Back in the 19th century, open spaces like Clapham Common were under threat until people got together to put a block on the development plans of the landowning Spencer family. Now there’s a latter-day scheme to enclose the Common, so they can put up tents housing 10,000 plus a big screen to watch the wedding of another Spencer, Prince William.
The royal wedding weekender is just the latest in a lengthening line of closed events, such as music festivals, to turn up on the Common. Some locals, like the councillor this week who questioned the Will and Kate event, moan about the crowds, noise and traffic, but I think they’re missing the point as much as event organisers.
Traditionally, commons are places where a bit of chaos reigns, where people are free to come and go as they please, where we have some escape from the normal rules. No worries about quick-witted types making money from the crowds that gather – it’s never stopped fun-fairs and ice-cream vans, for instance – but paying at the gate of a fenced in area goes against those happy traditions, especially when they want to charge £75 for the privilege!
Instead, they should make it a right-royal free-festival knees-up, then more people will come and they can make money selling Will and Kate memorabilia, possibly supplied by Kate’s family firm. Everybody’s happy.