Washington Despatch


The Stan team took some time out from the first day of the get-in here in Washington to show our faces at the British Ambassador’s official residence, a swanky reception was held for visiting artists and the great and the good from the Kennedy Center and British council. A be-kilted piper played as we were let in through the gates and although there was a disappointing absence of Ferrero Rocher the Ambassador did spoil us with delicious butler-served canapés and aperitifs. With the speeches over we raced back to the venue to finish the get-in and were stopped in our tracks by how the work we had already done looked. Now that it was dark outside the lighting installed by the Kennedy Center technicians added an extraordinary glow to the rice which was reflected in the polished marble walls and floors of the Hall of Nations and was complimented, both aesthetically and thematically, by the permanently lit flags of the world that adorn the length of the space. Even if we say so ourselves it was beautiful.

– some time later –

We’re now entering the final 48 hours of our stay and the show is being well received. It’s seems that it is not what the regular Kennedy crowd is used to but we’re attracting quite a buzz. The crowd swells substantially between 6pm and 8pm when we get the folks that happen upon the show on their way to see other things in the eight or so formal and informal spaces around the center.

Washington, being the political centre of the ‘free world’, is highly sensitized, some punters are finding it hard not to be suspicious about whether we’re trying to push political agenda through the show. It’s not surprising though when you consider, one way or another, around 300,000 people in this city (over half its population) work in the government and that the word ‘Lobbyist’ has etymological claims to being coined here by President Ulysses S. Grant when he would be pestered by activists while he was trying to enjoy his nightly drink and cigar in the lobby of the Willard Hotel. Some people are more satisfied than others by our assurances that our primary motivation is to simply tell stories – stories of no intentional political partiality. Either way the conversations we have had have thoroughly and engagingly explored the very nature of statistics and the standards and scrutiny we who make the show, as well as those who see the show, apply to the statistical information we all consume every day.

Meanwhile Jake got himself on the radio. You can listen here to him talking about all things rice and the Edinburgh Fringe with Faith Liddell, Director of Festivals for Edinburgh.


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