WHERE do you start summarising the past week? From Soca Monarch to Panorama Finals to Dimanche Gras to Jouvert to Carnival Monday and Tuesday and everything in between...and realise that it all went by so fast.
Although Pan Trinbago and the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation do their best to drag it out as long as possible, up to or past 3 a.m. on Sunday and Monday, respectively, before we get to hear the official results.
Maybe that is one of the reasons why they no longer command capacity audiences, with the North Stand just over half-full last Saturday night, when the first big band didn't come on stage until after 11 o'clock.
It wasn't so long ago that Panorama was finished by 2 a.m. and you could head to the nearest fete. Now, many spectators are struggling to stay awake to get through to the end of the show.
If the medium bands are kept on the Saturday line-up, then they have to start no later than 6 p.m., which of course means 7 o'clock, which actually was the official starting time, but the first medium band was more than an hour late.
There is no denying the majority of pan lovers come to hear the big bands, so why must Pan Trinbago make them suffer year after year. Is it possible to alternate the line-up, with a medium band then a big band?
If we want the foreign visitors—I'm not talking about returning nationals, who are accustomed to sitting through the whole session—to continue to patronise Panorama then they must be catered to.
Pan Trinbago has already lost almost half of the North Stand so it better do something before the Grand Stand aficionados start to trickle away. Most of them are already past middle age, so someone has to think about getting a younger audience to appreciate what is still the greatest night of pan in the world, the Grand Prix of the artform. Because in ten years or less, on Finals night, the Grand Stand will also be half-full!
Looking on the brighter side of things, though, while everyone is still alive and kicking, All Stars and Katzenjammers are national champions to be proud of, the former holding off the stiff challenge of Phase II and Silver Stars and the latter outplaying Tobago brethren in Buccooneers.
And the next day dawned with their sweet sounds still ringing in your ears. But with not enough sleep it was time to get busy on Carnival Sunday and this year the afternoon into evening lime was at Frankies on the Avenue, where Uncle Harry, Rufus, Weasel and Boo started in the shade and moved onto the pavement to get closer to the action going by.
By the time they were ready to leave, Harry was still sober and the others had drunk his share and more. So much so that Boo and Weasel, in their stupor, followed Rufus home for a dye job from his wife...and six days later Boo's formerly grey head looks progressively worse with each passing day, while Weasel is nowhere to be seen since then.
Still stale drunk, Boo wasn't thinking about his new-found colour when the alarm rang the next morning, just before 3 o'clock, when Dimanche Gras was still being wrapped up...ditto what was said about Panorama...and a warm bed was about to be replaced by cold mud.
Thanks to a police roadblock in Cocorite and traffic in St James, the usual suspects did not get to Caribs clubhouse in time to pay for the Jouvert band, which is an annual ritual, so they shamelessly listened to Silver Stars for free, which almost got one or two of them thrown out...but that's another story.
With the application of some wet soil and paint, they were soon in the flow of things, though, and as Caribs' Crapaud band came around the top of the Queen's Park Savannah and down past the Magnificent Seven, they were feeling no pain.
It was pure bliss in the darkness.
"Good morning, Silver Stars!" exclaimed the DJ of a band coming in the opposite direction and there was a collective cheer from both sets of revellers. And that appreciation for the third-placed Panorama band continued throughout the morning, their non-stop playing and enthusiasm being savoured by the followers.
They were sounding even sweeter by the time they went past the stands at Adam Smith Square, with Ariapita Avenue being one long procession of steelbands and captivated spectators, including a beauty from Panama looking on at the side of the road.
By then the sun was on the rise and those with costumes for pretty mas were already thinking about the rest of the day. But not everyone had stopped the Jouvert and a packed band on Long Circular Road caused the quartet of Boo, Rufus, Megas and Andrew to take a detour over Morne Coco Road.
And the first pit stop was Success bar in Maraval, where Rufus got out for beers and was soon "doing the dog" in the tiny establishment, to the delight of the patrons.
He was still going strong later that afternoon, having quickly made the transition from mud to what he claimed was P Diddy in chains in Hart's band, the Jouvert foursome—with the exception of one hen who grabbed a half-hour catnap—having abandoned sleep for the day.
After all, at their age, they need to take advantage of every waking hour of Carnival.
Until next year...