My Very Own Carnival

image by Maria Kristin Steinsson on flickr

image by Maria Kristin Steinsson on flickr

On Saturday I had gone to Covent Garden to get a few necessities and had to stop for a street performance. I never do this, having come to hate the bovine crowds they attract and the general baseness of the spectacle. But there was a tall, handsome man in a pinstripe suit on a giant unicycle, and he was about to juggle. With a little girl. Not juggle the girl, but the little girl from the audience was going to throw the pins to him. He’d asked her to catch him, and when she put her little arms out you could see his heart melt. What followed was a kind of sentimental physical comedy like I imagine true clowns could do if, you know, they weren’t terrifying. I haven’t laughed so hard or been so fleetingly happy for a very long time. I threw a lot of money in their hat.

On Sunday I went to Camden. I met my friends Amanda and Liza and we lost ourselves in Camden’s labyrinth of desire– there is no other place I know in the world that is so full of the phantasmagoria of hippie-gothness. And there is no other place that is also so very crowded, perpetually and inscrutably, with muggles.

Which brings me to the Dev, or the Devonshire Arms, the center of the London Goth universe until a recent pubco takeover. We were meeting Poggs for another friend’s birthday thingy there. Poggs had to give me directions to the Dev– I know, I lose serious goth points for that, but I hadn’t been in years. In fact, I had not been to the Dev since its takeover and reinvention as the Hobgoblin. It was a disappointment. The cider was off to begin with, and when I asked Poggs what is that smell? He clarified, “That’s wee.”

We sat at the kiddie table next to the main party’s table, and behind us were a group of crusties which momentarily gladdened me in a superficial way. I thought, foolishly, that this proof that someone was keeping it real in Camden. Not long after this fancy occurred to me, a seven-foot tall mohican entered with a dwarf in a box.

Yes, you heard me.

With an obvious sense of theatre this pair went about tussling, the dwarf not wanting to get into the box again and the mohican trying to pack him away. At some point the dwarf visited Poggs in an intimate and rather canine way and then later became fixated on a member of the party who he decided looked like Bono (the gentleman did share certain eyewear-choices, it’s true). Dramatic taunting and impromtu chants about the third world ensued. I was impressed with the restraint of Mr. Not-Bono, who was very Zen about being bullied by a crowd of crusties and a very angry dwarf, and this seemed to piss off the dwarf and his drunken friends even more, until the dwarf decided he was going to throw his beer on Not-Bono to make his point. I saw this about to happen, and I knew it was going to land on us, the cute goth girls in the party, and completely miss Not-Bono…but it was one of those stop-motion moments where you think you can stop it, get out of the way, avoid disaster somehow…but no.

All over Amanda ‘s skirt and my Sanrio purse…I think it was Staropramen, too. What kind of crusty-loving dwarf drinks Staropramen? Poggs had summed the night up nicely…life’s rich tapestry. Indeed!