Moping Owl: Double Dutch

I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s just me getting on a bit: but I do get the feeling more and more that nowadays things are coming off the bat a shade too fast for comfort, and going through for four every time. Indeed there are moments when I’m not altogether sure what’s going on at all. I mean to say, I’ve always assumed I had a fair command of English, but too often these days what comes through door or inbox passeth all understanding but with no regulation salve of Peace attached. It often might as well be Double Dutch, if you’ll forgive my saying such a thing in these delicately-poised times. The last thing I would do is cast any self-perceived micro-slur or aspersion on the genial denizens of dyke and polder across the water, and, picking my words carefully, not at all on the euphony of their native tongue. The French, of course, are another matter, especially at the moment: as for the Scotch, Welsh or Irish, say no more.

But I ask you, what do you make of this? The V&A, it appears, has Tate-like imperial ambitions, and, as I understand it, is in active process of colonising portions of the dank fens and reedy bogs around Bow, Stratford and adjacent Essex, leaving the Dutch connection perhaps not so far-fetched after all. Just to assure us that all goes well, its latest bulletin goes like this.

“Director Gus Casely-Hayford unveils creative vision for V&A East’s two new sites in East London – a contemporary programme that platforms global creatives we’ve never heard of shaping today’s critical conversations, empowers young people and the next generation of creatives, and is rooted in the local community.” Are you any the wiser? Lucky you.

The plot thickens, as of course it always does. Construction is well under way, with both the V&A East’s Museum and Storehouse ‘set to launch’, as is rather alarmingly promised, in a year or three. I suppose those rising sea-levels we hear so much about must be quite a worry in those lowly parts. This latter edifice, or boat, “will offer a new immersive visitor experience (see what I mean: goggles and a towel doubtless provided) taking visitors behind the scenes (or shouldn’t that be below?) and providing unprecedented public access to (and this is where the old synapses might begin to twang just a bit) 5000 years of creativity.”

When your eyes have stopped watering, I’ll go on. Several ‘creative partnerships’ have been announced, so we can’t say we haven’t been warned. A Youth Collective Programme is to offer local youth “a paid rolling advisory opportunity (which sounds fun) to directly shape this new institution”, which sounds less so. Always read the small print is my advice to Sharon or Aziz, or whomever might turn up. And then there’s something called RESOLVE, described as an interdisciplinary design collective appointed to be the first Youth Workers in Residence: at which doesn’t the heart sink just a fathom or two deeper into the deep? Except we then learn that lurking in the offing is A Vibe Called Tech, a new creative agency and consultancy, founded by one Charlene Prempeh, the mission of which is ‘to explore the intersection of Black creativity, culture and innovation’, and farther down the poor old ticker dives, full fathom five.

Charlene, by the way, has already been consultingly creative, or creatively consulting if you prefer, for, amongst many others, the BBC, the Guardian and Frieze. She also has a regular column in the FT and is on the editorial board of the Tate. Oh brave new world.

So there we are, and there it is. And with such shipmates safely aboard and Captain Gus at the helm, the good ship V&A East sails proudly into the future, surely in safe hands.