Of the many memories of carnival – the toe tapping music, the delicious food and the not to be forgotten sheer spectacle of the show, the colourful costumes are always a major reminder of the event.
Joyce’s carnival costume (left) reflected the colours of the Jamaica flag. Today, Joyce’s memories of carnival are as fresh as they were when she joined the troupe for the 2017 carnival. “It was exhilarating. It was energising and I loved it. It was also the first time that I was part of a troupe.” It was also the 50th anniversary of the Leeds West Indian Carnival and the 55th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.
The turban on Joyce’s costume sported a variety of fruit. This fruit cocktail brought back memories of the Brazilian singer, Carmen Miranda and the amazing fruit hats that she wore in films. Joyce’s troupe was called “Age Is No barrier” and represented the Jamaica Society (Leeds). The troupe won the best newcomer in carnival award that year. Revd Dorothy, a former curate at St Martin’s who still plays a part in church events, was also a member of the troupe.
The bright, vibrant, yellow colour of Joyce’s costume reminded me of the yellow allamanda flower pictured. The allamanda bush grew in my parents’ garden in Trinidad and brought back memories of tropical sunshine and happy times.
The carnival costume titled “Salute” was part of the carnival costumes exhibition. It brought back memories of the carnival and flowers show which the St Martin’s flower team did at the Chapeltown Arts Festival in 2016. The salute to the Queen was created as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. It featured the Queen’s coat of arms and Union Jack flags. The coat of arms backdrop was used in the carnival and flowers show. Patsy from the St Martin’s flower team created the floral arrangement pictured below.
The flowers complemented the colours of the Queen’s coat of arms. The blue/purple delphiniums reflected the regal purple colour associated with the monarchy and the multi-hued rainbow roses gave an indication of the range of peoples and races in the UK and in the Commonwealth. The white chrysanthemums outlined the number 90 which highlighted the Queen’s 90th birthday that was celebrated that year.
Cedric, a musician, remembers the music at carnival and has strong memories of the Wilberforce Steel Band in 1976.
Paul remembers the first year that he was in the carnival procession. “My mum came to see me even though she was ill. That was the last year that she came to carnival as she died the following year.”
In previous years, St Martin’s has hosted its own carnival troupe. In 1989, the troupe represented “Fantasy Island”. Many of the troupe were young children, now grown up. Sadly, some of the adult members are no longer with us. The memories however are still happy ones of being part of the carnival extravaganza.