Through our network of spies, Gallery has been able to obtain copies of top secret plans for the radical reinvention of the Battle of Flowers – the first attempt to change the format of the event since the short-lived ‘nude carnival’ staged in the 1960s. Rumour has it that Battle honchos are rattled over a series of glitches that almost led to the 2013 Battle being abandoned, including slow ticket sales following a global shortage of blue rinse. Organisers were left with egg on their face following the failure to secure Alan Partridge as Mr Battle when it was realised that, although the gaffe-prone radio DJ is perfect for the event, he is not in fact a real person.
Angry Battle bosses have ordered a kick up the event’s metaphorical backside, and have secured the money to make it happen. Tourism funding is rumoured to be in the tens of millions, dispensed in the form of a handwritten IOU on the back of a napkin. Sneaky access to these confidential plans allows us to reveal to you the proposals that were approved by the all-powerful Supreme Battle Council. Gallery cannot be held responsible for any of the material presented in these pages, as the source of our leak is understood to be claiming political asylum in St Peter Port.
Battle of Flowers 2014: New Directions
Privately you will all be aware that the Battle has been on a downward trajectory since its heyday in the 1970s – a period we refer to as ‘peak Battle’ due to boom sales of wavey flags and post-Battle scampi dinners. The unofficial response for the last twenty years has been to inflate crowd numbers by stationing a large number of waxworks along the parade route, but this strategy was jeopardised when the waxworks vanished from their store room beneath Fort Regent and were employed to vote in at least one election for constable. As a result, spooky animated waxworks are now a majority in several of the Eastern parishes and must be paid minimum wage to attend the Battle in future.
The reasons for the decline in Battle attendance are not complicated – nobody born since 1950 has attended the Battle out of choice, and the cost of travel insurance for zimmer frames has prevented many traditional attendees from reaching the Island. Attempts to create a ‘virtual Battle’ that could be enjoyed by means of high-tech VR goggles had to be abandoned when it was shown to addict experimental subjects to Grand Theft Auto and prompt a direct rise in pensioner-on-pensioner violence. At this point, we consider that Jersey’s only option is to recruit the young: by force if necessary.
What will a young Battle look like? In order to design the 2014 event, we commissioned a focus group of young people by changing the sign on Gate 106 at Gatwick Airport to read ‘Discount Ibiza flight: Free Mojitos!’ The majority of respondents polled to say that a) they had never heard of the Battle of Flowers and b) they hoped that Carlos would be able to locate ‘some decent Garys’ before David Guetta on Saturday. Clearly, creating brand consciousness (or indeed any consciousness) in the 18-35 age bracket would be more difficult than we expected. Once we had ‘warmed up’ our airborne focus group with complementary Jager bombs followed by a few barrel rolls, the ideas started to come ‘thick and fast’. After cleaning the upholstery, we were able to identify the following as key suggestions with the potential to kickstart a Battle for the new generation:
– Make it more like one of those Brazilian carnivals”- Leo, 21, Bermondsey
– Do camping, all-night cider and strobe lights, like Glastonbury”- Zoe, 26, Scunthorpe
– Maybe have the floats actually fight each other, like Robot Wars, and have DJ set by Skrillex”- Sayid, 26, Leeds
A new venue: Battledome 2014 Acting on these valuable seed ideas, the entire Battle council went out and ‘got a Brazilian’. With this fresh, smooth perspective it soon became apparent that the first priority would be to change venue, as police expressed strong concerns regarding a mooted suggestion to “cross the Battle with a demolition derby and burn all the losers”. In response, plans have been finalised to transform the La Collette reclamation site into a combined race track and rave venue covered with a Wembley-style all-weather dome. Camping will be provided on the site currently occupied by the asbestos containers, and the glass front of the incinerator will be repurposed to supply ‘trippy visuals’ 24/7.
A new theme: less flower, more power Looking further afield for inspiration, we have opted to rebrand the Battle away from ‘family friendly vintage fun’ to ‘extreme steampunk survival’ in a fashion inspired by Nevada’s highly-successful Burning Man festival. 2014 floats will be fire-breathing contraptions of steel and sparks, evoking mythical beasts and the dystopian future depicted in films such as Mad Max, Waterworld and When harry Met Sally. They, and their brave operators, will fight to the death in a spectacular Battle on Sunday night, staged in the oily heart of the Battledome and hosted by Craig Charles with WWE announcer ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund. Music will be provided by Rammstein, Slipknot and Skrillex – compered by Mr and Mrs Battle, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson and Amanda Bynes.
A new experience: love, energy and chaos To understand what draws a young, loyal crowd repeatedly back to an annual event, we sent our fact-finding team to Berlin’s Love Parade, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and the Bangface Weekender in Cornwall. We also dispatched some people to experience the pagan ‘wicker man’ festival in the Outer Hebrides, and three months on have still not heard back from them.
In brief, we learned that the paradigm-shifting, world-class, era-defining event we want to create must embrace a way of life, must provide an experience that transcends the everyday, and most of all must allow everybody who buys a ticket to get properly munted. An electric carnival of sound and chaos; a voyage of internal discovery; an orgiastic celebration of human decadence: Battle 2014 will be all of these things and more. We cannot wait to blow your mind.
To hedge our bets and ensure our traditional audience doesn’t feel left out, we’ve decided just to run last years advert again in the Radio Times. If anybody asks, the reserved seating for over 80s is over there – between Truckasaurus and the piercing booth.