Friday, 23 September 2011

Walk on by

To the people who found my blog after googling 'notting hill carnival 2011 peeing' - welcome.

Out on Portobello I find Kilimanjaro and Egbert the St Lucian Rasta. I tell them I am waiting for Jacqueline, whose husband is a trainee rabbi. 'He trainin' to rabbi,' says Kilimanjaro. Egbert and I admire this greatly but are also jealous that we didn't think of it ourselves.

Rab I. Rob. In dialect. Oh come on.

Egbert tells me his eyes are blue-grey. I should have noticed by now. He points out a man called Beddoes. Then he tells me about eddoes, starchy vegetables that he says are very scratchy on the way down. He reminisces about his mother: 'She never hit me with her left. She only hit me with the right once and she knocked me out. Then she threw cold water over me.' 

By now Jacqueline has arrived.  We're next to a record stall and we sing along with Dionne Warwick - Walk On By and This Girl's in Love with You. Egbert sits for us in a nonchalant, practised way. His rib cage is tiny, elegant. 

'Egbert draws himself,' says Jacqueline. Some life models in the studio make me tense, especially if they point their feet or arch their arms winsomely above their head, like those ballet dancers who won't make the grade, counting the bars with a dead cod face. Egbert has true grace.

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