Everyone’s going to be at the Carnival!’ I overheard this on my way to work this morning, and by the time you read this, the riot of colour and noise that is the Notting Hill Carnival will have been and gone. I’ve been to the carnival before and loved it. If it’s sunny, you can squint and pretend you’re in Brazil. The parade is loud and proud, with sequins flying off the dancers’ costumes and drumbeats that reverberate in your ears for days after. Jerk chicken is cooked in front gardens and sold per wing, sizzling tin drums full of spiced rice line the pavements, and beer cans are sold off for a quid each by enterprising Rastafarians.
Small groups gather and dance excitedly by a tinny stereo and large crowds move as one to a hypnotic rhythm booming out of a huge sound system. Old, young, black, white, policemen and civilians unite. There are, of course, always some arrests, but, on the whole, for such a large, music, drink (and whatever else) fuelled event, usually less than you might expect. Still, I’m going to push off out of it. You see, I love the carnival, but it really does happen in my back yard.