A beginner’s guide to the Notting Hill Carnival…

As I begin to write this post, I’ll let you in on a secret: I know NOTHING about Notting Hill Carnival, apart from the fact it takes place on 27th and 28th August this year. I’m clueless as to what it entails, why it takes place or who the target audience is. I assume it takes place in Notting Hill, but then again I would have thought China Town was in China. So if you too are clueless, let’s together discover the secrets of the much-loved Notting Hill Carnival…

  1. I can confirm that the Notting Hill Carnival does in fact take place through the streets of Notting Hill. But it also extends to Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park, so I was wrong to make assumptions. Whoops.
  2. It is a celebration of Caribbean culture. Showcasing the best food, the BBC predicts that five tonnes of chicken, 30,000 corn-on-the-cobs and one tonne of rice and peas will be eaten at the carnival. Whether you’re a fan of reggae, hip-hop, salsa or dub, you’ll be sure to get ‘lost’ in live music, as Sister Sledge would say.
  3. Carnival’s initial purpose was to unite people. Following racial tensions, epitomised by the Notting Hill race riots of 1958 and murder or Antiguan carpenter Kelso Cochrane in 1959, activist Claudia Jones was the mastermind of the Caribbean Carnival. It took place indoors on a chilly January day in 1959 and was televised by the BBC. As popular as it was, it was not until 1966 that the true Notting Hill Carnival was born.
  4. Being the largest street party in Europe and second largest in the world, it comes with a logistical problem: toilets. A 2015 survey of locals found that 46% said lack of temporary toilets was a concern as visitors were instead using their doorsteps to relieve themselves. Nice.
  5. Following the Grenfell disaster in June, tribute will be paid to the victims. On Sunday and Monday at 3pm, a minute silence will be observed to pay respects to the countless, needless deaths.

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Time for Pumpkin Pie and Ice Scream!

Hallow all!

Zoe’s black and orange stripy socks failed to escape my notice. Scary movies are creeping up on the TV Guide. Multipack sweet bags are on special offer.

The 31st October is most certainly looming closer.

It is the one night of the year that kids are allowed to drag their reluctant parents out on the dark streets lit only by street lamps that flicker eerily. Draped in ebony capes, they squeal in excitement as they skip down driveways, hands wrapped around a broomstick and cauldron to hold the sweeties. They impatiently rap the front door and yell ‘TRICK OR TREEEAAT!’ impatiently. Hands swarm into the bowl of sweets. Satisfied, they return to the pavement and onto the next house.

Bit of a weird tradition, don’t you think?

My mum certainly thought so when we were younger. Despite the extravagant festivities on our street, she described the Halloween ritual as ‘begging’ and begrudged taking us out. Luckily her prejudice softened over the years and trick or treating soon became accepted in the Nugent household.

The excitement begun when the first trick or treaters came knocking at about 5:00pm. Given their lack of height and sheer excitement, this was probably their first ever trick or treating trip. At the end of the driveway, the doting Mummies would be waiting, admiring their little devils diving into the sweet bowl. Not all trick or treaters were as adorable, though. I’m sure we all know those ghastly 11 year old boys who would hammer the door boisterously. Then they would proceed by snatching a fistful of Haribos and Drumsticks, not even voicing the words ‘Trick or Treat’. Nor would they say ‘Thanks’.

Unlike them, I would like to think I was quite a polite trick or treater. My mum routinely gave us the ‘No pumpkin, no knocking lesson’ each year. I would watch in disdain as my friends carelessly knocked on every door, regardless of the pumpkin’s invitation. They may have accumulated more sweets than me, much to my disappointment, but at least I could sleep with the thought that I had not terrified any unwitting pensioners. And I would never forget the essential lines, ‘Trick or Treat’ and ‘Thank you’, even when the only offerings were those gross boiled sweets…

Halloween is the one night of the year that anyone of any age can dress up and not stick out like a bat during daytime. That is, unless, you get the wrong day. And that is exactly what I did a good 10 years ago… Delighted to be invited to boy’s 7th Halloween party, I eagerly dressed up as a witch. I went all out, with lime-green face paint, plastic witch fingers and an oversized witch hat. I could hardly contain my excitement as my dad drove down the road to the restaurant. I flew out of the car and shot towards the venue. However upon entering the restaurant, confused faces turned towards me. None of my friends were there. My dad optimistically told the waiter I was here for James’ 7th party. The waiter replied that we were a week late…

Despite my desperation to join in the Halloween euphoria, I could never understand why Halloween costumes had no insulation. Was I the only witch/cat freezing my paws off as I knocked on every front door with a pumpkin in the window? Scantily dressed in thin polyester, it was hardly appropriate considering it was the night before November… And my indecisiveness forced me to prolong the exposure to the icy winds; I practically had to play Ip-Dip-Do at every house to decide between the Freddo, Rocky and Crunchie. It would be audacious to take all three…

Missing out on Halloween, however, was a blow. The year we had an extension on our house, we moved out for six months to live with my grandparents. This, unfortunately, coincided with 31st October and their neighbourhood wasn’t particularly Halloween-friendly. Not one trick or treater came knocking… well… that is not quite true…

10 years earlier…

Exasperated, I sat sulking in my temporary bedroom. Why had no one noticed our enticing pumpkin glowing in the window? The sweet bowl was waiting idly by the front door, but it was full to the brim. When suddenly…

“DING DONG!” I jumped up from my hunched crossed-legged position, bolted down the stairs and skidded to the front door. I yanked it open and to my initial delight it was a trick-or-treater. But my face fell after a few seconds. Wrapped in colourful scarves with a pair of sunglasses and a rake for a broomstick was my Grandad. My earlier disappointment had evidently been noted by him and he had gallantly dressed up in the most ridiculous costume he could make out of my Granny’s wardrobe. Alas his best efforts backfired by aggravating me more and making me feel foolish for letting myself believe we actually had a real trick or treater. Rather than bearing sweet offerings, I hastily spun round and retreated back to my room, feeling hard-done-by. How ungrateful.

Present day again

I’m nearly 18 and my lust for Halloween has diminished with age. Trick or treating ended 4 years ago; now a new meaning of Halloween is blossoming. Think Mean Girls…

Just kidding. I’m not really into all that palaver… yet. Give it a year.

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Ruthie’s round-up of the most RIDICULOUS song lyrics!

Have you ever properly listened to the words sung by the so-called music ‘artists’? Or are you someone like me, who (up until the other day, that is) hums along mindlessly, pretending to know the lyrics?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the latter, fear not! After scouring my iTunes library (and the Internet as even I haven’t purchased some of the AWFUL songs!), I found a fair few mind-bogglingly ridiculous lyrics and have created a compilation of my personal favourites. So, in no particular order…rebecca black

1. REBECCA BLACK- FRIDAY

“Tomorrow is Saturday

And Sunday comes after … wards”

The days of the week; a concept I never quite understood. But thanks to Rebecca Black, it all makes sense now!

2. AVRIL LAVIGNE- SK8ER BOI

“He was a boy, she was a girl”

No joke, these singers astound me with their sheer intelligence…

3. HILARY DUFF- SO YESTERDAY

“If the light is off, then it isn’t on”

Thank you for your inspiring lyrics, Duff.

4. ED SHEERAN- THINKING OUT LOUD

“I will be loving you until we’re 70Ed-Sheeran

I really do pity Ed Sheeran’s lover. She will have to live with the knowledge that her devoted ginger ninja is going to dump her at the ripe age of 70.

5. ICONA POP- I LOVE IT

I crashed my car into the bridge. I don’t care”

I’m glad Icona Pop have made enough money to be able to crash their car and ‘not care’, but not only do they not care, they ‘love it’. Huh?

6. JASON MRAZ- I’M YOURS

“Do you want to come on, scooch on over closer, dear, And I will nibble your ear”

Arguably one of my favourite songs, ‘I’m Yours’ is just fabulous. But am I the only person who is reminded of Little Red Riding Hood visiting her supposedly innocent granny, who is really a wolf, when Jason Mraz sings these slimy lyrics?

7. KENNY CHESNEY- SHE THINKS MY TRACTOR’S SEXY

“She thinks my tractor’s sexy,

It really turns her on,

She’s always staring at me,

While I’m chugging along”

Whilst pretty much all the lyrics in this is song are completely ridiculous, these are my personal favourites. Although I admire Chesney’s true passion for being a farmer, I think he may be slightly delusional. Ken, are you sure your tractor ‘turns her on’…?

8. ROBBIE WILLIAMS- CANDY

“She was educated but could not count to 10”

Once again, I love this song! But I have failed to ever be able to comprehend these lyrics. Anyone care to explain?

9. BLACK EYED PEAS- BOOM BOOM POW

“Beats so big I’m stepping on leprechauns

Shittin’ on y’all with the…”

So they’re squashing those poor Irish leprechauns and then pooping on the rest of the world. Thanks.

10. CHEEKY GIRLS- THE CHEEKY SONG (TOUCH MY BUM)

“Touch my bum This is life”

Of all questions that have puzzled philosophers for centuries, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ is the one that sticks out. But not for much longer as it seems to have been solved by Gabriela and Monica Irimia. cheeky girls Those are my top ten, but what are yours? I would love to hear them, so comment on Facebook, Instagram or below!!