Monday was a public holiday over here in London England
, and also the day of the Notting Hill Carnival
. I can’t recommend the Notting Hil
to anyone. We got there around noon, and it wasn’t very full. However it was filling up and it got very crowded by the time that I left around 6pm During the course of the afternoon I consumed:
By the time I got home I had a splitting headache and was physically ill
. Yuk. Food poisoning
or just poor choice of food? You be the judge.
The carnival itself consisted largely of inordinately large numbers of people milling about in search of a carnival, and generally getting in each other's way. The floats didn't try too hard to impress, the procession members spent a lot of time adjusting their clothes, talking on the mobile or looking bored and fat. The stationary sound systems played bad music at deafening volume through dodgy, overdriven speaker systems.
Most of the reveler's clothes were dull as ditchwater, almost deliberately drab. Some of my friends, who had dressed up, had their pictures taken a lot.
The smoke from burning meat hung heavy in the air like a gray greasy carrion shroud. In places it was heavy enough to impede visibility. The remnants, congealed dirty bones of the victims lay everywhere, on top of piles of dirty plastic other discarded crap. I don't know if this is just me as a long-term vegetarian, but there are times like this that turn my stomach. I realize that there's no point in putting litter bins out here, as no one would have had the slightest idea how to use them, but it would have been a nice gesture.
My guilty confession is that my stomach often does react positively to well-cooked meat. I have no idea how all of the stallholders managed it, but they all managed to produce clouds of smoke, blacked flesh and an entirely unappetizing smell a lot like burned rubber or week-old road kill. I don't care how traditional it might be, it's a hazard to respiration and it stank.
At least the ubiquitous policemen were friendly. There was a depressing lack of drugs - no dealers, no none obviously on E, no smell of Ganja. This was a far cry from 1993, when the dealer's call of "'e's in the 'ouse" was frequently heard. It was all so ordinary.
I got separated from my friends, and we exchanged a few SMSs - they were on Portobello road. But by then the place was getting rather full. I soon realized that it would take a long long time to force my way the few blocks to where they were. I stopped to listen to the steel drums, and remembered why I like them so much: warm tomes, polyphony, rhythm and melody. I listened for about 10 minutes, during which time they played their entire repertoire twice.
Eventually I got back to Portobello road, but by now my phone was getting no signal. Too busy? I found some nice music that sounded a lot like uplifting dream trance techno (remember that?) outside the Salvation army. I could dance in a gutter that wasn't to dirty without getting elbowed too much. But the headache was getting worse so I got out via High Street Kensington, quite a walk.