Monday, 29 August 2011

Notting Hill carnival - first day

Thudding, blue barbecue smoke, whistles, a helicopter. Amplification that travels up the sternum. I wander around with Karen, my house guest from Cornwall. Someone with his birthdate tattooed on the back of his neck tells her: 'You've got a lovely bum.' I sit on the pavement in Colville Road and draw Constable Bateman of the Barnet force.

Constable Baker
I brush broken glass off some house steps before I sit down. One man is urinating in the doorway of 1 Colville Square; another makes a phone call while peeing through railings into the basement of 2 Colville Square. An empty green glass bottle hits me on the back - fallen from above rather than thrown; a yellow vuvuzela drops at my side. I go to find Karen, who reports that she's made a lot of friends she doesn't want to make. She asks me to try street food but I can't get over seeing - some years ago - a man slicing onions for carnival burgers directly onto the pavement, nor can I forget the embarrassment and grief it was possible for feel for his situation.

Karen finds a Jamaican flag on the pavement and brings it home.

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