Residents of Notting Hill have already received access cards and the 2011 brochure for Carnival, it’s chock full of great advice and precautionary measures for the annual event. From Sunday the 28th of August until 9PM Monday night, the celebrating public is cordially invited to deposit their urine samples at the doorways and front gardens of Hill-Billies who don’t have a say in the matter, they don’t call it a piss-up for nothing.
Europe’s largest street festival with it’s associated mayhem has come into question several times in the recent past with ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone first proposing it’s re-location to Hyde Park and then being shot down for daring to tamper with supposed custom. London’s gentrified Trustafarian zone is a magnet of culture, the kind you find at the bottom of a Petri dish after it’s sat in an incubator far too long and the feral youth gangs on the prowl foster a menace seldom seen in the bowels of Chicago.
Carnival deaths have become a norm, from stabbings by steaming gangs pressing against the well-packed crowds to corpse-dumping from crimes committed elsewhere. Revenge attacks are the most prevalent kind of violence and police imported from other regions of England have little stomach to tackle the problem. Security posts meant to control foot traffic simply serve to cut off fed-up residents from escaping the madness and deafening white noise from countless sound systems blaring all at once.
The real problem though is that the upside is also the downside. Vendors who stock up on cheap beer and booze start discounting prices a couple of hours before police give them official notice to close up. Weed smoking neerdowells are fine up to that point and then liquid courage prompts the sort of behaviour even they’d probably regret on any given day but egged on by their cohorts, they buckle to peer pressure . Revelers stumble home, cross paths with juiced-up opportunists at exits and then, shit happens.
Call it luck of the draw, most people have a great time at Carnival and walk away without a scratch but the recent looting riots are begging to be topped and it remains to be seen how that will play out. Local shops are all shuttered up tight but it’s the surrounding area whose upscale premises were spared in previous years that need to worry. The police are always out in serious force and have most likely taken all that into consideration so you’ll probably be quite safe and anyway, the food is to die for!