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Summer in London Shitty

In a 3-part series for The Basement — 'London, I Love You But I Don't Like You Right Now' — writer Zakiyyah Deen shares her experiences of being a young person in the capital.

Ahhh British summer – another thing we love to hate and hate to love. Shorts? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Umbrella just in case it rains? Check. Puffer Jacket because true say London is unpredictable and the weather app is a snake? Check. Alexa play ‘Summertime’ by Vybz Kartel because oh, oh, here we go summertime is here you know. And given that our small talk is centred around the weather, I thought why not spend a whole article chatting rubbish and reminiscing about the hottest season of the year.

Whether it is at the beach or on ends, I can’t wait to have my first summer ice cream of the year. Yeah I’m a fan of the posh gelatos you can get that are in the shape of a rose but nothing beats a Mr.Whippy. But at the same, inflayshun be inflating and now I’m seeing nonsense like £4 for a 99 flake? Like it actually gets me mad. Clues in the name. And then some are even charging more for simple strawberry sauce and sprinkles?  Furthermore, come outside Mr Whippy. I just want to chat to you real quick. 

Separately, have you noticed that as soon as there is even a prospect of the weather being over 16 degrees celsius, British people suddenly get the uncontrollable urge to find a pub garden and to find it fast? Bonus points are given to the ones with outdoor heaters and covered seating because let’s be honest we ain’t too sure how long the temperature will hold up and better safe than soaked. The football fanatics and oblivious observers come out in full force watching pub screens whilst cheering and chanting and regular intervals. I once thought f*ck it and joined in with the uproar. No clue what was going on – just vibes. Speaking of vibes, you man that walk around topless in this sticky heat are really something innit. But if I back off my top on the central line (aka Dante’s inferno – see previous article for rant) you will say I’m mad. Smh.

If you can’t get into a pub and/or drinking ain’t your thing, there is always the park. Parks are transformed into areas of enhanced enjoyment. On one side of the spectrum you’ve got your local park (or patch of grass) where you set up your makeshift BBQ, speaker and just chill. Friends, families, lovers and loners all enjoying the extra daylight and small small sunshine our London shitty has to offer. It ain’t much, but we work with it and more time these intimate moments and impromptu motives are the ones we cherish the most. On the other side of the spectrum you’ve got your mega parks hosting your favourite festivals and fetes. Your Brockwells, your London Fields. Hampstead Heath if you’re boujie. Objectively disgusting for anyone not from London, weirdly nostalgic for those of us who have grown up here. And no word of a lie, there is something for everyone. And sometimes all in one place.

But no festival or street party can compare to the ultimate fete…Notting Hill Carnival, aka Carni. Two days of nyaming good food, wuking up your waist and soaking in beautiful black and brown culture. From my first carnival experience when I was a little yute, mumzy taught me about the importance of carnival. It was not just a big street party but an event of resistance; a radical act of joy for us members of the diaspora. All in response to Babylon, race relations and simply missing home. So as you pass raging riddims and magic masqueraders, walk and whine down Westbourne Park Road, grab a munch in Ladbroke Grove, remember the heart of carnival. And with its big comeback this year, I’ve got a feeling this one is going to be one to remember. 

(Oh and just a little side note to round this up if you are one of those people that complain there is too much soca at carnival then we can’t be friends. I don’t make the rules. Sorry.)

Alas, if you text me and I’m at home you have my full permission to come to my house and drag me out by my two front teeth. Because this summer where we at? … oh you wanna know where we at? WE’RE OUTSIDEEEEEEEE. And ain’t no virus, recession or hayfever stopping us. I mean it can try but this year we are fighting back. Enjoy your summer people dem.


‘London, I Love You But I Don’t Like You Right Now’ is a 3-part series by Zakiyyah Deen. Zak is a writer and actor from London, whose work saw her awarded runner-up in The Guardian and gal-dem young Black writers competition, judged by Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams.