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Carnival and me
Carnival is an addictive pastime which has enraptured thousands of people. Find out why some love it so much.
Emma will be 'squibbing' this year
BBC Somerset's Emma Britton:
I am Bridgwater born and bred so Carnival has always been part of my life!
When I was younger (!) I was a member of the Bridgwater Kestrels a majorette troupe and every year we would line up in the cold (and often wet) to then march through the town as part of the Carnival procession. We would start with such excitement and enthusiasm but by the end of the Carnival route we weren't so keen for some reason - it’s a blimin long way on foot!
Over the past five years I have been involved in Carnival once again as my partner John is involved with one of the large clubs on the Guy Fawkes circuit - The Marketeers!
Carnival is a culture that is difficult to explain to someone who is not involved….. the best explanation I have heard was from Doug Robson the president of the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival here on BBC Somerset last year. He said: "Carnival is like a disease…… And I hope they don’t find a cure!"
I am always in awe of the fact that my home town of Bridgwater is the home of what is possibly Europe's largest illuminated carnival procession - what an accolade!
To sum up Carnival…… fantastic, fun, friends and fund-raising!
BBC Somerset's Adam Thomas:
Carnival's a funny thing really. For those of us born and bred in Somerset, it's just part of life, a bit like Easter, Christmas, summer holidays etc....we couldn't imagine life without it. But for those new to the county, you can visibly see a puzzled look cross their faces when you try to describe it to them.
They just don't quite get it, they can't understand why it isn't held in the summer, they can't comprehend that for some it's a year long obsession, they think it's mad.....they think WE'RE mad!! Maybe they're right, but do we care? Not a jot!
Adam Thomas at Bridgwater in 2005
As a boy, I used to take part annually in the Weston-super-Mare carnival, the very last one of the year. Our club was a small one and we used to do tableau floats (or carts as they're better known here). This basically means assuming the position of whatever character you are (I remember being a cat, and the legendary jockey Sir Gordon Richards among others!!) and staying as still as possible in that position until the end of the procession.
Now Weston being the last carnival of the year usually means it's the coldest. Oh how I used to look on in jealousy at the entries in the Feature class, which are the ones where those on the carts can move and dance and generally keep themselves warm.
Two hours later and you'd see the end in sight....... hooray you'd think. Then off you'd be lifted and one of the adults would shove a little brandy down your throat to try and warm you up. This probably explains why I'm not a big fan of brandy to this day. I am however a big fan of carnival, I think it's great and completely bonkers and I love it.
My abiding memory of being in it as a child however is slightly embarrassing. Before one procession in particularly cold weather, we were all given hot tea by the grownups to keep us warm.
However, it was so cold that night, that after two hours standing still, the weather had THAT affect on my bladder. As soon as the carnival was over and I was able to move for the first time....well, I'm sure I don't need to explain to you what happened!!!
Bridgwater carnival's Dave Stokes
I first caught the carnival bug when I was 11 and used to jump the garden fence of my parent's house to go and help Westonzoyland Carnival Club.
Their shed was and still is situated in a park behind the family home, and as I had always been mesmerised by Bridgwater Carnival, I just had to get involved somehow.
Dave was a Young at Heart club member
At that age I couldn't really do much constructive apart from tidying up the shed, cleaning light bulbs, cutting wood, etc, but it gave me a great insight into carnival life and its wonderful characters.
Three years later I joined Young at Heart Carnival Club, and that's when I started fully learning about carnival life.
I was taught how to use an angle grinder, I learned basic carpentry skills, I gained an appreciation on painting and the appropriate colours to use... the list is endless.
As well as the DIY and practical skills, carnival also developed my social skills. I used to be a fairly quiet individual who lacked confidence, but being in a group of people having fun, all trying to achieve something, really helped.
It also prepared me for college and taking up employment, and I have made many good friends through it. Even though Young at Heart Carnival Club has now unfortunately disbanded, we all stay in close contact and always help each other out in difficult times.
Carnival is an addictive passion, and once you have the bug you don't lose it!
last updated: 04/11/2008 at 23:36
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