Don’t Stop the Carnival

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


About Darrel Kirby

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22 Responses to Don’t Stop the Carnival

  1. trollhunterx says:

    What’s funny here is an armchair critic whinging about armchair critics whinging…

    I could have finished there, but I decided to give up another minute of my life to read the rest of the entry, which leads me to suggest that unless you can categorically state that the cancellation of the procession has *nothing* to do with a council saving money at the expense of the public, rather than its own staff, councillors and council workers alike, you may be seen as an apologist for people who have decided that, whatever financial crisis the country is facing, they’ll be alright, Jack. To be charitable, the people taking the decisions may be making excuses *just* to find the funds to avoid laying people off, but they are still making excuses. I prefer reasons to excuses.

    But relax, it’s not as if we ‘moaners’ are any more influential than your blog.

  2. Darrel Kirby says:

    Fair points perhaps, but I would argue that I am an armchair critic whinging in a positive manner if such a thing is possible.
    I am totally a-political so have no particular axe to grind one way or the other about the councillor’s agendas – perhaps I should. Maybe I’m too gullible in believing that the approach looks reasonably and it is, in fact, all a money-saving conspiracy.
    And I don’t actually mind about people complaining – it’s a free country and it is our right, nay our responsibility, to complain when we see things we believe to be unjust or just plain stupid.
    My problem is, reading TiG especially, there are a breed of Gloucesterians who seem to delight in complaining as a default position and fail to see any good in the city at all, they just like to moan. About everything.
    And the moaners may, or may not, be more influential than my blog, but I would suggest that their constantly negative sniping is far more damaging to the city.

    • Russ says:

      Gentlemen, you both have a point, however, rare as it may be for me to defend Darrel, I would suggest that outside of anyone with real influence, he is as far from an armchair critic as you can get. Darrel is an avid supporter of Gloucester events, festivals and local business attending events and spending money there on a regular basis.
      In contrast, I read TiG from time to time and one Joe K seems to spend so much time whinging on there that I doubt he has time to support events. And, may I suggest Trollhunter, that your quarry may be sat at your keyboard.
      Oh, and for the record, my family and I will, most probably, also support the carnival in whatever form it takes.

  3. Joe K says:

    ‘No sweat. You’re not the only one I’ve annoyed I also have a direct response to the blog. I’m not used to people reading them much less causing anything that looks like controversy!’ – Darrell, Brockworth

    It’s cool. Eddie might get ‘annoyed’, and you might too, with all your talk of whingers and moaners, but some of us treat these mouthings off for what they are, and nothing more. Come back with something more substantive, and maybe you’ll get a response you dare to exhibit on your blog.

  4. Squid says:

    A very interesting aspect and one I totally agree with. People want things to move forward and improve but complain when they do. It may be a simplistic statement but if these armchair
    moaners think they can do better – stand up and get involved where it matters and TiG is not the place to make a difference.

    I have to agree with Russ’s comment that Darrell is far from an armchair critic and I think his blog shows that.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. SteveRuk says:

    For my own 2 penneth…..I wonder if the importance of the carnival is being over-exaggerated on the back of the decision to change (not cancel) this years’. The procession has changed from the floats and bands of yester-year to shop-mobility carts and being told you are going to hell from a man with a guitar. I always attend the carnival and always see it for what it is, kids dressing up and waving to people as they walk through the town. What will happen now is kids will dress up and wave at people in the park. Although knowing people that take part in the carnival, I’m told there will be a small procession through some of the local streets to the park. That is not 100% confirmed with anything else I’ve seen however.

    In regards to the decision solely on cost savings, I’m unsure of how the carnival is funded so it’s difficult for me to say how much these things genuinely cost to run. My own view is that the main cost would be on policing and the festival wardens which would still be needed but probably on a reduced basis as it will be in one location. The council does need to answer some questions outright (for a change) on why one troublesome location towards the end of the route would cause the whole thing to be changed.

    Finally, I do think it’s difficult to separate the decisions to cancel/change some of Gloucester’s better known events. All have (possibly) valid explanations but as a whole, the message that Gloucester is shut for business this year is difficult to argue against.

  6. Simon Said says:

    Oh, I see what you did there, Russ. You took note of my ‘handle’, and you implied that *I* was a troll 😉

    You missed the point I was making, which is that anyone who sits in front of a computer (on any kind of furniture) and then denigrates ‘armchair critics’ is on shaky, if well cushioned, ground.

    I could bang on about the positive contributions I have tried to make to my area, but eventually, inevitably, that would take us to the negative responses of those who reject those efforts. I’ll just provided one link, and then you can show me yours…

    • Russ says:

      Use of multiple names, a sure sign of a troll. I don’t have a website parading my own ego on which I am the only one in discussion, I do have a blog but it has no relevance to matters discussed. Indeed, troll, I have not suggested that I do make a positive contribution to society, although my own voluntary work is not suitable for discussion in open forum.

  7. Joe K says:

    Oops, I forgot to restore my details after a fruitless attempt to post a comment on our MP’s blog. For the record, I’m apolitical as well, I just think Labour picked the wrong candidate, and the results of the last two elections don’t change that.

  8. Darrel Kirby says:

    My, my I do seem to have caused a storm here – most unexpected.
    Thanks to my ‘supporters’ and to everyone else I just say that debate is good – but constructive debate is best.
    Now, what else can I write about that will actually get people reading my blogs for a change!

  9. Joe K says:

    It’s, it’s not a question of causing a ‘storm’ – you made an ill-judged remark on the subject of criticism, and it bit you on the butt. No biggie. In 15 odd years or so of traversing the internet, I’ve seem no shortage of people who want to make a drama out of a minor interjection, assuming that the person on the other end of the convo is mashing his/her arms into bloody stumps. You’d think they *don’t* want proof that somebody is reading their words. I’d welcome someone pointing out a typo on my blog, but to hear Shaun/Shauno/ShaunMoore/Barton Media on the Gloucestershire Boards (no problem with multiple accounts *there*), you’d think that was the ultimate insult rather than a way of checking that someone is paying attention.

    So getting people reading your blogs is easy. Just write about an issue that matters, but most people are afraid to address. Or opt for a quiet, inoffensive life well inside the comfort zone…

  10. Darrel Kirby says:

    I wouldn’t agree that my remark was particualrly ill-judged and I stand by it. I also don’t consider tht it bit me on the butt – it has resulted in most visits to my site on one day ever, so I consider that something of a win.

    I also don’t want you to think that I fear you are mashing my arms into bloody stumps – you seem to enjoy the notoriety of being banned from on-line chats (and I recognise you from a previous incarnation on the Glos message boards so I know what to expect) but I am quite happy for you to disagree and air your views here as long as they don’t get personal.

  11. Joe K says:

    It’s always nice to get more visits to a site, as long as they’re not by obnoxious types who let their prejudices get in the way of the truth, like Eddie and Phil.

    You took me up wrong about the keyboard mashing. Read it again. I was referring to this,, anyway.

    And I don’t enjoy notoriety. Did I think I would be banned for mentioning that the Gloucestershire Boards blogs were infested with hard porn and drug links for months on end? Would you? Eddie’s a little silent on that score.

    Again, I don’t enjoy notoriety. I just seem to associate with a lot of people online who *think* I’m being controversial. Still, at least I’m not a temperamental idiot like Glawster -Born 🙂

  12. Joe K says:

    ‘Use of multiple names, a sure sign of a troll. I don’t have a website parading my own ego on which I am the only one in discussion, I do have a blog but it has no relevance to matters discussed. Indeed, troll, I have not suggested that I do make a positive contribution to society, although my own voluntary work is not suitable for discussion in open forum.’

    Sorry, Russ, I didn’t see your post above. ‘Trollhunterx’ is the default alternate name I had to pick when I couldn’t have ‘Joe K’ on wordpress. When I visit another wordpress blog and post without checking, ‘trollhunterx’ is what comes up. ‘Simon Said’ is simply a consequence of a two-faced MP’s refusal to permit the discussion he claims he wants to see, and I make no secret of the need to create a name that gets past the block:

    Use of multiple names is only the ‘sure sign’ of a troll, as you call it (I don’t like to use that word as a noun, as it dehumanises people, like the Nazis tried to do with the Jews) if the person in question tries to conceal his identity, which I don’t. Haven’t actually met any ‘trolls’ on Gloucestershire message boards, just people with wrongheaded views about a lot of things.

    And that site isn’t for my ego, it was an attempt to give people in my ward a voice when local orgs like the BTCT and the currently abysmal rag of a paper (which doesn’t even publish a Barton & Tredworth community page any more) were ignoring us. I only took charge because the prospect of (the now sacked) Mahmoud Patel’s little protegé, Shaun Moore, being in control, which would have happened otherwise, wasn’t worth thinking about. See his idea of keeping the ward informed of events: Ask him to advertise the St. James’ Park Fun Day, as I have*, and see what response you get.

    * a ‘positive contribution’ to ‘support an event’ that was ignored. As usual.

  13. Joe K says:

    ‘Not personal at all then………’

    Facts are facts, just like sarcasm is sarcasm…

  14. Joe K says:

    Speaking of animated images, Phil really needs to stop banging his head against walls. I suspect it’s too late for that, though 😉

  15. Joe K says:

    Hey, I looked at your site, I thought it was all right (‘specially the bit about chapters).

    One constructive quibble; you don’t need all that ‘index.php…’ stuff on the Glos boards links. Just end with ‘boards/’. you can even drop the last slash. Same goes for the British History Online and the Civic Trust, probably, (although probably *not* Facebook). It just looks tidier, is all.

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Thanks for the tip – that would definitely look neater. Will sort it out next time I update. More pub info next but may take a while – precising to ~100 words is tough!

  16. SteveRuk says:

    Gent’s, back to the original subject matter in hand. It would appear that the carnival is now returned to it’s (almost) glory.

    The route has been shortened, which seemed to be the logical decision from the start. However, this discussion has bloomed some wonderful internet relationships.

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      I can’t argue that the carnival is undoubtedly better with the parade, so perhaps I should take it back: on this occasion complaining won the day and got changes made.

  17. Pingback: Gloucester Carnival « Darrel Kirby's Blog

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