Saturday 6 July 2013

Carnival Day: The Live Blog

It's Carnival Day here in TouristTown.  One of our busiest and most bizarre days of the year, and one that this year I've been dreading because Vaguely Manic Ellie + An Entire Town in Noisy Chaos is not a happy mixture.  Soooo, in an attempt to keep my sanity more or less intact, I've decided that it would be a stellar idea to live blog the day.  If it gets too boring I'll just delete it!  Enjoy... 

9:45am - At work.  Coffee made.  Feverishly listening to Gary Numan and Amanda Palmer in an attempt to calm my nerves a tiny bit before we open.

10:15am - The first glowering old man has stood in the doorway, glared around the shop and huffed away again.  I do so love it when people do that.

10:40am - Ahhh, it's not only me that gets the James Bond theme tunes stuck in my head every time I go near one of our JB cover Penguin mugs.  A lad's just scared his mum to death by twirling round the corner and singing "LIVE AND LET DIIIIIIE!" at full volume, with a kind of air-guitar riff to finish it off.  Nice.

11am - My coffee tastes very faintly like mint.  Weird.

11:05am - The first parade float has done an early tour of the town.  Mary Poppins flying above what looks like the top half of a garden shed (nope, no clue), complete with rock music hastily switched to the annoying 'Um diddle-i' section of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  It's good to have advance warning of which irritating songs are going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the weekend.  Plus, it's also a good indicator of which float... personnel?... are going to be struggling to walk in a straight line by show time.

11:30am - I can hear ethereal music coming from somewhere.  Reminds me of last year, when a little old couple wandered into the shop looking puzzled.  "Is something going on in town today, love?" asked the woman, "only... there's a space shuttle parked outside the pub down there.  So we just wondered."  I know southerners often THINK we're from another planet, but really?   

11:45am - Wiggling around the bathroom upstairs, singing Cars to myself.  Much more fun than being downstairs in the shop.  I love 'bathroom breaks' on busy weekends.

12:10pm - Three Oompa Loompas have just wandered past pushing their float, with 'Kitkat' painted up the side of it and The Candy Man Can blaring out.  I approve.  "Who can take a sunrise?  Sprinkle it with dew?  Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two?"  All together now!  "THE CANDY MAN CAAAAAN!"

12:30pm - The Oompa Loompas have teamed up with the Mary Poppins chimney sweeps to get pissed outside the pub over the road.  At the moment we're alternating between Step in Time, hip hop and dance music, Pure Imagination and pop cheese, all played at eye-watering volume.  It's keeping some of the grumpy biddies away (YOUTH MUSIC!  NOOOOOO!) and me and Mum are dancing and singing along in the privacy of the shop.  Brilliant.  I think I may have pulled something trying to do 'Kick your knees up, step in time!' WHILE keeping my ballet pumps from flying up onto the top of a bookcase.  The kid in blue's dancing like a boss, occasionally while wielding a chimney sweep's brush.  OH MY GOD MICHAEL BOLTON.  My day is made.

12:50pm - The chimney sweeps have moved off, presumably to go join the rest waiting near the park.  A big white truck barrelled past a few minutes ago with three 'princesses' sat up high on the back.  I'm fairly sure they were blokes, but they went past too quick!  The Oompa Loompas have marshalled the troops and are heading out with their float, entitled "Willy Wonka and the Giant Kitkat."  THIS IS WHERE I WORK EVERY DAY AND THEY WONDER WHY I'M MAD.

2:30pm - All quiet on the carnival front...  A couple of bizarrely decorated cars have gone past, but everyone will be gathering across town to get organised for the parade now.  More customers around though, especially folks on their way back to their cars to get out before the roads close.  People will be starting to line the pavements soon - scoping out a good spot then wasting a little time in the nearest shops until around the time the parade starts at 3 o'clock.  Could be busy! 

2:35pm - Oh goody, my favourite kind of customer.  A gentleman who can't find anything for himself and needs me to literally walk him to each section and point at it expansively.  NOT ONLY THAT, but we don't have the particular book he wants on cars, we don't have anything on or by D.H. Lawrence, nor do we have anything on fairgrounds or circus skills.  All of the above are grave personal faults of mine.  Obviously.  Dickwad.

3:05pm - The parade should be on the move!  One question: why do people come to town on Carnival day if they're going to stay stubbornly in the shops during the focal point of the whole Carnival week?  It pisses us all off something chronic when we all want to shut up shop for a bit and go out with everyone else!  Oh, and here's another one.  Please, do, come in...  It's not like there's sunshine and music and fun out there or anything... I'LL JUST SIT HERE IN THE SHOP SHALL I?  No point going out now, I'm too short, I won't be able to see.  And I can't see from in HERE because some charming individuals have arranged their children along every windowsill so all I can see is a row of small arses wiping against the windows we cleaned this morning.  DICKWADS.

3:20pm - BREAKING NEWS!  The town brass band have FINALLY switched up their repertoire!  For the first time since we opened, they're not playing Mucho Mambo Sway on our corner!  I think their rendition of Is This The Way to Amarillo is very jaunty, and I'd rather have the latter stuck in my head than the former, I think.  Good call.

3:25pm - Oh, and hey, the blue-coated Musketeers from the next town are sounding awesome too!  I do love me a good old-fashioned band.

3:35pm - Well, I can HEAR the Mary Poppins float, even if I can't see it!  Lots of whooping and cheering going on from the roadside.  There are grumpy-looking people wandering in and out of the shop (presumably people who didn't know about the carnival and are allergic to fun of any kind.  And smiling).  And a fully grown man is now STANDING on our windowsill taking photographs.  If he comes through the window I think I'd be justified in finally flipping my lid, right?

3:40pm - This is the first year I've not been on the edge of the pavement with pockets full of change and my camera.  I feel weird.  Like the whole town's having fun and I'm the kid stuck inside doing her homework or something.  This is the view from our doorway right now, but I can't even stand there now because a delightful couple have let their children go in here and I have to keep an eye on our stuff.  I want to kill them a little bit.  Okay a lot.

3:45pm - It's a Long Way to Tipperary, played on something that sounds like a xylophone.  Or maybe a really clever triangle.  Hmmmm.

3:50pm - Jailhouse Rock, that's more like it!  I'm going to sing along a little bit EVEN THOUGH THERE IS A WOMAN IN THE SHOP.  Fuck 'em.

4:00pm - My favourite Highland band have been and gone.  A giant wheel has rolled past, no idea how or why.  And these STUPID OLD WOMEN keep coming in and complaining that the town's too busy.  In fact this one woman has just said to me, "Oh, is there a parade?"  FOR GOD'S SAKE WHAT DO YOU THINK IS HAPPENING OUT THERE?!  Here's an idea folks - don't come to town on Carnival day if you don't want it to be hot, noisy and busy.  Hey, hey, did you see where my 'let's dance to all the things' happy mania switched to 'let's kill all the tourists' angry mania?  Isn't this fun?

4:05pm - An entire float filled with people riding inflatable ponies, to the tune of Crazy Horses, blasted out at decibel levels roughly akin to a fighter jet flying over.  Now there's something you don't see very often...

4:07pm - Aaaand a giant John Deere tractor attempting to manoeuvre an articulated lorry-style float around the tight corner.  Always a highlight of the parade, watching it squeak round about an inch from the toes of the children on the front row of spectators.


4:20pm - God, we're so British.  The parade is over, therefore a third of the crowd have instantly started a stampede for the car park.  Another third are charging into the nearest pubs to refresh their plastic beer glasses.  And the final third, it seems, have poured into our shop.  There's a kid moaning, "Can we gooooooo?" over and over.  Everyone who's got too hot outside has come in here to take it out on us.  This is where every last vestige of my happy mood drains away and becomes jittery, unpleasant, "Oh my god please go away now and take your children with you" panic.

4:40pm - Why yes, this DID used to be a charity shop, thank you SO much for mentioning it!  I had no idea!  We've only been here four years this weekend!

5:00pm - The gate is officially SHUT.  Now I just need this last couple to twig that we've closed, finish time-wasting and go home, and we can cash up and do the same.  It's oooooooooveeeeeer!

6:00pm - Home.  Safe.  Showered.  Show's over everyone... off you go... DON'T CAUSE A STAMPEDE TO THE BLOGGER CAR PARK PLEASE, YOU'LL ONLY GET STUCK IN TRAFFIC ON YOUR WAY OUT!  :)

I survived.  One more weekend day to go, and then it's my appointment, and THEN I can concentrate on the readathon and my day off and packing and everything else.  READATHON!