BORN SLIPPY – Park Street water slide is a hit

On Sunday Bristol’s very own Park Street was a beautiful pandemonium of people, noise and colour.


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Artist Luke Jerram’s heavily-publicised, heavily-hyped, ‘Park and Slide’ – which planned to turn Park Street into a 90m (300ft) water slide – finally arrived.

 

Photo: @NPAS_Filton

Photo: @NPAS_Filton

Constructed largely from blue plastic, good intentions, fairy liquid and some hay, Jerram’s creation looked endearingly amateurish. The artist reportedly turned downed corporate sponsors for the slide, instead relying on local support and a crowdfunding campaign to make his “playful response to the urban landscape” a reality.

First down the slide was this bloke from The One Show whose name I can’t be bothered to google (feel free to do so yourself):

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Our man seemed to be feeling the pressure of breaking the slide’s virginity; he was the very image of “palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” as he mechanically recorded the same link to a cameraman over and over, like a broken robot. 

He even asked for another float, worried that his initial one wasn’t quite pumped up enough. After much faffing he finally made it down the slide, a moment The Tab helpfully recorded for posterity:

It’s worth noting at this point that in terms of speed, a ride on the slide didn’t really seem to be the adrenaline inducing, eyeball-peelingly intense affair that some had predicted.

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That didn’t stop this IT worker dressed in a shark suit from telling The Tab that he was “really, really, really nervous” about getting soapy and slidey. The lack of speed certainly wasn’t an issue for shark guy either: he described the experience to me as “really, really, really awesome” between spontaneous, involuntary giggles and grins.

UWE’S Vice Chancellor, Steve West, was also having a good time:

Photo: @uwebristolnews

Photo: @uwebristolnews

Elsewhere Bristol’s red-trousered mayor, George Ferguson, was cashing in on the feel-good triumphalism of the day. Surrounded by a scrum of press asking questions like “What do you think of the slide?” and “Are you enjoying the day?” the mayor seemed in capital spirits.

George Ferguson summing up his chances at the next mayoral election.

George Ferguson summing up his chances at the next mayoral election.

The press herd, not exactly a fortress of shrewd inquiry, never bothered to point out that more people had applied to ride Luke Jerram’s slide (96,573) than had voted George in as mayor (31,321).

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It wasn’t the time for local politics anyway. Under weather that could have been engineered, cultured and conditioned for optimum gorgeousness, it felt as if everybody capable of horizontal movement in the city was out.

Park Street and College Green were swarmed by dog walkers, pensioners, toddlers, students, dazed spliff heads, white geezers all patched and mottled with sunburn, women clutching artisan breads and a team of transvestite grannies on pimped-out Segways.

Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty

Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty

Taking in all the lambent balloons, the LGBT tent blaring out Mambo no.5 on its speakers and all the girls wearing daisy dukes, The Tab was struck by just how much your average god-fearing member of the Taliban would hate a day like this.

Speaking to the BBC  Luke Jerram said “I wanted to close a road – if you look at photographs in the 1900s you see these beautiful empty streets with all the kids playing out – it’s an extraordinary thing and all that has been taken away.

“I’m happy to take over a street, and this slide is an architectural intervention really.”

What transpired on Sunday was even grander and more exuberant than he imagined. Due to the innate weirdness of seeing a street turn into a water chute, the slide felt like a refutation of the usual tropes of the British bank holiday weekend – shopping centres, clouds, motorway service stations, seaside towns – a refutation of having a crap time basically.

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On Sunday, for a few fleeting hours, Bristol celebrated a victory for what-ifs and maybes. Maybe it is a good idea to turn Park Street into a water slide, maybe Roy Hodgson will take Ross Barkley to Brazil, maybe not getting into Oxford/Cambridge (delete where appropriate) wasn’t the worst thing ever.

Maybe, just maybe, everything is going to be alright.