A few days before the carnival, I was warned that I should possibly get out of the neighbourhood with my young daughter. "It's going to get dirty and there is a lot of violence...shops are locked down," said a stranger waiting behind me at Gails. "You're better off going somewhere safe." I was curious to face the looming carnival and coming out alive.
Houses boarded up, a mixture of soggy bits of paper, puke and cigarette butts carpeting the streets, people in all kinds of bad states passed out in shop fronts if they were lucky... That's the sight I was met with when I arrived at the Notting Hill Carnival in the early afternoon of Bank Holiday Monday.
The carnival has changed. For my parents, it was a place where they could assert their duality - as Jamaicans living in England. For me and my sibling, it was an opportunity to wave a Jamaican flag alongside others, whilst pretending we were in the Caribbean. Now, the carnival feels like a great big raucous party.