Dom Joly: Such were the joys of my Notting Hill years

Share
Related Topics

I have been back in my old neighbourhood. Wandering down the All Saints Road in Notting Hill brought back so many memories – witnessing a man shooting three people directly underneath my window, watching Paula Yates's body being driven away from her flat, spotting a tipsy Mick Jagger leaning out of the window of the flat opposite, bumping into Paul McCartney in the Photo Gallery and him putting my then tiny little daughter, Parker, on his shoulders while I secretly cursed the fact that I didn't have a camera on me. It all makes the Cotswolds seem very parochial. Even leaving the area was a Notting Hill moment, as I sold the place to Salman Rushdie but chickened out of retiling my roof garden so that it read "Salman lives here" for the next time that the Google Earth cameras swept over.

Some things haven't changed, like the caged-in corner-shop man who passes things to you through a small, fortified hole. As All Saints was gentrified, there were rumours of Terence Conran buying him out to open a restaurant, but nothing came of it. He's still there, hunkered down like some survivalist from another time.

Further on down the street, I'm pleased to see the bicycle shop is still there. It's outlasted temporary hotspots like the Sugar Club, which made a name for itself, as all W11 restaurants used to, by suggesting Madonna had been turned away after turning up without a reservation. I had supper with Dido there about two days before she went mega-global. I had no idea it was all about to happen for her, my old Bridge opponent whom I'd often bore by showing little clips of me dressed up in weird animal suits experimenting with what would eventually become Trigger Happy TV on the Paramount Comedy Channel.

Sadly, the Caribbean baker is long gone, replaced by an uber-trendy little boutique. I remember going in there so many times and trying to persuade the owner to part with the photograph that hung on his wall. It was a black-and-white shot showing Marvin Gaye leaning out of what was later my bedroom. My building was full of history like that – the Notting Hill Carnival was supposed to have been conceived downstairs. OMG, the carnival!

All Saints was getting ready for it as I wandered around. There was the dreaded float that would always arrive in the street about two weeks before the big weekend. Every night, the whole steel band would get going and practise for a couple of hours, only needing to learn one tune, as they would be on the move during the procession. They'd play it over and over.

I can feel it right now as I write this. It would invade every nook and cranny of my flat, leaving me with nowhere to hide. Sometimes, at the very back of the building, underwater in the bath, I would still hear the maddening tune hammer at my head.

The first couple of carnival years were fun, but after the novelty wore off I'd start to dread it. I'd join the huge desolate convoy of estate cars winding along the Westway to stay with friends in the country. We were weekend urban refugees. I'd return to devastation, the detritus of celebration. I can see it now: the whole place would be damp, with stale beer, sweat and urine forming a thin coating over old corncobs and chicken bones.

As I left the street, I took one last look up at my old flat, no longer the vivid orange exterior that, in a drunken decision, I'd once painted it. We all move on, as we must, but sometimes it's good to look back and remember the good old days. Such, such were the joys.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album