Friday night at Bestival: Watching the XX on the main stage – things were pretty quiet, subdued even.
What I mean is I was bored. Then my neighbour, tall with slicked back hair and a cheeky grin, turned to me and said “I’ve played my card,” through chomps on his gum. “We all get one card, I played mine so they had to watch the XX with me.” He motioned to two friends, also chewing vigorously.
“This is crap,” said one. The other said nothing, distracted by a passing girl he hunched down and tenderly murmured something into her ear. The girl’s joyful expression immediately darkened, “what do you mean I look like your dad?” she squealed.
“I just wish I had a short girl to cuddle, you know?” the first man said, ignoring his mates faux pas and looking at me expectantly.
Just as my boyfriend and I were grabbed and force-hugged into a marginally sexual group sway-cuddle, too surprised to resist, a man leaped onto a nearby bin and lit a flair. In the ensuing excitement we broke away into the crowd – he was our hero.
Sunday is family day at Notting Hill carnival, but we didn’t let children get in the way of a ruddy good knees-up
I’ve never quite understood why organisers choose the Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend for family day. Due to ‘recovery Monday’ it’s usually the day that everyone wants to get a bit squinky and this year was no exception. The sun was out (briefly), the beer was well, everywhere and the bass-heavy music boom BOOM boomed through bones.
Despite the inevitable street-crime problems, the carnival is one of London’s most-loved annual events. People from every background, community and religion dance, sing and piss together, side-by-side. It’s a heart-warming experience.
That’s not rain
My friends and I stomped through the streets of west London, shaking our booties to the non-stop beat. The air was filled with laughter. Wafts of spicy smoke from the jerk chicken stalls, then piss, curry, then the sweet aroma of chocolate as sticky revelers escaped the Cadbury’s float – they’d been flinging bucket fulls of chocolate sauce at each other all day.
I’ve been going to the carnival since I was tiny. The ground is always littered with hollowed-out coconuts and chunks of chewed up sugar cane, your feet get so grubby. After hours of walking and dancing on tarmac, blisters and swollen ankles from repeatedly tripping over debris begin to throb. But it’s a good hurt. Sandals are a definite no-no though, so too is anything you’d be upset about losing/being mugged for.
Happy faces beamed at us at every turn, young and old. Some painted with butterflies or peacock-coloured stripes. We smiled from the moment we got there, lubricated, in part, by rum-punch and cans of Carling – on sale from almost every front porch. When the processions were over and our vision a little wobbly; the stages had turned their speakers off and the crowds began to thin, we headed home. Well, nearer home – the local pub.
More pictures to come.