Yesterday in Jamaica, thousands of revellers took to the streets to throw beer and paint on each other, to blow whistles, and to jive to the latest Machel and Destra tune. Dear Will and Kate may be forgiven for thinking this was in celebration of their oh-so-royal wedding, bland dress and all. But it wasn’t. It was just Jouvert night – the pre street-fete before Carnival. (There is something to say about why Carnival is such an absolute fraud in Jamaica, and also, why it absolutely isn’t, but this is not the time to get into that.)
Yesterday in Glasgow, thousands of revellers took to the streets all marching to Kelvingrove Park, to throw beer on each other, to blow whistles, to play music and dance. As I walked from my flat to the park, my own ipod was blasting the latest Calypso songs, and it seemed as if I was simultaneously a part of two events – in my two homes. The party in Kelvingrove Park was spontaneous. The call had gone out on facebook and within hours over 20,000 people said they were attending. Many more than that did. Dear Will and Kate will be forgiven for thinking this was in celebration of their oh-so-royal wedding, bland dress and all. It wasn’t. Then again, it kinda was. It was complicated. And I don’t confess to understanding it completely.
What I do know is that Scotland is as antiroyalist a part of the British kingdom as one can get. And I also know that within Scotland, Glasgow is a hotbed of this antiroyalist sentiment. While you will see Scottish flags all over the city, you almost never see the Union Jack – and I’m encouraged by this reticence, as if to hoist up a flag that was planted on the shores of so many countries in this world to declare ownership over them, would implicate the hoister in all kinds of wrongs. (Yes, there is something to say about flags, the shame and the glory of them, but this is not the time to get into that either.) Still, yesterday, I have never seen so many Union Jacks around Glasgow: on cars, on buildings, as streamers across the house next from me.
Some might dismissively say that the march to Kelvingrove Park to have that riotous, wild and wonderful party, was just that – an excuse to party. But there were over 20,000 people there. It couldn’t have meant the same thing for everyone. Not everyone was just taking the piss. And I heard the conversations around me – the glowing recounts of the wedding that morning, bland dress and all. Several revellers really were celebrating Britishness, with their Union Jack hats and their Union Jack shirts. And why not? I don’t say it’s wrong to do that. It was just strange to see it in Glasgow.
And oh yes – I know I’m in the minority here – being so underwhelmed by the dress. Maybe it’s my own resistance to being colonized (again) by a British aesthetic – this celebration of all things understated and simple – this constant elevation of the ho-hum to the supposedly elegant. I mean, seriously? You all mean to tell me that 2 billion people watching to see what the ass this girl was going to wear, and she have de flipping nerve to come pon TV with that!!? THAT!? No sah! That Joan-of-Arc dress wid de stupid lace dat look like dey rescue it from granny’s window? And we worse not allowed to say these things because Alexander McQueen done kill himself and the designer chile who make this boring frock supposed to still be in mourning. So we have to be delicate, lest she kill sheself too. But I look on that dress yesterday, and I know she still in mourning for true! I tell you what though…if Kate did ask any fella from de Caribbean who was designing Carinival costume over the last few months, to mek her a dress…. Papa! Den yu would see wedding!