This evening on my way home from working on an Olympic related event all day I was feeling high and happy. Sun shining, Team GB reaping in the gold medals left, right and centre and I had finished work early enough to catch the end of Brixton’s Splash festival happening on my door step. The street party was celebrating 50 years of Jamaican independence and even as I approached the top of the escalator at the tube it was easy to tell there was a major party atmosphere out on the streets.
As I walked around the spirit was as electric as the avenue the party was spilling onto. A steel drum band on one side and a group of young guys danced around a giant boombox-esque stereo in a scene that looked like it was straight out of a 90’s RnB summer themed music video.
After buying something to cook for dinner it soon dawned on me that I would not have enough time to carry out my plan of getting home to watch the 100m men’s final. It was merely minutes away. Upon leaving Sainsbury’s the atmosphere had changed rapidly. The streets were almost empty and it was suddenly eerily quiet.
I panicked. And with that I sprinted as fast as my legs would allow to the nearest place showing the race. I ended up in a barbershop in central Brixton. We all crammed around the tiny screen and I got settled just in time to hear the starter gun go off.
9.63 seconds later it was all over.
Jamaican homeboy Bolt had won and the silence was shattered by an eruption of noise from all over. Caught up in the moment I found myself jumping all over the shop hugging complete strangers and ran out into the road with the crowds. People from the bakery across the street and the jerk chicken shop over the road spilled out onto the street, the reggae music and steel drums began to beat again and the party returned.
I was offered coconut pieces and rum punch. The sense of pride in Brixton was overwhelming. The fact it is also Jamaican Independence day just added to the wonderful taste of the Carribean that overtook my home town in South London. This evening made me realise the Olympics being here in the UK is not just about us showcasing the best of Britain to the world. It’s about embracing how wonderfully colourful and diverse our culture is too.
Not only am I proud to be British this weekend.
I’m proud to be a resident of Brixton.