The pride and joy of Greenwich: Head south of the river this weekend

'Greenwich has its own sense of humour - a cynical, knowing sense of humour.' After seeing lifelong Greenwich resident Malcolm Hardee's act, The Greatest Show On Legs, you may wonder whether 'knowing' is quite the right word. Although hardly the highlight of the Greenwich Festival which opens today, Hardee's legendary strip balloon dance at his own Up the Creek comedy club ('Jongleurs without the A-levels') reflects the organisers' desire for the festival to retain a strong local identity.

They clearly hope that, after a year's absence and financial reorganisation, the new, larger festival will rival its Edinburgh counterpart for variety and international names by the end of the millennium. What it lacks in the way of drama, it makes up for with a strong classical and jazz programme. Tomorrow, Greenwich's streets and pubs will be invaded by more than 30 jazz bands. The renowned saxophonist Andy Sheppard will also be appearing on Sunday, along with Greenwich celeb Jools Holland.

Those with a taste for the fringe should catch Gregore Gregori Schechter and his Klezmer Band tonight at Greenwich Pier or the Penguin Cafe Orchestra tomorrow. Classical highlights include acclaimed cellist Colin Carr performing Bach Suites tomorrow night and the London Classical Players conducted by Roger Norrington. With dance from Yolande Snaith and V-TOL, readings by poet and Independent columnist James Fenton, plus comedy from Jo Brand,

what more do you need? Decent public transport. Never mind, at least you'll be able to see the fireworks from across the river tonight and hear the odd sea shanty floating upstream. According to Hardee,Greenwich's isolation from the rest of London is its biggest asset. 'It's just like the old East End without the racism.'

(Photograph omitted)

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