What better place to embark on the Cowley Road Carnival experience than at the Cape of Good Hope – or as near to that pub’s door as crowds allow. For what follows is an adventure in culture, creed and tongue, brought together with a uniting ingredient – smiles.

I know this sounds a bit ‘deep’ for me, but the carnival, now restored to its proper place on that less-than-a mile stretch of Cowley Road, proves how with sincere and determined effort, supported by tantalising food and a mixture of music, all nationalities can enjoy something special.

One of the most amusing sights featured an elderly Barton couple – they admitted to being 80-plus – waltzing to whatever tune was played by the bands outside the aforementioned pub. And why not?

I hadn’t a clue what the song was all about when this middle-aged West Indian woman grabbed my arm and invited me to dance outside the Bullingdon. How could I refuse? We didn’t win any prizes but neither were we booed off stage.

Meanwhile, the procession of brightly dressed schools and community organisations made its way along Cowley Road, led by their bands, none trying to blend with others but determined to be heard.

BUT the carnival wasn’t all ear-bending noise. An area behind the mosque was set aside for quiet contemplation. A Reiki master, in the shape of a young Italian woman called Paola, a team introducing the traditional Chinese self-improvement practice of Falun Gong, and another showing how Tai Chi can help relieve stress, were ready for action.

I tried my hand – or rather arms, torso and legs – with the Falon Gong, and then sought help from Paola for my ‘footballer’s knee’, but drew a line at Tai Chi.

Quit while you’re ahead I say.

Nearby the Stroke Association was checking blood pressure. My reading showed no permanent harm had been done.

IT didn’t stop me dropping the proverbial clanger. A young woman in a vivid pink multi-layered netting dress, smiled and said “Hello.” I asked which fancily attired group she had been with on the parade. The smile faded. She hadn’t. This was her going-out dress and she was meeting her boyfriend at Carfax. Ouch!

A WORD about the many marshals and helpers. They did a first-class job. How many of these were encouraged to volunteer by the appeal headed by Miss Oxfordshire, Layla Claridge, I can’t say, but she certainly increased the demand for selfies.

I’m not so technically advanced, but determined not to miss out on the chance to be pictured with this brainy and beautiful young lady, I asked a steward to do the honours. Grandsons – eat your hearts out!