I apologise for the late arrival of this blog. The debate about the cancellation of Gloucester Carnival began a week ago, but I have been too busy to get to write about it. You see, I have had a bigger project on the go: I have been attempting to build a website. I could, of course, have stopped working on the website to allow this blog to take place, but then I may have missed my deadline of getting a URL in time to get it included in my book before it goes to publication. In fact, not only is this blog late, but an entirely different blog that I had intended to write on the subject of Easter had to be shelved all together. Never mind, there will be another Easter next year and I can write it then.
I mention all of this not just to labour my excuse but because it kind of parallels the carnival issue. If you haven’t heard, Gloucester’s Mayor, Chris Witts, is “‘weeping with shame’ after Gloucester’s street carnival procession was axed” and all of the usual knee-jerk moaners and arm chair critics leapt in to bleat on about how this was another nail in Gloucester’s coffin. Oh woe is us.
In its report the Citizen goes on to say that, “the blow came after news that this year’s cheese rolling event and the Tall Ships Festival had also been cancelled.” The inclusion of the cheese rolling is the typical journalistic practice of throwing together unrelated issues to make the point look worse than it is: this is an entirely different issue that I have given my humble opinion on previously. However, Gloucester’s champion moaners have jumped right on it whilst wailing and gnashing their teeth in dismay.
Now I’m not saying that this issue is totally without merit. The cancellation of the Tall Ships Festival and the Carnival are related and the cancellation is due to the work to link the docks to the town centre. And the loss of both festivals is a huge shame, I generally enjoy both, but please can we get some perspective!
- The people moaning about the cancellation of these events are probably the same people who have spent the past couple of years moaning about the fact that “something has to be done” to link the docks with the centre. Well now it is and it is inevitably going to cause disruption. Get over it.
- Suggestions that the planners should have foreseen and worked around these events are naïve and simplistic. Do people really think that work can be put on hold and made safe to enable these events to take place without resulting in huge costs and delays which, no doubt, these same people would then whinge about? Bear in mind what we mean by safe, in a world where anyone who so much as stubs their toe on a bit of loose paving is looking for someone to sue over it.
- Last year’s Tall Ships Festival was a huge success and the absence of one this year is a real shame and a real loss to Gloucester in terms of the number of people it brings into the city, I agree. However, better to miss a year and come back even better next year than hold a half-arsed version this year in the middle of a building site and risk ruining its reputation and having a long term impact on future years.
- The carnival is not cancelled; it will just be parading around the park rather than through the centre. Again, this is a shame and will no doubt impact on city centre shops as there will be fewer people milling about. However, as far as the carnival goes I’m not convinced this is a big problem. The people who moan tend, I suspect, to be older people with a rose tinted view of past carnivals when the Cross thronged with eager spectators. But in the modern age do kids really want to be dragged away from their computer games and iPods to watch a bunch of decorated lorries drive around the town? Personally I have always preferred to go to the Park to see the start of the carnival as there is more of a buzz and, well, a carnival atmosphere. This year as well as the fair there will be live music in the Park, and with performers walking around surely the event will be more fun, engaging and interactive.
Now we could, of course, all just ignore the serial whingers and moaners. If they don’t want to come to the party that’s fine, we’re better off without them. However, it’s not that simple. All this moaning and doom-mongering can become a self realising prophecy:
Chief Moaner: “Oh, I see the carnivals cancelled and it’s all going to be in the park. That’ll be crap. Typical Gloucester, never do anything right. I’m going to write a whiny letter to the Citizen”
Moaner’s Neighbour: “really? I thought it would be OK”
Chief Moaner: “no, it’ll be crap. Everyone says so, even the citizen agrees. I’m not going”
Moaner’s Neighbour: “oh right, I won’t bother going then”
Moaner’s Neighbour’s Colleague: “I see the carnival’s in the park this year, are you going?”
Moaner’s Neighbour: “no, it’s going to be crap apparently”
Moaner’s Neighbour’s Colleague: “oh right, I won’t bother then.”
Then, when the day comes, all of those people who actually get off their arses rather than moaning make loads of effort and put on the parade. And no-one comes.
Who loses? Not the moaners: they get their “I told you so” moment, which is what they live for. But Gloucester businesses don’t benefit. The people who put on the parade don’t benefit and get disillusioned. The council wonder whether it’s all worth while and Gloucester really does suffer.
I may be wrong, maybe it will be rubbish, but I prefer not to live my life assuming that to be the case.