Notting Hill Carnival experience, by the Girl Next Door
The carnival is hotting up as the bands from panorama take to the streets. The steel pans are followed by marching brass, carefully orchestrated to avoid a sound clash. Before the wide streets jam up, the precession can pass freely at a rapid pace.
The reflection zones remind me to stop and look around me. Lamposts have been decorated and window boardings graffiti painted in to murals. Many shops and pubs are open behind them, serving carnival cocktails through fortress like peepholes. On the road, coloured paint is being splurged liberally, leaving a slippery trail.
I catch a glimpse of an old style carnival garden barbeque, through a mesh of temporary silver barriers and the steadfast black iron railings. Chicken legs hiss and spit on the barrels of hot coals. In the side streets families are perfecting costumes and the children obligingly pose for pictures.
As the trickle of people grows into a tide, groups of police and carnival goers huddle together over a collection of maps and sat navs to figure out their route. A troop of police with backpacks jog in formation between the floats. This draws my attention to the darker side of carnival as a helicopter hovers overhead. At ground level, feet, roller skates, bikes and lorries find any way they can to complete the circuit.