If it’s the beginning of May then it must be the start (or finish) of our quality of life survey. While we’ve already drawn up our list of finalists for the 2012 ranking of the world’s most liveable cities, we’re still busy reshuffling the deck and going out for one more tour to see who’s improved and who’s plummeted in the urbanism stakes.
On a rainy Friday afternoon during the close of this current issue we threw a few fresh metrics into the hat and drew up a list of editors and correspondents to dispatch to Minneapolis, Düsseldorf, San Francisco, Istanbul, Taipei and Boston for a bit of last minute tyre kicking. Once they’ve completed their fieldwork we’ll settle in for a full day of analysis and then engage in hearty debate about not only who should win but who gets knocked out of the top 25.
Normally we go away and sleep on it and revisit the ranking again and again and again – right up until we’re ready to go to press. In previous years we’ve made the announcement either in the winning city or at one of the embassies representing a lucky capital. Last year we hosted a party at our new residence to mark the occasion and this year we’re going to do the same – with a twist. As both community spirit and a strong sense of hospitality are essential elements in our metrics, we’ve decided to do better than just a host party for this year’s announcement. This year we will stage the first-ever Monocle Country Fayre at Midori House. Inspired by Kagoshima’s “Good Neighbours Jamboree” that appeared in our December/January issue, the Monocle Country Fayre will be part mini-World Expo, part upmarket church fête and part weekend barbecue with a few hundred (thousand?) of our favourite friends.
Kicking off on the morning of Saturday 16 June, our courtyard will be transformed into a garden of tents, tables, greenery and performance spaces for two days of games, cooking, crafts, shopping and sampling. Aside from standard fayre features like face-painting (my mother is in charge of this pavilion), a petting zoo – everyone can agree on goats and pigs but there are quite strong views about whether donkeys, miniature cows and llamas should be included – and a lucky dip, we’ve also invited our favourite countries to stake out their own diplomatic territory.
Midori House is offering space for the best that countries have to offer in the form of food and drink. It’s no surprise that some of the leading countries from our Soft Power Survey were quick to accept our invite and a certain Latin American country already attempted a rather bold land grab by suggesting they’d take over the entire courtyard as their ambassador felt their nation has so much to offer. Needless to say our foreign editor Mr Bloomfield gently intervened and told the diplomat in question that it wasn’t quite in the spirit of the fayre and like the rest of the South American continent they’d have to share and play nicely with the neighbours.
In addition to all the bunting featuring friendly flags, our senior editor Sophie Grove has been coming up with special games and activities for readers young and old. What started as “pin the tail on the shithole” has now been rebranded as “pin the tail on the nation state” and she’s currently getting quotes to construct a special paddling pool for “Somali Pirate vs Supertanker” model boat races. Our commercial team was quite excited about the idea at the beginning as they thought a major insurance company might enjoy sponsoring this event but so far we haven’t had any takers. The good news is that many of our top collaborators will be on hand with tables offering special- edition products developed exclusively for the fayre – including the lovely Nancy Durham and her range of lavender skincare products from Wales.
The Monocle Shop is working on a host of collaborations available just for the event and culture editor Robert Bound is creating a line-up of DJs and performers for late afternoon sing-songs. In his latest update Mr Bound was pitching his part of the weekend as a more civilised and less soggy version of Glastonbury. With a little over a month to go there’s still plenty to do, so if you have any thoughts or want to secure a place at the front of the stage drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or to me at email@example.com. See you mid-June.
For more from our editor in chief, read his column in the ‘FTWeekend’.