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Connyvoll Time Again
On Friday afternoons/evenings, the most important thing to Trinis is to stand on a street corner with a beer their hands. So much so, they’d rather wake up before dawn and get their Savannah exercise in before the morning traffic. So even Carnival Friday is less crowded than the first four days of the week around the Savannah pitch walk.
The Savannah pitch walk has been like the seven circles of Hell for the first seven weeks of 2019 but it happens every year. You get all the principal indicators early: nine million people jiggling around the Savannah every afternoon from the first week in January; homes and buildings suffering structural damage from the resonations of the mega-woofers; and a 15-minute wait for the pec-deck at the gym.
It must be Carnival time again.
Year-round, from Ash Wednesday to New Year's Day, regular Savannah people see the same other people around the Savannah. You smile at people you've never met, but whom you've come to think of as a sort of neighbour, distant family, even, because you see them four days a week. However, as soon as the Carnival Massive – it is the apposite word – realise that Carnival is at hand, the regular Savannah crowd is overrun, as it were, by vast hordes of outsiders.
You can sort the pitch walk occupants easily: the regulars are the ones steupsing five times a minute, every time they have to avoid another puffing obstacle; the invaders are gasping and sputtering five times a minute, every time they have to propel their vast bodies another step forward. Regular Savannah people perspire and strain with the effort of using everything they have at the end of their runs; Carnival Savannah invaders foam at the mouth at the beginning of their runs.
Year-round Savannah regulars dress down for their sweat. Most of the regular Savannah people wear the same clothes all the time. Even the hottest, fittest women wear the same lycra stretchpants over and over again. Thank God.
Savannah pretenders dress up to go for a run. They need five different track suits, one for each day of the week. Why don't they just buy one? Or even borrow one? It's not like they're going to last longer than a day, anyway. You see things at this time that you just don't see for the rest of the year, such as women wearing make-up that they don't know they're going to be sweating rivers through, and men with brand-new ankle weights, as if their bellies weren't enough to lift. They spend thousands on track suits, running shoes, headbands, ankle weights, knee straps, stop watches, tube socks, bicycle pants muscle vests and kettle-firetrucking-bells – when what they really need is ten dollars' pholourie and a milkshake.
At last, now, Carnival Friday, it’s too late. No one is going to fit into their panty-and-pasty “costume” any better tomorrow than they were yesterday. So they can stay home – or, better yet, go to the bar – and the regulars can come out to run or walk their Savannah in a straight line. No more dodging sumo wrestlers.
Oscar Wilde said second marriages were the triumph of hope over experience but its epitome is really the Savannah “Connyvoll” keep-fit crowd. It’s like they never learn. The worst thing is, after they’ve made people with a bit of Savannah savoir-faire steups and cuss and mutter to themselves and one another for seven weeks, they’re not even going to benefit from it: they’re going to be almost as out of shape on Jouve morning as they were on New Year’s.
And it will be the same three things that get them through the Carnival this year as last year and the one before: rum; inertia; and the real training that they did at fetes, where they attempted to eat and drink four figures worth of doubles and Grey Goose.
Which is one of the things the regular Savannah person will contemplate as he or she makes his easy way along the pitch walk today: if the economy has ground to a halt, how come you can still get 4,000 people to “Fete with the Saints” at $1,100 a head? Forget the construction industry, foreign direct investment and remittances from Brooklyn. Carnival fetes are the new oil.
BC Pires is over wait. Portions of this column appeared in a local newspaper in 1993