THE GLASTONBURY

large (15)

Ah, it’s that time of year again when the forthcoming Glastonbury headliners are announced.

And here we have it, just like clockwork, people moaning about who they might be and – when they’re finally announced – moaning just that little bit more.

First of all, it was no secret that Chris Martin and his band of merry men were going to headline at some point during this year’s festival. In fact, it has sort of been the music industry’s worst kept secret over the last few months, so I’m not sure why people are acting like somebody just told them that Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar (fingers crossed for this year, old chap).

Secondly, I have seen Coldplay live. Twice. Once with a mutual fan and another time with a notorious Chris Martin hater. And guess what? They both – begrudgingly or not – loved every second of it. Come 10pm on 26th June (whether you will care to admit it or not), you won’t be able to say anything but how much you enjoyed listening to what they had to offer.

And finally, if you’ve been before, you’ll know that the Sunday of Glastonbury is an emotional time. It’s a time to reflect on the strange creatures you’ve met in hidden spots around the site, a chance to reminisce about the quite frankly regretful things you’ve got up to over the last few days and – most importantly – it’s a chance to sit back and unwind with whatever’s left of your overheated gin and cans of cider. If you’ve been before, you’ll also know that it really doesn’t matter who you’re listening to onstage by that point because you’re already feeling nostalgic- torn between wishing it were all over so you can actually wash and yearning for day one so you can do it all over again. And who better to listen to when you’re feeling fragile whilst wanting to make the most of your latest stint in Somerset?

Basically, whether you like it or not, from the comfort of your sweaty sofa or from within the depths of the stinking extravaganza that is the Sunday of Glastonbury, you’re going to enjoy Coldplay’s slot. Either because it’s summer, because they’re talented or because you’ve just dropped whatever remnants you had left in the back of your bum bag from the last few days. Only time – and four magical days in a field – will tell.

As for me?

I can’t wait.

Only 126 days to go…

THE CARNIVAL

1e0014e0a2ab1bd59f17dea7959e9d68

A melting pot of good people, excellent food and dancing. A festival for the soul as well as for the feet and friends. An institution for Londoners. A beacon for lovers, creatures of the capital and their plus ones. A party where no one is invited but everyone feels welcome. Two days of glitter, sequins and feathers. Hours of beats, rhythm, bass.

As a child growing up in West London, I understood Carnival better than I understood school. Sipping on juice whilst lazing in my pram as the sun went down, I would watch the women in ‘bikinis’ and party people falling over with a smile on my face. I didn’t understand it, but I knew that I liked it. My parents must have known then, as I clapped my hands wildly and danced on dad’s shoulders, that I would continue to head to Notting Hill for years to come. Ending up at school in West London meant that it was a given that me and my friends would stroll right into the thick of it. Spending time in Tavistock Gardens, getting high off the fumes of other people’s spliff and blissfully living life as a teen without laughing gas; Carnival was just about being there, seeing it and making sure that we all got out alive.

My twenties, like most things, is where I’ve learnt how to really ‘do’ carnival. A rucksack, pre-mixed booze and a whole load of glitter. A group of friends to party with and a clear plan as to where we’re headed. A strict rule never to try and meet up with friends in a crowd. In fact, just a rule never to try and meet up with anyone at any point between Portobello and Westbourne Grove between the hours of 12 and 6. It won’t happen and you’ll just waste valuable – and incredibly precious – Carnival time trying to do so. Remember, this only happens once a year. Don’t waste it.

People, of course, like to knock carnival. And rightly so it may seem: people get shot. Others get stabbed. Men and women are searched because of the colour of their skin as opposed to what’s in their pockets. Yes, people pee in peculiar places and you get the odd bloke who’s overdone it for the tenth year in a row. But what about the good stuff? The fun, the dancing and the chance to enjoy what London has become? I think that’s what’s important here, not the few who try to ruin it or stamp their mark on the west. 

I could have been deterred from ever going to carnival again when, in 2007, I got stuck in the middle of a riot. Someone opened fire. Police stampeded and revellers scrambled. I ducked off down a side road towards the back streets I knew so well until everything had calmed down. Then I got the hell out of there. That was the year I realised that the advice to leave before it gets dark is, in fact, incredibly valuable. It didn’t stop me returning though and it didn’t make my mum think twice about handing me a tenner for Red Stripe and waving me off the following year because, she knows as well as I do, that the good far outweighs the bad on this weekend.

Over the years, carnival has provided me with a stream of memories. Each one as colourful as the next. I won’t bore you with the details of them because, if you’ve been, you know the drill. And if you haven’t, then I don’t want to ruin it for you. What I will say is that if it ceased to exist, I would definitely be at least 70% less happy come August bank holiday.

So, tonight, much the same as every year, I’ll get butterflies as the sound of rehearsals and the thick stench of spices fill the streets of West London in preparation for the celebrations to come. This is the biggest weekend of the year in my city and I won’t have a bad word said about it. 

My brother says it’s better than Christmas. And he L O V E S Christmas. So if you haven’t been, join us. If you have, then I’ll hopefully see you on the dance floor. Or should I say, the corner of All Saints Road?

Stay safe and have a good one.

Happy Bank Holiday.

MONDAY MANTRA

If you haven’t noticed, I normally post a ‘Monday Mantra’ at the start of the week. Although I don’t actually mind Mondays – Tuesdays are my nemesis for some reason – I know that lots of people struggle with the big M after a weekend of partying or a nightmare commute.

So as per every Monday, I scheduled a quote for earlier this morning. It was something about making a living or making a life, but as soon as I posted it I knew that it wasn’t speaking to me and would therefore probably fail to speak to you either. So I deleted it. Because if you don’t like something, then change it.

I’ve decided that today, instead of delivering words (an art form with which I have an undying love and respect for) to your inbox, I wanted to give you something that you could touch and feel instead, because sometimes, we have days where we need more than words. Sometimes we need a beat, a rhythm or even a dance. Sometimes we just need music.

So here you go: a video that cheers me up on even the rainiest of July mornings.

I’m not sure if it’s the lyrics, the talent, the park that they’re in or just the chance to watch Dan from Bastille do his thing for 6 minutes and 45 seconds that pulls me out of a slump. But whatever it is, I hope it works for you too.

Have a great week.