Notting Hill Carnival 2012

carnival sign

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.

carnival bird costume

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.

men pissing at the carnival

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.

couple covered in chocolate

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.

girls on bridge at carnival

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.

drummers at the Notting Hill carnival