Red Stripe, Jerk Chicken and Soca

My mate has been going on at me for ages to take her to the Notting Hill Carnival, I’ve always been busy, or mostly, out the night before and not up to jostling for a red stripe with a million other people, but this year I relented early and agreed to take her, partly because I felt bad, partly because I wanted to go, and partly because I went to the one in Rio last year and wanted to relive the experience in a normally quiet part of London

I’ve been going to europes biggest street party on and off for about 7 or 8 years.  A few years ago me and some friends were almost crushed at the top end of ladbroke grove, as a large group of people surged down following the trucks, while an equally large number of people were trying to move up, but both were hampered by the barriers on one side and the houses on the other.  There was a massive crush and for a frighening few seconds, I was being squashed while being completely unable to move.
Still this didn’t put me off and I returned the next year and found somewhere to watch the parade in the drizzle.  When it came it seemed incredibly lack-lustre, and anyone completely ignorant would have believed that the culture that was being celebrated consisted of staggering around behind a truck brandishing bottles of brandy and rum and stopping occasionally to try any number of outrageous lines on any girl that happened to walk past.  This is in no way typical, but this particular year it’s all I seemed to see, and there seemed to be massive gaps between each group, I got bored, had a wander, washed down some jerk chicken and mooched home.  That was my last time, and it had soured the taste for a day I normally enjoyed.

So with the backdrop of the riots shadowing this years events, I had mixed feelings about going, not so much because I was worried about there being trouble, I doubted that, but because I wondered if it was going to be good times…or not so good times.

After a cheeky aperitif on the roof garden at the Southbank we streamed off the central line at Queensway and headed into Notting Hill.  After a quick wander round and a bite to eat, we settled on Ladbroke Grove to watch the parade.  It was awesome, the barriers were gone which meant people were able to get up right and close to the parade groups, which was meant people could get more involved in the fun, but I get the impression it held things up slightly, as a lot of people were stopping the procession to have their photos taken with the people in costume and I guess is the down side of having no barriers.  At one point there was a truck heading down, and although you couldn’t hear the music there was a few hundred people moving down alongside and at various points you would feel the bass hit your stomach and hundreds of hands went up in the air.
After that we seemed to wander down the packed portobello road, past a soundsystem blasting out Mark Ronson’s version of Valerie with Amy Whitehouse, the song stopped the street as everyone sang and danced, to me the most fitting tribute to an amazing talent lost so tragically early.
The sound systems were nestled away in amongst hundreds of food stalls selling jerk chicken, curried goat (no idea what this would taste like), including the now famous Levi Root’s stall with his reggae reggae sauce.
Eventually we ended up back at the start of the actual route, and there will floats starting out, revellers giving it their all that would undoubtedly still be going as they rounded the bend and headed down Ladbroke Grove on the homeward stretch.

We headed out shortly after and I saw my mate back to Waterloo.  She said she loved it, and me, I loved it too, It was a fantastic event for London to hold and hold successfully after the riots, but that was bye the bye, it was what it should be, a party and a bloody great one at that 🙂

Ladbroke Grove


Wax da playlist

So I listened to the latest Wax Da Box podcast the other day from Wax on records, loved it, some fantastic tunes in there.  In particular, I loved what I thought was the 3rd tune in, so I went straight to their website to find out what it was and then buy it (yeah I buy my music, along with books, music is a passion of mine and I hardly begrudge the artists 79p for 5 minutes or so of pleasure.  Not sure where else I could get that kind of pleasure per pence ratio).
On the website I went through the playlist, the third tune in was Erykah Badu’s Honey (Greenwood Rhythm Coalition re-lick), I like this as well, but already have a better mix by the Moody Boyz.  The song I wanted was the one before, ok easy, let me see…

Love&Lite – 110328

What? What the hell is this? that’s not a tune, thats some sort of colour description and sample code number.  OK I work in IT (my roll consists of me mainly blagging my way through any kind of situation and then asking people whose technical  knowledge dwarfs mine, which is pretty much anyone who may be passing the office) and so the & is probably just the & character, does that mean 110328 is the band? is the song called Love, or Love &, or Love & Lite?

I listen to the tune again, note some of the lyrics, whack them into google, no joy, put every permutation of the above into google, I get an advert for a 7 day camera battery and a blog post about a chinese restaurant, Fail.

So I’ve left a comment on the site, hopefully they will put me out of my misery  soon…

Link to podcast and butt licking / pleading comment here

the memory of my favourite books

I’m not one for hyperbole, I like to tell it like it is, perhaps a little flourish here and there, but generally I’m about as subtle as a brick through your front window.  But I’m reading The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, (mostly because I was in Foyles and as it was shortlisted for the Orange prize for fiction and they had it on one of their plinths, I don’t know how anyone can not buy a book off a plinth) and it is quite frankly the best book I have ever read. ever.

Now in all honesty I immerse myself in a book when I read it, burrow into it and when forced to emerge, for food or work say, I still have an open door in my mind that allows me to slip straight back to wherever it is that the story is set.  However, having said that, I have the memory of an amnesic goldfish and once finished, I cannot remember a single stand out line, that has made me laugh out loud, or force down the lump in my throat.  I remember the characters, the story, the gut churning intensity of particular parts but that’s it.  So I’ve been told that I have awarded the best book ever to any number of books I have read, but as I can’t find anything in writing, I’m sticking with this one.

I’ve still got about a hundred pages left and it took me to about half way through the book to actually work out what it was that drew me in and embraced me, whilst simultaneously slinging the other books out of my favourites pigeon hole.  It is quite simply the prose, I would like to describe it, would like to comment on how whether it is describing someone cooking breakfast or it is wrenching you into chilling circumstances, you can but saviour every word, sentence and page and bask in the sheer enjoyment and pleasure that comes from reading it.  I would like to describe all that but I fear it would be like someone who is given a packet of crayola crayons and told to draw the sistine chapel, the effort would be there but the attempt would be somewhat short.

so just read it.  I have a number of favourite books and will probably put a list up here at some point, but certainly at least until my next book, this is numero uno.

Click on the pic below to go to Aminatta’s website

quotes from the riots (may have been made up..)

“There is no doubt that some parts of our society are broken, and that they are sick”
David Cameron commenting on the state of UK politicians

“I want to make this perfectly clear….I have come back from my holiday for this”
David Cameron

“we will do everything possible to restore order, I will be cancelling my game of boules to chair another meeting, this will be tomorrow, as I haven’t had a chance to look at my holiday snaps. Thank you.”
David Cameron

“I am granting the Metropolitan Police emergency powers to use water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas to take back control of our streets from these ponsing parasites biting the hand that feeds them. In addition I am deploying the British Army as a visible presence to provide the authority that is so very lacking.”…..
Carlsberg don’t do Prime Ministers but if they did… ?

“I’m jolly well cross, I was in the middle of a water colour on holiday and I’ve missed my tennis lesson. Now if everyone had hugged these hoodies when I told them two we wouldn’t be having these silly high jinks”
David Cameron

“It has been reported that rioters tried to loot Ed Miliband. However they were unable to find a single opinion in him”

Advice of the MPs: Please don’t got out and take pictures.
Request from rolling news: Please send in your footage

Sky News…we interrupt this coverage of the end of the world for these messages

Some fave tweets:
Love that while @LouiseMensch is advocating temp shutdowns of Twitter, @SkyNews are advertising the #skydebate hashtag.

Reports from Hampton Court Palace suggest a small quartet of men in heraldic costume have just begun luting.

Take car. Go to Mums. Kill Phil, grab Liz go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over.

Friend just suggested we dont need Cameron, we need Mr T with his tank yelling “quit this jibber jabber fools

75 Drayton Park, N5 1BU Emirates stadium trophy cabinet robbed-thieves leave empty handed.

The Youth of the Middle East rise up for basic freedoms.The Youth of London rise up for a HD ready 42” Plasma TV

chaos and disorder

So so much has been said about the riots in London and around England (It is important, at least to the Scottish it seems if Alex Ferguson is anything to go by, to make this distinction.  This wouldn’t happen in Scotland according to Sir Alex.  Perhaps because they have Rebus?) that I fear to say anything else would be recycling everything that has gone round already, and, not being a politician, I could never hope to carry this off.

Still it saddens me that once again the politicians have reduced the complex, sad social issues behind the riots to pointless soundbites, mostly sniping against one another, as if it was just some big jolly purely designed to get them going against each other again, with the sole annoyance coming from the fact that they had to interrupt their holidays, eventually.

like many people, I have sensed that this was a long time coming, an alienated youth that have had no discipline, no concept of right or wrong, no fear because the punishment rarely fits the crime, and an expectancy that everything should be handed to them on a plate.
And while I doubt that the Police can be entirely without blame in the slow cook build up of this outpouring of wanton destruction (I have read too many comments from people involved and not involved regarding harrassment to disregard them), I think they did a remarkable job during the chaos, and I was amazed at the ridiculous comments some people were making either in the press or on Twitter (That highly dangerous social networking site that was the real cause of the unrest).  While advocating that the police should go in heavy handed, they would have also been the first to complain about police brutality, or is brutality made ok because it’s your neighbourhood that is under siege?
I think the police would have gone in heavy handed, but for the simple fact that they were completely outnumbered most of the time, and could do little but try to contain the unrest, while rubber-neckers wandered round taking pictures with their camera phones, and again, these would have been the first to complain had they been attacked, despite openly placing themselves in danger.

I don’t know the best way to fix it, I was so saddened by what had happened.  I do know that “shutting down social networking sites for an hour or two during riots” is not the answer, unless perhaps we want to model our democracy and freedom of speech on China.  I’m not even sure how they think that is even possible, and once again shows how out of the loop our beloved MP’s are, particularly as it was made quite clear throughout the riots that the communication channel of choice was BBM.

Still, why let the facts stand in the way of a good soundbite