Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Fair's In Town

Well it's the weekend of the annual Loughborough fair. I will practise with my new camera and try to get some of those amazing piccys that we see in all the photo-mags which never seem to turn out quite the same when I try it. Never give up though is my motto, eventually I may get the classic night-time fair lights shot!

This has given me cause to contemplate when I was a growing up. In my local home town in Suffolk there was always a sense of excitement as the fair weekend approached especially as we had been saving up to go for months and months from the pocket money. It always set up on the village green in the next village to my home town. This necessitated a walk in the evening if the weather was fine of some 3 - 4 miles, a bus ride or in my teens a ride on the back of one of the scooters (I was a "Mod" in those days definitely not a "Rocker" a k a motor bike clan!!).

There was something about the fairs then that just seemed so magical which somehow has got sadly lost in today's commercial environment. Then the fair was the best form of entertainment for "the working classes" if you like. With cheap side stalls we could go on and win all sorts of fantastic prizes for as little as anything from a penny to sixpence. To win a goldfish in the little see through drawer-string bag was the best prize ever, usually by getting a ping pong ball in the metal buckets. This was a skill in itself because inevitably the ping pong balls bounced out of the buckets sometimes hitting you back in the face but a laugh nevertheless. Caused a bit of a problem when having to get the goldfish home on the back of the scooter but we managed it and the fish survived - a very long time actually!! Particularly as the passenger was supposed to hold on to the driver with both arms, but we were never caught by the local "Bobby" and even if we had been he would have just clipped our ears and told us not to do it again!! Health and Safety would have had a field day!! Then there was the inevitable coconut shies, with the boyfriends trying to impress their girlfriends by throwing the smallest very battered wooden balls to try to knock the coconut off it's sandy stand into the sawdust below. The smell of candy floss, toffee apples, coconut ice, hot dogs etc., was something else - tickling and teasing the nostrils to the extent that you could no longer resist the temptation and you just had to buy something with the last sixpence (2 and a half p in today's money!!)you had left. We would come away armed with an assortment of toys, not cheap rubbish that we get today, sometimes even kitchen utensils or crockery and we all felt we were the "best in show" for very little outlay.

Then the rides were something else too, again for very little outlay we had the times of our lives with everything from the massive swingboats, pulling on the ropes to go higher and higher and only being slowed down by the fairground attendants who used to "put the brakes on" by stopping us with the most enormous plank of tough but bendy wood which enevitably ground us to a halt, the smell & sound of wood biting on wood a memory never forgotten. The Cake walk where we had to try to walk on moving boards getting from one side of the stand to the other without falling down with the current pop music of the day deafening us whilst we fell in all sorts of ridiculous manners but laughing all the way. Then there was the Waltzers, a new invention then so we had to queue for the rides and the attendants would spin us around and around faster and faster, screams and peals of laughter ringing out. Most of all the dodgems, what a fantastic ride. Bombing around the metal floor, with electric sparks darting out of the bottom of the cars and out through the arials at the top, how fantastic was that and crashing as hard and as fast at possible into your mates or family members usually ending up in a multiple pile up on the dodgem floor with us falling about in hysterical laughter. All sights and sounds never to be forgotten by me but sadly not experienced in quite the same way by my children or grandchildren today, how I wish they had been there then just to see and know how different it was then and oh so much more fun.

Oh please bring back the traditional fairs which are not blighted by health and safety rules, extortionate pricing that now puts them into the realms of only the rich and famous can afford to visit. Why can't we just have fun any more and live a little. Laughter is good for the soul and for us - a medically proven fact - so lets get back to it please!!

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