Nothing is quite as British as a street party. It’s how we marked the end of the war, how we celebrate coronations and royal weddings and is what makes the London Marathon different from all other marathons. Give a citizen of the UK a better than 25 percent chance of sunshine, a Mr Kipling bakewell slice and the chance to drink tea in the road and they couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, street parties are not very compatible with social distancing or only interacting with people in small groups.
Which poses a challenge for the Great Get Together. The annual celebration of community was started in 2017 to remember the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox the previous year in an act of far-right nationalist extremism. Cox was a champion of UK diversity; her first speech in parliament included the words ‘We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.’ In the three years it has been happening, the Great Get Together has seen millions of people up and down the country celebrate their communities with each other at thousands of local events.
One of the biggest of them in previous years has been organised by Bankside Open Spaces Trust in the capital. And it’s not about to let a little thing like not being allowed to have parties to stop it from having a party. This year’s Great Get Together is a nine-hour whopper happening across radio and online. On Sunday June 21, the organisers promise all kinds of traditional street-party fun, including a virtual dog and cat show, a bake-off, live music, diver Tom Daley and Radio 4’s Martha Kearney. The whole shebang will be broadcast live on Resonance FM (spiritual home of backstreet morris men and the sound of amplified tea urns) and online. Nationwide, the event is taking place from Friday June 19 to Sunday June 21.
It may be the Great Get Together (but Not Too Close) this year, but it’s still a good excuse to swathe yourself in bunting and eat cake in the street.