Sunday, 28 August 2016

Notting Hill Celebrates: Hugh Grant's Official Birthday

Once again in West London the Notting Hill Carnival is in full swing. Bobbies on Bicycles two by two, quaint Chinese tourists wondering what the strange heavy smell is in the air and wondering if it's the famous "London Smog", and Rhys Ifans running around in his underwear. England at its multicultural best.
Hugh Grant's official residence

What is generally forgotten today is the reason for the Carnival. It was originally planned to have a big party on 9 September - Hugh Grant's birthday. Hugh, being the hereditary Duke of Notting Hill, is entitled to a three-day celebration each year. But it was agreed by Harold Wilson's Labour government, at the same time they introduced International Sit on the Train Floor Day on May 1st, that they would also create a new public holiday at the end of August, to celebrate Hugh's birthday in style.

And so it came to pass. Today is International Foppishly Shy Day, the second day of the festival. All the upper-class English people who now live in Notting Hill ensure they get out to the Cotswolds. They let out their town houses for the weekend to the sort of people who used to live in Notting Hill before gentrification. Steel bands play in the street, parades of Old Etonians carry out their traditional "stroll" down Ladbroke Grove, and people in Minis attempt to get to press conferences as fast as possible. Every door in Notting Hill receives an extra coat of blue paint, at Hugh's expense.

Meanwhile, Hugh Grant himself tours the area in an open-topped bus, waving to the adoring crowds and throwing fivers for the street urchins to chase. Before amusingly taking a high-speed wrong turning, crashing into the market stalls, and proposing to a random American.
The Coldstream Guards celebrate another Happy Hugh Year

Hugh Grant's Official Birthday. A piece of Olde England.

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