Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Notting Hill carnival - second day

An expensively dressed American blonde gazes at the inhospitable residential streets and whines: 'Why did they choose here?'

Because, ma'am, in 1958 there were race riots, and...

A man strokes a parked car: 'That's a fat Maserati. Wicked.'

Inspector Howe stands in the crow's nest above Westbourne Grove. A steward calls up to him: 'There are seven floats on the way. And 60 in total.'
'Six zero?'
'Yes. More than.'
'Lovely.'


Constable Basill
As I'm drawing Constable Anderson [right], a passer-by uncharitably says: 'Don't forget the horns.'

I move on to Constable Basill and a posh voice behind me says: 'She's drawing the one with the distinctive profile.' It occurs to me some hours later that he should have said 'arresting profile'.

I draw Inspector Handsome-Profile, who allows himself a bit of a wiggle to Ass in the Air. Inspector Rutland [right].

Because I spray each picture with fixative I stink like a glue-sniffer. Some youths, each one carrying a full bottle of rum, are stopped by the police.

I sit on the pavement or the kerb, scrabbling for charcoal and chalks, with people constantly passing between me and my subjects.

Constable Shiels has a helmet hanging from his belt so I guess he's in the riot police. He's very jolly.

At about 6pm, two young male tourists ask me where the party is.
'What party?'
'The big party.'
'You mean the carnival?'
'Yes, the party. We want to party.'
We shout because of the amplified music from the float going by. I point to the float.

I tell them the carnival ends in an hour. They stand drinking and sulking, womanless.

The atmosphere thickens and the police concentrate on shepherding people away. A girl with a tear-streaked face staggers after her friend, screaming. Men urinate copiously on streets and in front gardens. Lots of women would wish for that privilege. A young man shouts at a girl sitting on the pavement: 'She wanted a wee but you just wanted to dance. You think it's all about you. You said let's go there. She said please. We've done our bit. This is a collective. It's you. Let's just leave. You're being delusional.'

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