Seen it and done it all, driver? Believe me, you haven’t! Go and pull an extendable wafer deck round Notting Hill Carnival next August bank holiday, then we can talk. When Mike Ponsonby agreed to pull four low-loaders with a festival sound system, double-decker platforms and a troupe of carnival performers around Notting Hill Carnival, he could never have imagined what
he signed up for.
Fresh out of winning UK Best Fleet at Convoy in the Park, four M A Ponsonby drivers headed down to London at 4am on the Saturday to begin loading the trailers for the weekend celebrations. The trailers were set to be equipped with two large low-dB generators, £150K-plus sound systems, and huge double-decker platforms.
It was a serious undertaking to load and secure the technical cargo in the hot weather. Never had so many car alarms been set off by bass-related vibrations amid festival level sound testing in suburban streets.
As the £2 million convoy rolled at a walking pace towards the Ladbroke Grove starting point, on the morning of the ‘Quiet’ Sunday Family Day Carnival the drivers nearly died at the sight they were greeted by. Hundreds of thousands of excited revellers throwing powdered paint into the air! Not looking for any unplanned airbrushing, they had their hearts in their mouths.
Luckily, as they approached, the paint throwing stopped. The convoy edged forwards afoot at a time into spaces that didn’t exist. As the security attempted to herd the crowds away from the trucks, not a single axle was visible and the mirrors were vibrating so much from the music that the difficulty of this job really began to strike home.
Throw into the mix some tight turns, half-naked dancers, Caribbean tunes and a DJ trying to blow out windows and you have the perfect storm for ultimate driver distraction.
After jumping on the CB radio for the driver behind to remote-steer the trailer and the DJ turning the volume down to neighbourhood watch-friendly levels, the longest of the trailers came nicely round the city street circuit and everything was turned back up all the way 11.
With the first day out of the way, the four Ponsonby drivers had to polish the trucks and get ready to roll again for the earlier start on the ‘Mad Monday’ bank holiday Carnival. If you thought you had seen it all, the Monday is another level of chaos.
It’s safe to say that the weekend was absolutely insane from a driver’s perspective but really great fun for everyone who attended, while the effort made by the performers with their amazing costumes were fantastic. “Give us a boat, plane or crane and a route with a few inches spare any day of the week. M A Ponsonby is ready for anything after that weekend!” says Mike.
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