The Tunbridge Wells Flashmob

23rd August 2003

I was first alerted to the Tunbridge Wells flashmobbing by Dave K. I visited the Tunbridge Wells Flashmob Project website & signed up to receive the details. On Friday night I received information that a contact for the mob would be sitting outside the Duke of York pub in The Pantiles area of town reading 'Our man in Havana'.

Tasj & I went along early & sat on the wall near where the contact was to be made. Sure enough sitting outside the pub was a man reading a book, but we couldn't see what the title was. So we watched him. & he watched us. For about twenty minutes. In the end it turned out that he wasn't our man, so if you were sitting outside the Duke of York reading while waiting for your friends & there were two people blatantly watching you in an inconspicuous way I apologise profusely.

A little later another man came along & sat down on a bench behind us. It didn't take us long to make out the title of his book & I went over to receive my instructions.

"You must be the man in Havana" I said.

"I may well be" he replied & he handed me a piece of paper.

Please assemble around the Bandstand on the Pantiles at 2.30pm.

At that time someone will shout 'SHARK!'

On hearing this, lie down and swim for your life.

After swimming ten strokes please get up and go about your business.

Thank you.

The Tunbridge Wells Flashmob Project


Tasj bought a disposable camera & couldn't quite believe I was going to join in with the stunt.

We watched from afar as others picked up their instructions from our contact (it was so James Bond) & patiently waited for the time to spring into action.

As 2.30pm approached a small crowd was gathering amongst the normal amount of bank holiday visitors. A lot of knowing looks were exchanged & straight faces held.

Then we heard the call of 'SHARK!' Down I went joined by about a dozen others. I was particularly pleased with my look of panic on my face. Up we got dusted ourselves off & then we carried on as if nothing happened. It was beautiful. The exclamations from passers by & looks of confusion on people sitting eating & drinking outside the Swan Hotel were priceless.

I think there were more people who were in on the joke than actually got down & swam, most of the other people were taking pictures instead. Which is a shame in a way but I think if there were too many people scrabbling around on the floor it would have lost its effect. I wanted to say hi to our contact afterwards but I lost him. Nevertheless I met up with a fellow swimmer walking up the hill, we chatted for a bit, & then I worked out that the man was local hero Chris, the mastermind behind the Tunbridge Wells Superhero hoax! What a great day. I spent the rest of the afternoon giggling to myself much to Tasj's annoyance. Here's looking forward to the next one.

Visual Evidence

We only had a cheap disposable camera so the quality isn't amazing & Tasj had to manually wind on the film so we didn't get many pics either but:

Another normal day along the Pantiles promenade, or is there someone suspicious in this picture?

Here is one of me posing as an innocent bystander before the moment

SHARK! Down we all go, there's me in the foreground. My technique leaves a bit to be desired, my legs are way too high.

This guy wins the award for swimming with the most style by a healthy margin.

If you have any more photos from the day I'd love to see them.