By SallyB2 Last edited 136 months ago

….you’re just pootling along the high street, minding your (or everybody else’s, if you’re a Londonist) business, when what do you espy? A piano. Just perched there on the pavement.

You rub your eyes, and make a vow to cut back a bit on the old Lambrusco/JD/what you will. It cannot be.

Ah, you think, it’s a practical joke: there’s a hidden camera somewhere….

Well, this slightly Python-esque scene is likely to be played out at several spots around the capital in the near future. And it is all in the name of peace.

The piano isn’t any old honky-tonk model, but rather the very same piano on which John Lennon composed ‘Imagine’. It was bought by George Michael in 2000 for an unfeasibly large sum of money, and he and his partner are behind the Imagine Piano Peace Project. The idea is to take the instrument to locations which have witnessed moments of great tragedy or violence, and encourage people to interact with it and take a moment to reflect. The song Imagine is to be performed at each place, and the photographs taken to capture these renditions will go into a commemorative book.

It has been a busy piano this year, having toured sundry venues with a grizzly history in the States - Waco, Virginia Tech, Dallas – amid controversy.

While many applaud the tour as a powerful artistic statement, some critics accuse Michael - whose stage show has featured an unsubtle attack on George W Bush for the Iraq war - of being naive and intruding on victims’ grief.

And it is now coming to London. Performances are planned at the spot where Stephen Lawrence was murdered, along with the locations of the 7/7 bombings, and the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho.

Now Londonist is all for world peace, and anything which serves to help build peace gets our vote. But we would like to know whence comes this fascination with ‘the actual spot’ where horrors have been perpetrated. In some Catholic and Orthodox countries, it is practice for the family of accident victims to erect a permanent roadside shrine, with icons and flowers and candles. But business of laying flowers and weeping cathartically at the site of a fatal accident or murder is, to the best of this Londonist’s knowledge, new to the famously reserved British. Is it because we are enjoying an unprecedented period of relative peace and comfort that our thoughts turn to this tragedy tourism? Or is it because we are bombarded with so much information via the internet and television that none of it feels real any more? Is this morbid curiosity a way to feel the pain?

We wish the piano good luck with its peace tour. But we are not entirely sure that the use of these locations will have the desired effect….

Image care of charmingman’s flickr stream.

Last Updated 03 September 2007