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.
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 SAG Awards: Fake applause track interrupts Reese Witherspoon
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...
£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...