REVIEW: ChariTea Garden Party
LUKE HEPPENSTALL-WEST is suitably impressed by this year’s charity June Event
Tab Garden Party Rating: 3.5 stars
Arriving in Granchester Meadows, I was delighted – insofar as my brain could deal with any emotion that wasn’t my crushing hangover or malignant, alcohol-induced flatulence – to find this year’s ChariTea Garden Party to be not just highly enjoyable but also somewhere I could, for once, actually relax.
I got to the event about an hour early and was slightly concerned by the lack of “stuff” in the field: had it not been for the two large-ish white marquees in the otherwise empty meadow I would have cycled straight past.
As people began to turn up, I realised this was part of the whole party’s tone. With roughshod tables, no dress code and lack of a discernible stage, the Garden Party – a collaboration between the Cambridge Rag, Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours – was down-to-earth and laid back to a tee – a welcome break from the general indulgence and hectic-ness of other May Week events.
There was a great selection of stuff to do. Having no formal stage, acts casually mingled with the crowds. An excellent barbershop octet from Trinity arrived by punt and wandered around regaling everyone with hits from the 1940s and renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody, and the Impronaut’s show (which I think, without a hint of bias, went down quite well) was held between two trees, making the performance both relaxed and informal.
You could do a myriad of other things too, from facepainting and bouncy castle-ing to embarrassing yourself on the coconut shy. You could punt, or just chill out and listen to one of the several jazz bands which were providing backing music throughout the event.
No review would be complete without a nod to ChariTea’s “Headliner” Peter Singer, who kept guests entertained not least by making them imagine the board meeting where someone said “you know what this party needs? A 68-year-old Moral Philosopher. That’ll be rad”.
The food was good, for a Garden Party. Some people complained that it was predominantly vegetarian, but there was still a great deal of choice and – most importantly – lots of cake. The do-it-yourself scones were a nice touch, and I spent about 30 minutes at the cheese table.
Great if you like Pimms or Bitter, perhaps not a great deal of choice between these two extremes. But hey, there was lots to go around and it was all free* so I’m not going to complain.
Quality of Grass: 2/5
Of course, the most important constituent of any Garden Party, and Charitea’s biggest weakness. The grass was, I’m afraid to admit, shoddy. There were thistles. It was unevenly cut. There were insects. It was all just a bit too, you know, natural.
Value for Money: N/A
It’s for charity. Don’t be stingy.
Most importantly, the event raised £3,000. RAG President Kieran Hammond told The Tab:
“I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is a bit of a revolution in the way that Garden Parties and May Balls are approached. Such events have been criticised as indulgent for years, so to have one that aims at altruism is very different.”
All in all, the ChariTea Garden Party was a great event: relaxed, entertaining and thoroughly worthwhile. Shame about the grass.