Today is the first time in about 11 years that I haven’t donned a whistle and hauled my arse on the East London Line (Silverlink. If you know you know) to the streets of West London for Carnival. Now, I love to rinse at Rinse, then duty wine my way from Goodtimes, passed 4Play and down to NTS as much as the next twenty-something bound for that inevitable piss squat in Horniman Pleasance but, oh wait, I’m 30. Yeah. I’m not in it anymore.
I’m ashamed to admit that since my first time at Carnival, when I was about 14 and tagged along with my brother and his mates, it has become a lot less about the cultural unity and good vibes for me and more about getting absolutely off my face and searching out a sound system playing Garage for the whole day. I haven’t even seen the parade since 1999.
Like I said, shameful.
Last year I made the mistake of rockin up solo at about 4.30pm on the Sunday, stone sober and so hungry I could have happily feasted on the mounds of chicken scraps in the gutter. I probably would have, if I’d been half as wavey as I should have been to cope with the heaving mass of sweaty, aggie, twisted up party people I was now shoulder to shoulder with.
I bought myself a can of Red Stripe from a guy with only three visible teeth. £4. Fuming. Queued for a good 35 minutes at Soul Kitchen for Jerk Chicken and Rice. No fried dumpling left. Livid. Then perched on the edge of a curb to eat whilst desperately trying to contact my mate Amy, who, having moved to Kensal Rise that year had started the party off right at about 11am and was now in it, deep in it. We eventually did get hold of each other on the phone but by this time she was being penned in by the high-vise army and I was being penned out. Good times.
I left Amy assuming I would probably never find her again, ever, and wandered down towards NTS through the hoards in the hope that I would be able to locate my mate Jessi from her text instructions.
Miraculously, I found her. She was also deep in it. That one can balanced against the meal had put me no where near the level I needed to be on to catch up, but at least Jessi had rum punch to share. We made a B-line for Horniman, and, the inevitable piss squat. Then linked up with a couple other characters, birthday boy and florist Augustus Bloom and my good pal and actress Chiara Wilde. We sat on the grass, drank, smoked, and generally dicked about for an hour or so to the intermittent rhythm of balloon canisters being emptied. At about 7pm things were winding down to a messy holt so we headed back to Kensal Rise, stopping at St Johns cook out for more food. Gus got absolutely mugged for some tasteless Jollof. He blamed me.
Crammed on a carriage of horn blowers all heading back East I suddenly realised, I was now in it. The rest of the night is a hazy mash up of embarrassingly overtly-sexual grinding to Ginuwine Pony at Alibi (a total fucking anthem for me, reasons to be revealed in a later post) and a Tequila fuelled teary argument with a pointless ex that ended, as inevitably as the Horniman piss squat, wet and in public when it should’ve been behind closed doors. Or better yet. Not at all.
I woke up the next morning and put my head directly down the toilet until about 3pm.
I swore I had gone to my last Carnival.
At least this year I hadn’t lost my big toe nail as I did in 2009 and 2011.
Don’t get me wrong. I have had some wicked times there over the years, and even though my tolerance for, well, most things has got considerably lower since turning 30 I literally tore Glastonbury apart this year, so I do still like a party.
See. Here I am at Arcadia. Quite simply. Loving life.
(Photo by Amy. Yeah, we found each other again)
Anyway, I’m still in my pyjamas, having spent the entire day watching Tupac films and YouTube interviews around the conspiracy theories of his death. By the way, Pac, if you’re chillin in Cuba, holla atcha girl.
When I told someone a few days ago I was gonna give Carnival a miss this year they said “Really? Are you crazy?”
Well you know what
There’s still tomorrow tho…