Notting Hill Carnival 2014 saw me round festivities off in a rather tame crack den (less The Wire, more Skins) in Clapham, then spend the next morning waiting to be picked up from a police station. Now, i could end this anecdote here, let you think I’m some kind of edgy bad bitch, but the truth is, I got a taxi home about 4am and spent the night in lovely, safe suburban Kingston. And my reason for frequenting Notting Hill station? My (then) boyfriend had managed to lose his wallet and some kind carnival goer handed it into the authorities. See – I don’t really have any street cred.
This year, newly single, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d go a bit wilder this time – maybe I’d end up loitering around police cells for a cooler reason? Maybe I’d be pictured (badly) twerking against an officer? Well you’d be wrong. No no, we took Carnival on with an added middle class vibe. Here’s what went down that made me think maybe it’s time I admitted defeat and started shopping at Waitrose:
1. The days of an ‘Eating’s Cheating’ approach to boozing are long gone. We decided that the only way to start carnival was with a leisurely stroll to Kingston and have a Lebanese brunch by the river.Kate Moss may say nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels but I don’t think she’s ever tried a halloumi & pesto stuffed croissant from Comptoir Libanais.
I know, I know – is there anything more middle class than such enthusiasm towards brunch? It’s basically just breakfast for lazy people but with a fancy name, isn’t it? I’m taking to 15 Middle Class Points (MCP), don’t worry.
2. The leisurely stroll back alerted both myself and Claire that we were suffering from the previous day’s strenuous personal trainer sessions. A good round of stretching and discing our core strength occured. 5 MCP
3. As we’d woke up late (due to overdoing it on the prosecco the night before) we did entertain the idea of getting an Uber to Notting Hill. We didn’t, we topped up our Oyster Cards and got over ourselves, thank God. 2 Suspended MCP
4. Last year, after queuing for the best part of half an hour, we made a tidy tenner by letting a fellow desperate carnival goer push in front of us in the queue for a porto-loo. There was no such thing happening this time – we really gave our bladders the VIP treatment. We parted ways with a fiver each in exchange for a wristband that allowed us access to some kind of community centre – home to indoor loos and hordes of toilet roll. Not only that, as we sat eating our chicken roti, we waxed lyrical about how it was five pounds well spent, and just how nice it was to know we probably won’t wake up with a water infection tomorrow having not played chicken with our bladders.
I think at this point I should just buy some Cath Kinston luggage & sign up for a Taste Card – 30 MCP
5. Cool after parties? There probably were some but we were at home; watching TV and indulging in some hummus, dips and a Graze Box instead.*
And you know what? I’ll take as many MCP you want to throw at me – I had an absolute ball. We didn’t even bother attending on the Monday as we were too busy stuffing our faces in China Town and drinking obscenely large cocktails in Soho.
* Whilst wearing our ‘Keep Calm & Dutty Wine’ tees we bought on the way back. Yep, we were those girls. Again, regret nothing.
By this point you may be thinking that I wrote this blog in order to humble brag about the fact I have a bit more disposable income these days; enough to splash out on canapés and toilet facilities. And yes, that is one reason, but here’s the main motive for my little review of Notting Hill Carnival:
I SAW LILY ALLEN.
I’m a big fan of the Smile singer – I’m talking ‘spent all my EMA money on her New Look fashion range back in the day’ fan. Now, 7 years later, I have her on SnapChat and sometimes have to remind myself that we aren’t IRL friends; that her story is for the benefit of thousands, not just me.
Now Lily is a girl keen for Carnival. I spent the days before heading down watching her getting excited for the Bank Holiday weekend via her SnapChat story, and then declaring that I couldn’t wait to bump into her and make her my new best friend. I knew I didn’t have a shot – what are the odds?
Well they’re actually pretty decent it turns out. If you say a celebrity’s name excessively over a 24 hour period, eventually they’ll walk past you. Yep, just minutes after discussing her for the 77th time that day, I heard a familiar sounding voice and there she was – a tracksuit clad, unnoticed Lily Allen strolling by us, looking all fire emoji.
“Claire, Lily just walked past us – take a fucking picture.”
Because of course, the normal thing to do is to follow one of your favourite celebs for about 25 metres; taking creep shots and heavily breathing. Don’t go say hi, or bother asking for a them for a photo – act like an utter weirdo instead.
Hey, in my defence, I could have had my heart broken had she reacted badly to me pestering her when she was trying to enjoy herself. And she did like my creep shot that I uploaded and tagged her in on Instagram (Yep, I got weirder) – maybe I’m just playing the long game when it comes to making Lily my bezzie.
Carnival, you were an absolute babe – see you next year.
And Lily, I’ll see you sooner, yeah?* We’ll do brunch – I know a great little place in Kingston….
*Please don’t get a restraining order
See also: In Defence of Living Up North