John Bullock Lighting Design
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Frankfurt Spirit


And it's welcome once again to WickiWorld the page that sheds light on the issues of our dim and gloomy past. And what an in-box we've received this month! Of course, with so many centenary parties planned we should have expected it, but boys and girls across the WickiWeb are asking: The Great Frankfurt Escape - What's that all about, then?

The events that led to the Great Escape began in Iceland, where a mad gambling fever had led to the entire population of that country losing their money and fleeing the land for somewhere with a better economic plan. The catastrophic consequence of so much weight leaving the landmass was the eruption of a hidden volcano that threw megatons of ash high into the air so much so that it blotted out the sun, and plunged everywhere into darkness. This meant that everyone had to have their lights working all the time, which in turn overloaded the generators and The Lights Went Out All Over Europe.

Now one of the great things at the time was The Festival, a time of great joy and happiness and often prodigious rainfall, and it was thought by some that what was needed was a lot of rain to bring down the cloud of ash so that everyone could get back to their usual lives. It was organised in Frankfurt, because Germany was run by a great Ring Maiden, The Great Merkel, who knew lots about circuses because she spent a lot of time in Brussels. So to help dispel the gloom, a great Celebration of Light was arranged, and light-makers came from all over the world to show their wares. And there were dancing bears and tumblers and tricksters of all kinds, and fair Brunhildes capable of carrying four litres of beer and an entire pig, all at the same time and often just for one Yorkshireman.

You all remember the tale of Ali Baba and the great cave where all the treasure in the world was hidden? Well, that was nothing compared to the gathering at Frankfurt that year. There were fantastic displays of all manner of illumination; great swathes of colour from the Orient made in mysterious factories deep in the mountainous regions where no western trader had ever set foot. No one knew where these light jewels were made, or how they were able to produce the fantastic performance figures that the merchants claimed for them, and yet the visitors gazed around them in awe and placed orders in great value.

But then came the time to go home, but while everyone had been enjoying themselves with all the fun of the fair, that cloud of ash had just kept growing and the airplanes had stopped moving. The Incredible String Band once wrote: Just a thousand foot high, way into the sky, was a pillar of smoke full of song. There was an airplane stuck in it, but I didn't notice at first it was so cunningly disguised as a dragon. Hippies, eh? What can you do with them?

But it was the getting home that brought out the true English spirit in all concerned. Credit cards were heroically wielded with great vigour and all manner of vehicle financially appropriated to move tens of thousands of people westwards towards the coast. Before collapsing with utter maxed-out exhaustion, the cards once again came to the rescue as cheap cutlery (though with prices inflated by the locals in revenge for the Siege of 1346) from the Calais hypermarch's was fashioned into surprisingly good replicas of cross-channel ferries in order to extort money from their compatriots/competitors in order to stave off the inevitable conversation with their finance director.

Not all of us were there, of course. There was necessarily a Home Guard, dedicated to keeping the home fires burning and just making sure that there was a home fit for heroes to return to. (er ... a home to which it was fit for heroes to return. Sorry)

RIBA CPD in 2015

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