WORLD ZOMBIE DAY – LONDON 2012
Deadline: October 13th, 2012.
Manflu is a terrifying, debilitating illness; it destroys your sanity, your reason, and your humanity. Mocked by my cold-hearted sister who mistook my death rattle for a “little cough” and frowned upon by bosses for taking Friday off to choose my coffin and book my funeral, I decided to unleash a plague upon the world as vengeance. And what better place than the City of Satan, the Metropolis of Harlots itself? All London would fall under the sway of my infection…
It just so happens that the date I had chosen to unleash my plague was double-booked. That’s right, it was World Zombie Day, and all of Central London was filled with shambling, groaning, brain-dead corpses – twelve hours before the pubs closed.
I needed to ensure I stood out. How would the world know I was the plague-carrier, the harbinger of humanity’s doom, if I looked like any other zombie? So I went as Baron Samedi, Voodoo Lord of the Crossroads and the Master of Death. It just so happens that this Haitain Loa is fond of rum (steeped in peppers) and cigars, two favourites of mine, so it was an appropriate avatar. He also decides if the recently deceased will pass to the underworld, or if it’ll stay on this plane as a rotting zombie.
I was Zombie Bossman. As I made my way up the MillenniumBridge I chuckled darkly, knowing that soon all would bow before me to pay homage and spread my infection.
Did they bollocks. The effort in costume and make-up made by the participants was absolutely breathtaking, and walking amongst them I felt humbled and…well, slightly underdressed! It was like stepping into a Hollywood movie, with the expensive production values to boot.
Fake blood and terrifying contact lenses, and ingenious cosplay themes were the order of the day.
The Zombie Clown Balloon Seller was one highlight, as were the Viking Zombies and the Zombie Nanny.
There were plenty of RacoonCity’s STARS Special Forces operatives to police the event; sadly, some had already succumbed to the Manflu…sorry, T-Virus, and were our allies and not our policemen.
I met up with my old schoolchum Mark Doney and his two friends Bex and Claire who live in Somerset. After a pleasant drive down to London, with discussions on Glastonbury and the Bridgwater Carnival, we headed for the rallying point: the Tate Modern, on the South Bank, for the 1pm start. The organisers warmed things up nicely by inciting us all to groan BRAAAIIINNS at given cues, and then followed a Mexican wave, zombie style.
Then the Shambling began…
We were all psyched up with the BRAAAIIINS chant, so decided to find some amusing riffs on the theme. Passing a popcorn seller? “GRRAAAIIINNNS!” Southwark Station? “TRRAAAIIINNNS!”
Being a British Zombie Walk, it of course doubled as a pub crawl. How else to ensure the Shambling was authentic? The first stop-off was the Doggets Pub under Blackfriar’s Bridge, and two pints of Peroni later I felt more human and less inclined to spread my disease. The company of rotting corpses was slowly beginning to rekindle my love for humanity, and I decided not to spread my infection yet…
Back to the Walk, and then the heavens opened. It had to be done: “RAAAIINNS!” Over Waterloo Bridge we had our first pitched battle with humans: a horde of Power Rangers were crossing, and determined to take us down.
Over one hundred volunteers took part in this event by Morphsuits, and despite the company’s website claiming victory, their early ‘90s intergalactic karate moves and multicoloured Lycra were no match for the Baron and his trusty sidekick, Mr Golien. Somewhere in interwebland, there’s a picture of me administering the coup de grace to a shockingly pink Power Ranger and then attempting to eat his brains…
Things got a bit hazy after that. The next pub stop, the Ship and Shovel, was heaving, so we adjourned to the Sherlock Holmes on Northumberland Avenue, where we met with more zombies who had the same idea. Then my good friend and fellow writer Greg James (G.R. Yeates) turned up and we had a nice chat and some more booze. The only thing that marred this stage was some arsehole outside who was spoiling for a fight, demanding to know why the homeless need charity. “They’re out on the streets ‘cos o’ their own choice! I’m gonna kick my son out soon. You gonna raise some coin for him? Eh? Eh? Well, are you?” And so on.
We declined to pursue the argument further, tempted as we were to bite and infect him. A twat like that would not be welcome in our shambling ranks – zombies have pride, y’know. Besides, it was obvious he had no BRRAAAIINNSS…
Further haziness led us to the Glassblower. Or was it the Leicester Arms? Can’t remember. There was a bit of a dispute when it came to whose round it was next…
Zombie vision firmly enabled, brains left puddling in a gutter next to everyone’s fake blood, I came to semi-consciousness at the Intrepid Fox, a metal pub off Charing Cross Road. A perfect venue to end the pub crawl, and we were treated to the first of two sets by Steampunk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, who performed a song that has stuck in my mind for evermore (and very appropriate for World Zombie Day London) “Jesus Was A Cockney”.
Their second set was at the Leicester Square Theatre, where they rocked the joint and got us all in the mood for the midnight screening of Shaun of the Dead.
Here’s a link to a video I shot of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNvbEFld4TQ&feature=plcp
The film needs no introduction, of course; what was interesting was there were still plenty of photographers and cameramen taking photos and interviewing the walking dead. I was briefly grilled on my thoughts on Z-Day, and I decided to be controversial and said the Shamblers have had their day: it is now time for the running zombies to take over! Not that I was a good advert for this, of course, as I shambled off to the toilet straight after…but then, I have memories of my Running Man dance outside the Tate Modern as back up!
A fantastic day out, a real eye-opener, and a quintessentially British take on a global phenomenon. Rain and beer make the best zombies…
And Londoners are a hardy bunch; they’re immune to Manflu. Must be all that rain and beer. Baron Samedi failed in his mission to bring devastation and contagion to the streets of London, and a good job too. Next year, the Baron will be left behind and a new zombie will walk in his stead.
Perhaps a Power Ranger zombie…
For further information on this event and the worthy charity it supports, please visit the following websites: