Bunhill: A time to toast the Teutons

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The Independent Online
CINDY KEEN is putting on a brave face. But in her heart of hearts she must be feeling that events have conspired against her.

Just a few months ago - with European unity apparently on course - few would have doubted the wisdom of staging an event imitating German culture in the heart of London.

Importing Oktoberfest, the Bavarian beer festival, seemed to make great sense. After all, consuming vast amounts of alcohol is as much a part of the British way of life as the German. But now Anglo-German relations are said to be lower than at any time since the Second World War. While Norman Lamont, the Chancellor, blames the Bundesbank for his woes, the tabloid newspapers depict Chancellor Kohl sporting Kaiser-style headgear, and normally reasonable people talk about Bomber Harris not going far enough.

All this would appear to have washed over Ms Keen, though. Accepting that such feelings might be running high in the City, she feels the general population is unaffected.

She insists that 'Octoberfest UK' - to be held in Battersea Park, south London, from 29 October to 1 November - is attracting so much interest that her early estimates of 80,000 visitors may be doubled.

The 27-year-old managing director of Keen to Entertain, she has previously organised car launches and polo matches. But this latest idea goes back to her childhood and family holidays in Europe.

'One of the things I used to love about it was that as a child you could go everywhere with mum and dad, not like England, where you had to stay outside with a Coke and a packet of crisps.'

Her father was a fan of the Munich Oktoberfest and early on, she claims, she thought of bringing the event to Britain. Later she decided that 1992 would be the ideal time for such a 'trans-cultural' event.

She says her idea was greeted 'with open hands' by Oktoberfest officials in Munich. In a spirit of co-operation that John Major would no doubt die for, the Germans are helping to arrange the transport of authentic Bavarian waitresses, an oompah band and, of course, the beer.

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