This week I did something unusual, which is actually quite usual in London – and in New Orleans too.
It’s springtime here, but maybe not as we know it. Cherry ripe, burning bright, in the forests of the night…
Instead of admiring pink blossoms as I might normally be at this time of year, I entered this fantastical fantasy land – yes, it was that pink, and that tree is made of solid dark chocolate.
An abandoned Christmas panto stage set? Selfridges’ food hall gone to seed? No, actually a promotional exercise for Pepsi Max going by the beguiling moniker “The Cherry Rooms”.
We entered under a soft spray of the sticky stuff, nibbled leaves as we listened to gentle tinkling music via headphones (which makes everything taste sweeter, apparently), and the experience culminated with a steaming glass of ice cold soda topped with a marble-hard liquid-nitrogen frozen version of the fruit itself (my favourite, as it happens).
One big bad advert? Yes. Fun? Hell, yes. And, like many things that are fun in this town, it reminded me of New Orleans.
First, the generous quantities of tasty food and drink – and let’s not forget that more than one cola hails from the American South. Second, the fun and sheer zaniness of it all.
And third, the reminder in the uncomfortableness of a promotional exercise for a sonewhat objectionable substance posing as a theatrical/artistic event that culture can’t be separated from money and commerce and politics, however much you wish it wasn’t so.
You can interpret that in New Orleans terms how you like – meanwhile, for now, I’m happy with the sugar rush.