Delivering a hard-hitting message at the Carnival.
If you've been following my blog, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook page, it won't have escaped you that Revolution took place in this year's Farnham carnival parade. Long before I'd launched my counselling business, one thing I was determined to do was to make talking therapy more visible, more 'out there', and I was hell bent on doing a carnival parade. By some sort of universe-sent synchronicity, my friend, Vivienne, happened to mention that 2018's Farnham carnival theme was 'rock & pop legends'. 'Perfect!' I thought. 'We can be the 27 Club!' And so, a somewhat controversial and typically madcap scheme was born and I set about enrolling my volunteers...
My vision for our parade entry was inspired by a photography exhibition I saw in Camden more than a decade ago. It was a collection of photographs of musicians, such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morisson and Kurt Cobain. What links these artists? They all died on or before the age of 27. As I was studying these pictures, I couldn't help but feel a sense of waste these people with bags of energy and talent died so young. As I stood there, the realisation that I was already older than they were when they died hit me with force. The causes of their deaths ranged from accidents, misadventure, suicide (often as a result of depression) and drug and alcohol abuse. The perfect themes for a family day at the carnival, right?
I'm not going to lie: we weren't your stereotypical carnival entry. Sandwiched between a dance troupe with a Wham! theme, and some people dressed as the Easter Island rocks, was us in our black sashes which said the name of the rock legend we were and how we'd died. I was Kurt Cobain, my husband was Jim Morrison (and tasked with driving my brother's Knight Rider inspired vintage Supra), Helen was Janis Joplin, Jenny was Amy Winehouse, Derek was Nick Drake, and Richard was Jimi Hendrix. The message of our entry was simple and powerful: 'The 27 Club: don't join them; learn from them. There's ALWAYS someone to talk to.'
When a lady of advanced years came to judge our entry, she asked us what we were all about. When I told her, she nearly fainted, made a stifled sound of horror and said 'Gosh! Keep it light!' Happily, we won silver (I'd like to think for our costumes and our powerful message), but I think it's a shame that some people think carnivals and family events should be devoid of powerful and hard-hitting messages. I truly believe that, in spite of all the sunshine, beer and balloons that day, there would have been people in the crowd who, like Nick Drake, were in the depths of despair. I like to think our parade entry made them feel heard and represented. In my mind, family events shouldn't be sanitised so as to omit the realities of life; they should be an arena in which such things are normalised and openly discussed.
The sense of surprise that a bunch of therapists were taking part in the parade was palapable throughout: as we got towards Gostrey Meadows, there was a man on loud speaker announcing the entries as they went past. He was somewhat lost for words when he got to us and I don't think he knew quite what to say because we weren't singing, dancing, or representing a primary school.
As we went around the parade route, we handed out a wellbeing voucher made up of six vouchers from six different local wellbeing professionals: myself, counsellor at 'Revolution', Vivienne Evans of 'Hypnohealth', Helen and Dympna from professional decluttering business 'Your Space Sorted', Osteopath Richard Lane, fellow talking therapist Tracey Newman of 'QuietMindful' and Sarah Matthews of 'Grey Stars Baby Massage'. With our wellbeing voucher, we hope to promote the fact that there really is always someone to talk to. We also wanted to encourage the use of holistic, non-medical therapies and interventions by offering £5 off an initial session with the professional of your choice.
I'd like to thank all who put their neck out and took part in Revolution's carnival entry. We raised a few eyebrows and certainly gave counselling a chance to be seen somewhere it normally isn't! I'd also like to thank the Farnham Hedgehogs for letting us take part and for our silver award. I hope you'll let us back next year ....
If you missed the carnival and would like a chance to get one of our limited edition wellbeing vouchers, you can download one by following this link: https://www.revolutionpsychotherapy.com/promotions or by going to our promotions page.