PAD/011 – Carnival, 1976

Each August Bank Holiday weekend,

Notting Hill’s West Indian community 

celebrates Caribbean culture. Calypso.

Crates of records. Stacks of speakers. 

Reggae, ska, groove, and samba 

vibrations of Carnival.

Mid parade, sweaty bodies wining

bodies growing, red stripe flowing. 

Pure joy seen as suspicious. 

The boys in blue are sent in, in force.

Black batons meet black arms, legs and heads.

Slicing through bodies like cutlass through cane. 

Cutdown revellers hauled into hospital 

or prison cells. Carnival; a unique

expression of love of self, freedom 

and resistance. Therefore it’s spirit

has to be demonised and destroyed.

Under the Pink Moon, The Procession Thrums with Memories of Blossom

The Procession, 2022, Hew Locke

After Hew Locke. After Taylor Johnson

My father would say so much with his eyes and hands. Sitting up in his burgundy armchair like a thorn. He would dress in waistcoat and trilby to walk up the road to the bookies on blossom warm afternoons. And when he was gone, I waited in his shadow for his sing-song step to return up the stairs. And when he didn’t return, I sat there lost like our place in history and the world.

Something was wrong when I left the country. Heart tight, sorrow crawling through the blood. Leaving meant joining an age-old tradition, down dusty roads at the crack of dawn. Humid bodies, sweat mingling fear, ebb and flow red blue and green paints. Thrumming bass behind the truck. Before us, lined streets, roped between black and white bodies. We whine to claim space.

I love the freedom assembled lines give. Celebrate, protest, mourn, and escape: The Procession. My father who packed away home in his grip on arrival; was Roberta Flack who set off a smile. I was left to shift between the gap and practice owning something around blackness. I had a feeling I would never be enough. There are times of melting, with the turn of a record, under a pink moon, when there is so much beauty to live, when I recount memories of love tucked inside.