The Notting Hill Carnage
You know how you think in a horror movie you’d always live and never make dumb decisions that the characters make?
So did I.
That was until last week when I had a quintessential London experience; the Notting Hill Carnival.
About 2 million people visit the carnival over two days, or so I have been told.
I was forewarned to make sure I didn’t lose the friends I came with.
How I scoffed at such suggestions. Like I, the incredible navigator Nic McBride, would get lost.
Turns out it literally took five minutes.
It was insane, people were everywhere, just partying on the streets. As you approach the carnival you feel like you’re part of the white walkers’ army of the dead, slowly lurching toward chaos.
The streets are closed and full of people as far as the eye can see. I have literally never felt so enclosed by people on all sides.
A group of about ten of us had embarked on an adventure like the Fellowship of the Ring. Alas I would play the part of Gandalf, dying pretty early on in proceedings.
As we met the carnival’s parade we all, naturally, pulled out our phones to document the occasion for social media, #LondonLife.
As I moved in for a closer shot I briefly left the group behind.
Having secured pictures to let everyone on Snapchat and Instagram know what great a time I was having, I made my way out of the crowd.
However there was no sign of the group. I looked left, right, up, down. I took vantage from a wall but my elf-eyes could see nothing (sorry for mixing LOTR character references to Legolas).
Essentially if this was a horror movie, I just died.
If this was a movie, I was the guy who thought “Oh what’s behind this door?” and proceeds to be murdered instantly.
My death would be the death that bonds the rest of the group together like “Nic’s dead we better make sure we all stick together now”.
So I was left to explore by myself.
Making my way through the crowds, jerked chicken, smoke, and street casinos it was hard to believe this was just an urban neighbourhood for the rest of the year.
At one point I needed to use the bathroom and wasn’t drunk enough to piss on the walls, something A LOT of people were taking advantage of.
So I lined up at a portaloo. It took about 30 minutes to reach the front and as I was at the front a massive guy tried to cut in. Like a guy twice the size of me.
But after waiting 30 minutes I was not having it and stood my ground. Somehow I did not die.
But when I got inside a part of me did.
The toilet was full. As in to the brim.
People had pissed in bottles and sh*t on the floor because there was nowhere left to go. It was horrifying. It still haunts me at night.
So I held my breath and did made the best of a bad situation.
I moved on, bought another beer to erase the experience.
I was taking some more snaps for social media when a homeless man comes up to me and says “Hello sir, would you like to come on an adventure with me?”
I was briefly tempted before considering that this adventure would end with me bleeding out in an alley, so I politely declined.
I managed to meet another group of travellers and joined with them to carry on the adventure.
Suddenly everyone in front of us just turned and started running directly at us, like a wall of people all running at you.
I hugged against a building on the sidewalk, unaware of what had sparked the chaos, but simply just trying to avoid being trampled.
There was no explanation of what had caused the panic; almost quieting as quickly as it had escalated.
It was about this time I decided I’d made it through enough. Frodo can get the ring to Mordor on his own. He’ll be sweet.
Until next year…