Carnival warm-up from the Girl Next Door, live from Notting Hill!
The August bank holiday is here. As always, I have been looking forward to this end of summer with some trepidation. I grew up in a tourist area. This year the snail trail of caravans grinding to a halt every now and then as someone tries to snatch a glimpse of the sea, have been replaced with a stream of tourists with selfie sticks, snapping at the entrance of the Notting Hill Gate tube station. The local shops have battened down their hatches as friends and neighbours scuttle off to the countryside.
I only moved to here in January in the past few weeks and I have seen the area I am just starting to know, slowly transform. I had some warning that the neighbours get a little raucous this weekend and the traffic could be nosier than usual. I fully appreciate the irritation of distant music from a party when you are not invited, but at least this year I will be welcome.
For this is Notting Hill and I am about to find myself living in the middle of one of the largest street parties in the world. The idea is that carnival is for everyone, but everyone is a huge amount of people! How will the area cope with them all on the doorstep? So far, it has almost been the calm before the storm. Locals settle by the roadside, dreads escaping under their straw hats, as they sip coconuts, picking up energy to get on their feet as the rumbling bin lorries go by.
I have visited the carnival before, a day out picnicking on Ladbroke Grove or eating curry cooked by my friends mum, staring at the street below in fascination. This year, mainly I am wondering, just how different is it going to be? At what point do the fabulous hats on Portobello become a headdresses? What happens when the single steel pan player outside the shop where I by my breakfast is joined by his friends and goes walk about? I decided to give carnival another chance, and with no long journey to get here, I can catch the new beginnings. My watch is ticking!