon resulted in the dispersal of the throng! I for one could easily have played for another 2 hours or so. However I was also so intent on the work at hand during the hour that barely noticed the rush of the metropolis close at hand or even the stunning architecture that I know so well of course.

Just as we finished, with Lawrence shakily descending again from the plinth, Barnabas arrived. Had he been hiding? Fate had decided to play a cruel trick with her hand again, as he & his mates had incredibly broken down on the M4 & had had to travel by train from Maidenhead, as said timed to arrive at the exact point of conclusion.

Still humming from the great event we then headed to a local bar, Champagne Charlies where fine wine was had by all & hopefully new beginnings were forged in future successful collaborations between these fine composers & the Orchestra.

Later people had a couple of hours to do their own thing: Pauline sadly had to leave early so missed our journey back, but Moses got his leaves (we never did see the proof that they were tea!), & Gerry, Oliver, Steve & Jerry discovered some culture I presume. Meanwhile I headed up to Hackney, had a couple of pints of superb cyder (strangely was called Olivers) at superb pub there , the Pembury Tavern. Was there a twist in the tale? Well, we did all get back to Ravenscourt Park by 18 15, I breaking the law again by cidering on the tube although saw more blatant misusers also. Such is the comedy of our society. Maybe the twist in the tale is that for me London is not the ogre I believed it to be a lot of the time in 1990. Now more like a friendly dragon.

Is there any more to tell? Only that we had very good trip back, entertained by music from the Orchestra & some Khaled. It is a day that will be remembered forever, certainly by me. Every time I get the Nat Xpress now I’ll tip my hat to the Ravens as I nibble my beef sandwiches.

Andy Duncan.

CREDITS: Massive thanks to Barnabas for the invite & letting us be a part of amzing occasion. I can’t wait to see the film footage mate. Also obviously many thanks to Lawrence likewise, to Oliver for the perfect driving & to Gerry, Steve, Moses, Pauline & Jerry for being very good company & tolerating my comments!! See some of u soon.

View the webcast of the event at

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