On Monday, a project I’d helped to work on won an Institute of Fundraising Award. This came as a rather large shock to me, as those in the know had knowingly and humbly informed me that we most definitely would not win. We were up against baby tigers and Christmas crises. I don’t know very much about, well, anything really, but I’d already mentally picked the baby tigers as the winner. Because they’re tigers. And they’re babies. Baby tigers. Not even the scientifically correct ‘tiger cubs’. No. These are baby tigers. Bonus points for the tugging-at-the-heart-strings factor.
So our lovely little team had graciously – and, as it turns out, rather prematurely – accepted our defeat and gone out to lunch to celebrate our nomination. (It’s an honour to even be nominated, and I’d like to thank my mum, my dad, my mouse mat…)
Kensington Roof Gardens was a highly enjoyable but rather surreal experience.
First off, as the name helpfully suggests, the venue is several storeys above Kensington, so the view’s a bit of alright.
It was a trainer-and-jeans-free zone inside.
Spot the Gemma.
I then had a lovely time stuffing my tummy full of yummyness, and snapping Suze and Hannah’s food as well as my own.
It was only after the Alice in Wonderland inspired petit fours box that things started to get curiouser and curiouser.
I discovered that there’s a fish tank built into the wall where you’d normally expect to find a mirror behind the sinks in the ladies’.
And the garden – presumably due to it being a party venue – made me feel a little bit like Samuel Taylor Coleridge having some sort of laudanum induced hallucination. The best way I could describe it would be as English country meets a kind of watered down vision of Xanadu.
I really liked this strange little garden. There was something very British about the faux exoticness of it all. We Brits do love our pastiche.
But then we walked around a corner and it got really, really odd.
Nope, that isn’t an ornament. That’s an honest-to-god flamingo. Living in Kensington. On a roof.
There’s something sad about how beautiful they are. And something extremely unnerving about how much they look like artwork rather than living creatures.
Don’t get me wrong, I was very, very excited about the fact that I was going to be able to see flamingos. I was excited about the fact that I was going to work in London, and then popping out for a spot of lunch, and then seeing flamingos. It was the wildlife equivalent of going to a supermarket rather than an independent grocers: a little bit cheat-y but ever so convenient.
And then, when I was done trying to take a photo where the poor creature didn’t look like it had been purchased at a garden centre, came the worry. Then came thoughts of logistics: of space, or lack thereof; of pollution; of loneliness; and – worst of all – of clipped wings and what it would mean to fly and then to never fly again. I felt physically sick when Suze told me the disgusting rumour of a drunken party-goer having thrown one of the flamingos from the roof, to its death presumably, its ornamental life extinguished in a puff of pink feathers and pain on the pavement below.
I hope this isn’t true. I hope they have a lovely existence in their little urban oasis, on their rooftop corner of Kensington. I hope they have as much joy in their lives as they bring to those of the people taking photos of them for their Instagram accounts and their personal blogs.
Positive thinking is quite the power tool in the fundraising world. And you can take it from me. As of Monday, I’m award-winning.