Monday, 20 April 2015

All the fun of the fair

The music pumped out of the various rides, enticing us on - scream if you want to go faster. The sun was low in the sky, saying goodbye to another beautiful spring day in Sussex. The gaudy lights and flashing bulbs encouraged the kids into a frenzy. Two pounds fifty for the bumper cars, three pounds for the twister, another two pounds for a walk through some badly painted rooms and down a slide. And another one pound fifty for the mirror maze - but the toothless man selling this experience was too delightful to refuse, maybe a gypsy, maybe not - caring about our health and safety and letting him on for free, so that the children didn't walk straight into the mirrors. I thought that was the point.

All this catapulted me back to my youth, we looked forward to Bridgwater fair all year in Somerset. In fact we saved up for weeks. The excitement of fair week was palpable at school.

"Goin' up fair tonight?" we'd ask each other, forming little gangs to roam the huge fairground.

We'd work out what we were wearing in friendship groups, hang out by the cool rides and eat candy floss provocatively. For the fair was not just rides for entertainment, it was a pulling ground, a flirtatious place, a time of year when you hoped to bump into the boy you fancied or catch a wink from the gypsies selling the the fairground dream.

I smiled as we left our tame Sussex village version of a fair - a group of girls in hot pants and denim jackets, eating chips and toffee apples sauntered past us. And two minutes later a group of lads appeared from the other direction, staring sidewards out of their floppy fringes, looking but not looking.

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