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Popeye

Hastings Carnival Week gets going…

Hastings Carnival Week is a wonderful annual miscellany of local events, including open gardens and studios, Carnival Queens, a spectacular pram race (of which more in a few days’ time), historical walks round the Old Town and quaint goings-on with whelk-eating, tugs-of-war, seaboot races etc.  Needless to say, there is ample opportunity for the locals to dress up, which they enjoy more than anything else, writes Antony Mair.

Torfield Allotments

But we started the programme yesterday in fairly sedate style, with a visit to Torfield Allotments, tucked away behind a belt of trees along the Old London Road.  Neat rows of fruit and vegetables, and a cluster of people gathered round a barbecue.  It made me think of chef Nigel Slater’s television programmes, and the savouring of freshly grown produce.  We were welcomed by the chairman of the Allotments, who asked us if we knew Scott and Ashley.  We didn’t.  (I don’t know why heterosexual people always ask us if we know other gay people.  We sometimes feel like replying by asking whether they know Bob and Sarah, a representative straight couple. But they mean well, so we don’t.)

Carnival Queen and two attendants

Then back to the centre of the Old Town, where we came across the carnival procession – actually the first of several processions through the week.  The purpose of this appeared to be to parade the newly-crowned Carnival Queen with her two attendants.  More dressing-up here, including the character depicted on the left, who has a tendency to wander round dressed as Popeye, and obviously felt he needed to be part of the day’s antics.

The Carnival Queen duly drove by, with her ladies-in-waiting.  A charming smile and a wave clearly modelled on that of the Royals, though the carriage would probably not have made it to the Royal Mews. The gals were shielded from the general hoi polloi with some green mesh – possibly to repel any drunken boarders spilling out from the neighbouring hostelries.

drum majorettes in the High Street

They were followed by a couple of drumming groups and – last but very much not least – a group of drum majorettes.  I have to confess here to a weakness for drum majorettes – the very name brings a smile to my lips – I think it’s the “ette” bit, like “dinette” and “kitchenette” it has a nice retro feel.  The girls went by with the tall ones in front and the tinies at the back (they’re the best, because they’re a bit clueless and wave their batons around in a rather abstracted way).

And that was that.  We found our way back via Courthouse Street, where there was a raffle and a ribbon laid down the centre of the street on which you put a coin for charity, and then to All Saints Street, which is just  below our own street of Tackleway.  All Saints Street has its own contribution to make, in the form of a competition for the Best Dressed Window.  This year the theme is “Wonders of the Deep”, which results in a variety of curious assemblages in the windows.  It’s all part of life’s rich pattern here on the south coast.

Republished with kind permission from Antony Mair’s blog.

Posted 00:26 Tuesday, Aug 6, 2013 In: Hastings People

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