So today is a bank holiday, one of the dozen or so national holidays set up by the government over here, since they don’t take time off to honor Columbus, or Labor, or Martin Luther King. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners are currently spending their afternoon at the second day of the Notting Hill Festival, called the largest street festival in Europe and the biggest Carnival outside of Rio. Today is supposed to be the hard core day, with the biggest rowdiest crowds. Naturally, Lisa and I went yesterday: Children’s Day. Hey, I have to work tomorrow.
And children’s day or no, it was still pretty rambunctious. Originally begun as a celebration of London’s immigrants from the West Indies, the festival features a parade of floats with elaborately costumed young people, dancing to pounding music, blared from flatbeds lined with speakers. Off the parade path, food stands line the streets, each with grills set up to produce tons of jerk chicken and corn, along with a nice potpourri of other delicious, heavily spiced foods from many cultures and of dubious sanitary condition. Homes and businesses in the neighborhoods turn entrepreneurial, selling beers and toilet trips to the many revelers. And across all of Notting Hill, DJs set up sound systems, basically walls of woofers, that face the street and attract crowds that dance as if the mid-day curbside dance floor were an Ibiza club. Wild man. You’d never catch me doing that stuff in broad daylight.
Around the time we were asked by a sixth person whether we were interested in obtaining some weed, we got our first fuck you for being American. Lisa’s first anyway; I collect them. Having turned down a gentleman’s offer of some cannabis, we were asked whether or not we might be Irish. American, I said, triggering the aforementioned rebuke. Shortly after that, a nice young lady offered everyone around us homebaked pot brownies, but not us, because, I guess, we looked too square and/or Yankish. I began to feel like an old white man, so we finished our beers and headed home.
Next year, maybe, we’ll stick around until evening and buy tickets to one of the legendary afterparties. For now, you can see photo documentation of our little day out here.