Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Notting Hill Carnival Part Two

It’s been a long ambition of mine, especially since I met Lionel, to play London Carnival with Nostalgia, his marching band, and since Leeds is out of bonds again, I saw this as an opportunity to fulfil this ambition.

Well, Debs, I planned to attend a rehearsal, chill out in London, play Carnival Sunday and Monday. What I got was the calypso monarch evening at the Tabernacle,  the somewhat unexpected  gig with Lionel and Kwame in Peterborough, the last two bands at Panorama, including coincidentally Real Steel [winners!], whom I had tried to contact in Plymouth and with whom years ago I had played at Leeds West Indian Centre [as mentioned in previous blog]. 

Monday morning finds Hazel and ourselves at a DIY stores buying new wheels for trailer which pulls the kit and bass and amps and stuff. The Nostalgia minibus’s clutch has died so Lionel has borrowed Hazel’s van [I hope you’re following this, Debs], and in the end me and Sophie get a lift over to Maxella’s where we become ancient Greeks for a day, thanks to Sarah, Pia and some sheets. , I walked around London for 12 hours in a black bra, Morgan’s shorts and a strip of white sheet.  And a rather unbecoming bumbag - there to prop up the pan de neck-ness. Sophie did similar, only she had her mum’s white trousers.

Men – young and old queued up to be photographed with Sophie. The first photo that I took of her she said, oh I don't really like being photoed. By Monday afternoon she was practically dragging them out of the crowds . . . . Well, not exactly! We had worked out most of the chords for More the night before on Hazel’s piano.

Notting Hill Carnival Bank Holiday Monday was packed; it started as a wonderful experience and turned into an endurance test. I even found myself praying for rain. Sophie left us at Kensal Road at 5.30, and got back to Leeds before we got back to Maxella’s [under Westway, just off Ladbrooke Grove] at 10.45. 

The Grand Union Canal was so green with weed it looks like a field of grass. 
Here's Freddy, Asquaye, Evange, Bernita, the rays from the dying sun,  Yoko and her daughter [from Japan], me and Sophie [from Leeds], Lionel, Adrianna, Raol, Dianna [leader of the Coventry crew], Dominic, Sharon and David [the wonderful, wonderful sandwiches and ginger beer crew], Daniel, and others whose names I either never knew or really can't spell.

They had made a delicious vegetable curry specially for me. Then I drove Hazel’s van back through the departing coaches and police vans of Notting Hill Carnival, guiding myself by the wonderful Maps app. Got to Seven Sisters Road at 2am, whereupon a gust of wind caught Hazel’s front door and locked us out. Hazel went off with my shoes and waterproof on over her pyjamas, drove her van to her parents . .  .

By the time Lionel arrived with the hire truck to leave with Hazel, she had returned with her parents’ set of keys. What a hoot.

Notting Hill Carnival Part One

It's Friday and I am at the Calypso Monarch's Show at the Tabernacle, Powis Square. I remeet Alexander D Great, who I shared a platform with at the third International Steel Pan Conference at UEL. Here's a pic of all the recent and present monarchs, from UK, Canada and T and T.
My hotel is the Wedgewood at Leinster Square, not at all far from the Tabernacle. And it's lovely.
I was expecting to rehearse our Carnival tunes on Saturday but instead I find I have agreed to play a gig with Lionel and Kwame. In Peterborough! I draw a veil. Here's some pics.

We get back in time for the last two bands of Panorama. Short as this is, it is wonderful, and it is inspiring. And it is now raining. The bands just play on. Hats off to them.
 Here's the pans being driven to the judging point. And above, here's a trolley that I was strangely drawn to that was holding a set of six bass. Hmmmm. Delicious.

they have balloons on their floats. Real Steel from Plymouth won Panorama. Coincidence 1: I tried to contact this band when I was in Plymouth in order to introduce Chris to them.

Coincidence 2:  Years ago I was playing at Leeds West Indian Centre with Panic/Pan Explosion, then, after hearing our “support” act [Real Steel] play, I advised us against playing ourselves. They were amazing. And obviously still are.

On Sunday, it's Children's Carnival Day. We start at Maxella's. The visiting French samba band gets the day off to a fine start, with a few rocking rhythms under the Westway A40 flyover [but I only took film clips of them, so that's a technology for another day]. The pictures include Roger from Alaska and Haroun sitting in van, Raoul on kit, a greened over Grand Union canal, some dancers on the corner, flag-wavers, and Nostalgia marching along. And most important: sandwich makers and servers extraordinaire: Sharon and David.

Today we are wearing white bottoms, black Nostalgia Olympic t shirts [yes, Debs, I am playing with the band that played the Olympics!], and a red tie for 50 years of Trinidad and Tobago independence. [I am wearing the shorts that Morgan gave me to mend.]

We played up Ladbrooke Grove, turned into Kensall Road, turned into Elkstone Road, where, amazingly Sophie found us. Our three tunes were Sweet MangoMore, and Moves Like Jagger [which Sophie knows already from Sparrows]. 
  the time Kimani left off playing, releasing his pan for her, Sophie had figured out Mango. All we knew about More was that probably it started with a G chord but this song didn’t live up to its name and we played it less.To say Sophie joined us at 3, she managed a good 3 hours marching/playing.  Finishing at 7 was a long day.  Little did we know what lay ahead! Took a tube with Rudi, Central and Piccadilly to  Manor House where Hazel picked us up.

Playing Fields and the Head of Steam, and . . .

Obviously Debs, I work my leisure time around your farewell parties. But first Sue demanded my presence at a photo-shoot. So it's over first to the Leeds Girls High Playing Fields to tell the government in our small way - don't talk about Olympic Inheritance and then sell off even more school playing fields. For inner-city children with little playing space these fields, around which I once ran in my youth, would be a bit of a bonus. This is us with the photographer.

I dropped my bicycle at home, then Rick dropped me at the station; I missed the first train, consequently bumped into Marina and spent a very informative journey till she gets off at Mirfield. [Marina is a costume designer from Huddersfield who didn't play Huddersfield Carnival but who is about to play Leeds. I am a steelband leader who played lead float at Huddersfield Carnival but who has not been asked to play Leeds for the second year running.]

Here you are practising wrapping a pan stick in the Head of Steam. It was shortly after this I grabbed my camera and dashed off to catch the 10.16. It was shortly after that that I found I had also grabbed your mobile. I already knew that you were leaving Huddersfield at 6 a.m. in order to get an early flight back to the Emirates, so . . .

Consequently here we are at the station again, this time at 6a.m. with cups of tea, the station cat and you on the train just before the doors close.

Morgan gets older at the barbecue

Rick built the barbecue and we used it to celebrate Morgan being a bit older. We were Penny, me, Rick, Daisy, Georgia, Morgan himself, Joe, Ben, Lola, Jordan and Maya. Here are vegetarian sausages, burgers and decorated vegetables.

Lola, Maya and I made a cake. In order to keep folks in tune for the birthday song I brought guitar, and then I chose a key that didn't suit anyone; it was too windy to take the cake out. We sang to the two candles in the backroom full of Carnival steelpans.

Clippy hung out with stone cat and soft-toy dog.