Carnival: The Grinch Edition

I think living in Britain has turned me into a whinging pom. Well, to be fair, I shouldn't blame the lovely United Kingdom for that; I've always had a tendency to be a bit of a whinger.

This weekend has been big - and by big I mean crowded, noisy, dirty and LOUD. The mild version looked like this:

{Photo taken by me}
Throw in random weather changes from sunshine to rain, oh, and about three tonnes of litter at the end of the day, and you have the Notting Hill Carnival. This was our second & final year of experiencing the parade from close quarters, since our apartment is directly on the parade route. And despite sounding like a grinch, I have to say it: I wasn't that impressed this year. In fact, I barely took any pictures at all - things were so similar to last year, the floats were almost identical and I was a lot more irritable with it all this time around.

To give you a run-down on what the carnival is like for a resident, here's how it goes. We're woken up on the Sunday of the long weekend by a steel band procession.. that starts at around 6am. {Last year it scared the life out of us, this year I was prepared with ear plugs.} Tourists and spectators start trickling in as the morning progresses, and the floats then start to make their way down the circuit - starting towards Notting Hill and ending near our street. The floats aren't really 'floats' like you would imagine. Instead, picture huge trucks rigged with massive speaker systems blaring out reggae and calypso music at around 135 decibals, with guys on microphones screaming out random things like 'LADIES, PUT YOUR HANDS UP' or 'NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL TWENTY-TEN REPRESENT!'

Once you've heard it the first three times, it gets old fast. Each truck is followed by some people in costume, some people in drag, and a whole stack of random tourists dancing along behind them, usually carrying some form of liquor with them. And the noise, oh my gosh, the noise. Our walls shake. Our windows vibrate. Our ears ring. Our cat hides under the bed. It is LOUD. And as we wave goodbye to that particular truck as it crawls along the street with its little bundle of dancing groupies behind it, we're greeted with the next one.

Rinse, cycle, repeat.

It goes on until the last float finishes up at around 9pm. It would be nice if that was it, and we all went on with our regular evenings, but no. Unfortunately, you're left with the hundreds and hundreds of inebriated tourists who throw their rubbish all over the ground, blow their whistles and their horns, and smash their bottles well into the wee hours. They don't show you the aftermath on the news images, because it's hideous. People are disgusting. You see, by the end of the evening when the parade winds down, you can't walk on the street without bypassing piles of garbage, discarded chicken bones and all sorts of other lovely human waste products.

And did I mention that it goes on for two days? Again with the rinse, cycle, repeat. Imagine this scene: tenfold.
It's nearing 10:30am and we're at the tail end of it now. There are the usual throngs of people being morons in the street below, and I'll probably go to bed with ear plugs in once more - because what else happens after the carnival ends? We get street cleaners. Brilliant, you say, they'll clean the mess! Stop whinging, Aly! Well, the street cleaners do their thing at 3am. THREE AY EM. Not only do the residents have to put up with the noise for two entire days, we also have to put up with it for two entire nights. So while all the party animals and parade organisers go home tired to sleep in their own comfortable beds, we're all wide awake in ours, dreading the next August. Well, we're not, since we'll be gone by then.. but you get my drift. What with the public transport being all but closed down in our local area to accomodate for the carnival, we've once again spent our bank holiday long weekend holed up indoors for most of the time - there's just no way to escape the craziness.

Oh my, this did turn out to be a complaining blog post, didn't it? Blame it on my pounding headache and blinding irritation with holding a freaking dance party in a narrow residential street. I get it, it's a celebration of the local communities around the area and has a lot of history to it - but I just don't understand why they make it so long, so loud and so obnoxious. I also don't get how people think it's okay to act like complete morons, just because it's carnival: would they smash beer bottles, throw crap on the ground & urinate on homes nearby if it was in their own street? I doubt it. They do it here though, and nobody lifts a finger to monitor or fine people for doing so.

Ah well. We'll see what the damage is like tomorrow morning. And looking on the bright side, at least that's it for us - we've seen our share of carnivals, we've appreciated our lovely view for what it is worth, and we're done now.

And as of tomorrow, my whinging will stop - as I have lots of fun things to look forward to. My baby brother and his beautiful girlfriend will be here in two! weeks! and I am thrilled to bits. Our travel itinerary is done, and we now have to go through the process of printing out dozens of confirmations before we leave. I have a feeling it's going to be a busy but fabulous few weeks. What exciting things are coming up for you lately?

12 Comments • Labels: , ,  


Jess said...

Oh, I would be SO. PISSED. There would be at LEAST one grumpy blog post about it. Probably more than one.

Becs said...

God that sounds horrible. I don't blame you for complaining! I have no tolerance for large crowds of people, especially when the majority of them are drunk. So obnoxious!

Jade said...

Oh Aly, don't despair. You are not being a grinch. If I lived near Notting Hill, I think I'd move over that weekend - either that or risk being the crazy lady that yells at people out of her window.

Hilary said...

I think I would have tried to leave town this weekend, but if I stayed, I would so be whining too. If I live to be 100, I will never understand some people. Why do they think that if they are in a big group it is OK to be loud, obnoxious, pigs?

Fuzzy Cert said...

I'm pretty sure those exact same guys were on the window sills of the place across the street last year, too.

I would not be happy. We had council guys replacing street signs outside our house today for twenty minutes and I was ready to complain. But then they gave us both of the old street signs for our street, so I forgave them.

Anonymous said...

It starts at 6 AM? That's insane. And with steel drums? They don't even ease you into it.

Lacey Bean said...

I can't believe it starts at 6am!!! Who does that?

L D said...

I lived on a pedestrian walkway when I lived in England (Fennish life FTW!), and it was similar every Thursday-Saturday: noise, drunkards, lots of public urination ... I hated it. I know that living in the middle of things can be fun, but there IS a limit.

You should have thrown stuff at people :-)

Karen said...

I'd probably enjoy it the first year and then go on a weekend trip in every single following year. This sounds very whinge-worthy. (Whinge may just be my favorite Aussie word.)

Chantel said...

Wow, that sounds fun for the first few hours...

YAY for ear plugs! Hope your headache has eased up now *hugs*

Exciting stuff for me, Contiki! (still not sure about your recommendation for bungy though, LOL) :D x

Emily Jane said...

I would probably have started CRYING when the cleaners came around!! I'm such a light sleeper, earplugs usually only work for small amounts of noise. I would've been a very grumpy bear indeed.

terra said...

I can imagine the novelty would wear off pretty quickly. Especially at 6 o'clock in the freakin' morning!

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