British people love to queue, they do, they fucking love to queue.
It starts as children when every year you’re taken to the local shopping centre or Harrods to join the queue to tell a stranger what you want for Christmas.
If you’re lucky his white beard is real but very often it looks like roughly torn cotton wool that’s been torn on a gnarly barbed-wire fence and glued together with PVA.
And, as he gives you a badly wrapped gift, you notice his hands are clammier than they should be.
Then it progresses to the middle class paradise that is the queue for Wimbledon tennis in June – where people happily quaff Pimms and wine while waiting to see their favourite players chasing a yellow ball on Centre Court.
There’s also the daily queue while people get the best coffee in their neighbourhood – because they don’t realise they have a kettle at home.
And the vital, but not usually very nice unless you get there early, queue for the portaloos at a race.
For 10 days in Mile End, East London, there has been a queue stretching down more than several tree-lined streets towards CJ Hendry’s Epilogue.
It was a queue I first joined yesterday (Saturday) afternoon with a friend, with the plan of going quickly before the Lauren Baker exhibition at 99 Projects in Kensal Rise.
It was a queue we also abandoned fairly quickly as there was no telling whether we would get in before it closed at 6pm.
So, getting up at an ungodly (for me) hour of 7.30am on a Sunday I made my way back to the queue in Mile End – and seemed to start at almost the same place as I abandoned the queue yesterday.
And, betwixt the holidaymakers from Dublin who were using WhatsApp voice notes to argue with their friends about where they were going for dinner and a couple from New Zealand who were going to give the queue 20 minutes, I slowly made my way to the church.
One of the women in front had helpfully counted how many people were ahead of us and how many were being let in for each 15 minute slot so we had a rough idea of timings. I finally made it in just under three hours after I’d started queuing.
There was an overwhelming sense of joy and playfulness with everyone embracing their inner child as they threw around the confetti which formed a thick carpet on the shell-grey hard church floor.
People were burying themselves in it for fun – and for the ‘gram – or experiencing being in a snow globe as the chalky white paper petals slowly drifted down from the blowers at the top of the church.
It was like the joy people feel at a wedding but instead of a happy couple being front and centre of proceedings, everyone who had queued three hours to get in was the happy couple.
And, unlike at a wedding, we were allowed the confetti inside the church, rather than forming a line outside and throwing it at newlyweds.
A cross and some candles were almost buried amongst the whiteness, perhaps signifying the end of organised religion but also being fully immersed in the very spiritual experience.
CJ Hendry started the work for this show three years ago but then you-know-what got in the way.
After finding the building her team then had to renovate the church’s roof, ensuring that the structure was safe after years of dilapidation.
They then installed custom-made confetti machines to make the building feel a lot like a giant snowglobe.
I read somewhere that Hendry feels the petal-like confetti falling to the ground gives a sense of death but i didn’t see it that way. For me it is more about a sense of childlike enthusiasm and fun.
Stay safe for another week!