Is the Carnival a good way to spend a Bank Holiday?
By Harriet Walker
I am always stunned by the negative press that Carnival receives.
Every year, almost two million people enjoy themselves in the sun (and the rain too, of course), bringing more than £96m to London and all we ever hear about are the scuffles and kerfuffles, how many police were needed, what got nicked.
Why take this position on an event that brings people together, introduces cultures to each other (ever eaten curried goat before? No, didn't think so – it's delicious) and provides an international platform on which to celebrate the multi-coloured, multi-faceted helix that is London's genetic make-up?
That attitude speaks volumes about how the event is perceived more broadly, as does the microcosm of disdain within Notting Hill itself. The snootiness that greets Carnival is emblematic of so much more than noses wrinkled at the detritus in the streets; it's a fear culture and an unwillingness to participate. Not so the schools and community centres, who have worked for months on their floats and costumes.
Notting Hill Carnival is the biggest party in the world after Rio, so let's stop being so parochial about it and start being proud. Instead of focusing on how many policemen we need there, let's focus on the bobby who does a little reggae groove as he mans his cordon.
Let's cheer the streets that blast music from living-room windows and barbecue chicken in the garden. The noise and crowds might not be for the faint-hearted, but they're not for lily-livered detractors either.
By Tim Walker
Let me first say that I respect the Notting Hill Carnival as an important part of the capital's multicultural fabric and I'm jolly glad it wasn't called off just because some idiots stole a DVD player or six. However, there is no weekend of the year during which I'm more glad to live in east London than this one.
Plenty of my friends go every year. Some weeks beforehand, perhaps while eating falafel wraps, they'll begin discussing their arrangements for "Carnival". They won't call it "Notting Hill Carnival" or "the Carnival"; to them, it's just "Carnival". I say it'll be rubbish and they say I wouldn't know, as I haven't been in ages. (It's true; I haven't.)
Yet every year they return, saying, "Hm, it was a bit rubbish." Why? The packed crowds, the dodgy sound systems, the suspected food poisoning, the stranger's vomit on their flip-flops, the thief who snatched their wallet. And always needing the loo when there was none to be found.
A person of my acquaintance was once caught short at "Carnival" and found herself squatting on the steps outside a basement flat. When the owner emerged, interrupting her mid-wee, she realised she'd met him at a party. She hiked up her knickers and fled, and has been forced to avoid potential social encounters with the man ever since.
This is the kind of connection that defines the Carnival for me: not the coming-together of cultures in a multitudinous expression of musical joy, but two horrified pairs of eyes locked, briefly, over a puddle of urine.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...