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.