And then came Machel


get someting and wave


Sean Paul is on stage and I’m still in the line trying to get in, because when you go to a fete through general admission, you really need to prepare for at least half hour’s worth of standing in line.

I think I’ve been through faster and easier security checks at Heathrow just after a terrorist alert. And although there’ve been more murders than there are days in the year, I wonder who we’re trying to protect ourselves from.

If there are terrorists in your midst, should you be feting? Should you be wining like you never christen, trying to deny that we are an angry, frightened little nation?

The guard dogs on the periphery bark and flail, with spittle dancing on their jowls, ugly reminders of our crime statistics and the fact that we now need to protect ourselves from ourselves.

The line moves slowly and patrons grumble as the just comes try and muscle their way in.

In the line there are all sorts. The uptowners and tourists who I guess can’t be bothered to pay the exorbitant VIP entrance fee. The young girls leaving little to the imagination. The fashion dreads and the really interesting weaves. The gold lame tops and the skinny jeans and fur lined boots.

I’m getting claustrophobic in the press of bodies. And I’m hoping the man jammed up behind me doesn’t think I’m trying to cop a feel every time I reach for my back pocket to make sure my camera is still there.

The women’s line moves as slowly as the men’s. There are butt cracks galore up ahead as women bend over to detach themselves from their shoes.

It’s good that there is now equal opportunity searching and women are considered as much of a threat as the men. Finally we have some real indications of advancement for women in this country. It’s definitely up there with having so many women in parliament. When it’s finally my turn at the top of the line, the only thing the nice lady in the uniform who asked me to take off my washicongs didn’t ask me to do was naked star jumps.

It’s a First World airport moment for real. Like I’m begging to enter this promised land but first I have to strip down to my bare soul and smile and say the right things in order to be deemed worthy.

I hop away on the damp grass, washicongs in hand feeling a little criminalish, relieved to be finally in the fete but not sure if I can enjoy it anymore.

Police in riot gear stalk through the fete, unmoved by the criminal machinations of the waists of women, looking for the bad behavers. But how can you tell who is behaving bad from who isn’t? And who determines what is good bad behaviour? I mean, isn’t that what we’re here for? To get on bad, dutty, crazy, delirious?

They say Carnival is about freeing yourself of your inhibitions, about letting go of every day worries. But if you come here to forget, why are there so many reminders?

I guess because badjohns like to fete too and I don’t suppose they have an off switch for their badness.

I take my mind off the unbelievably boring performance from Sean Paul by meditating on my other fears.

I’m scared that some woman in those murderous looking spike heeled boots will damage my toes.

I’m nervous about the level of the music and what havoc I’m wreaking on my hearing.

I fear that there is nothing about Carnival that is liberating anymore.

And then Machel comes on and the fears that have kept me arm-folded and barely moving seem to disappear.

The people around me are transformed and I get the sense that they too are forgetting the police and their tight shoes and the fact that these days you could spend more in a fete than most people take home in a week.

What manner of man is this that can command a crowd and make them do exactly what he wants them to do without holding a gun to their heads?

Maybe they should hire him as a consultant for the Ministry of National Security.

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