So we made it! 31598km later and we’re back in Bristol! We’re currently trying to re-acclimatise to living in a house and not moving everyday. Its going to take some time we think, everything feels strange. The fact that water continuously flows out of taps, the fact that there’s more than one room to spend time in. The fact that we’re not outside most of the time, all feels weird. We’re sad to leave life on the road behind, its been such an enormous pleasure and we’ve felt so lucky to have been able to make it all happen and the project exceeded our most optimistic expectations.
We travelled to 32 countries in total, we recorded over 700 people singing love songs in French, Spanish, German, Czech, Slovakian, Russian, Romany, Finnish, Hungarian, Swiss-German, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Swedish, Romanian, Ukranian, Portugese and more! We met so many people and felt so overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of the people we met, and the willingness to sing for us. We were worried that when we returned to the UK the weight of the Brexit situation and the atmosphere of the country would feel difficult or a shock to the system. We imagined ourselves pulling up in the drizzle in Bristol and facing cynicism or indifference to what we were doing but instead, we pulled up in the bright Autumn sunshine and people were full of love and hope and enthusiasm and loads and loads of people sang for us and we remembered that the people of Bristol, and the people of the UK are warm, full of humour, creative, talented, brilliant people. It was a great ending to the project.
The next night our van was parked outside our house and someone grafittied it. Just a kid probably. It was a small tag but it felt upsetting to have the van de-faced. We managed to get it off but the next day, parking in a different spot to try and avoid it happening again a man came out is house and grumbled about ‘people in vans’ and said he had is ‘eye on us’. Both small incidents but a reminder that its a challenge to continue to respond with love and that people in all their complexity will not always have love to give.
But we will continue. This 6 month journey is over but we will continue to travel and to invite the people we meet to sing. The songs we have collected will continue to broadcast all day everyday on the 42 beacons we have placed across the continent, and we will continue to add more beacons so more people can travel to hear the songs, and perhaps find a space within their lives to listen to the voices of other people in Europe and hear all the loneliness, the heartbreak, the loss, the longing, the regret, the hope, the warmth and the love that they are feeling.
We’ll also be presenting a performance and exhibition from early next year in various places across the UK and Europe so keep an eye out for that, and in the meantime find a beacon near you and listen to the songs, or watch the videos we made from the trip, or listen to a podcast or read this lovely article in the Independent about our journey, or just think of a love song you know and sing it to yourself or to someone you love.