Monday, August 30, 2010

Carnival Carnage

This morning, when I stomped off in a bad mood, John called after me, "I'm gonna drop you off at Notting Hill tube station later today," which was enough to stop me in my tracks and make amends for my bad behavior.

That's because yesterday, I somehow found myself standing ankle-deep in litter on Ladbroke Grove, with two cans of Red Stripe in one hand and a foil container full of jerk chicken accompanied by rice and beans in the other.  Chaos had ensued around me, consisting of drunk middle-aged upper class women wearing Toast and swaying to salsa beats pretending to be "cool" (believe me, it was more cringe than cool) and hipster twenty-somethings wearing brogues and black tights also pretending to be cool (which was apparently expressed by screaming the names of their missing party across the crowds in hopes of reuniting.  At one point, I joined in).  I was so confused.  Where was the parade?  Where were the half-naked ladies I was so looking forward to seeing?  The steel drums?  You know, everything the Notting Hill Carnival promises to be?  Instead, we seemed to be wandering aimlessly through one crowd to the next, negotiating elbows, bags, bottles and cigarettes. 

I thought about it for a long while and I think I had an answer.  A couple, actually, as to why I wasn't having a good time.  1) I think we missed the parade.  You see, about 10 minutes before we had arrived on foot, it looked like Hurricane Whatever was raging outside.  So we hid out in our flat for a while before venturing out.  I think the parade had started before Hurricane Whatever, so that by the time we got there, the only thing left of the so-called procession were some very slow moving trucks carrying sound systems.  Okay, cool, but like I said - I went to see the half-naked ladies.  2) To mask my disappointment of having missed the said ladies, what I should have done was gotten ever-so-slightly drunk, which probably would have made me a little more cheerful about the whole situation.  But instead, I sulked and allowed myself to be carried along from stage to stage.  John helpfully explained that if he had been "a bit better organized", we could have picked a spot around each stage to dance at.  Whatever.

"You okay?" asked John, looking at me with a bit of concern, while bobbing his head to the powerful bass emanating from the drum and bass stage where we were supposed to meet some friends.  The friends we had arrived with had wisely absconded earlier, due to their petrified dog's state, with promises to return - to no avail.  "Mmm ... yeah, fine!" I responded brightly, wincing as an empty vodka bottle was knocked into my Aldo boots.  The carnival had very quickly descended from my idea of fun to a version of my own personal hell.  He grinned.  "You hate it, don't you.  You absolutely hate it," he said.  "I don't hate it," I said, glaring at him.  "It's just, you know, like, um ... not really ... um ... my scene," I managed, as I was shoved sideways by a rather largish woman's breasts (the sheer weight of those things ... amazing) and ricocheted off some broken bottles.  "I liked the parade!" I volunteered.  Well, the bit that we saw, at least.  "I liked the jerk chicken!" I said brightly (which was true - the jerk chicken was a gastronomic delight).  "And um ..." I trailed off.

So yeah, I'd give the carnival another go - but I think I'd have to get there a bit earlier, be in a better mood, and at least a little bit drunk.

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