When I was a kid we had a big recreational park at the end of our road. For most of the year we were free to enjoy the vast lawns, the swings, the paddling pool, the outdoor swimming pool, the tennis courts and the bowling green (to be honest, we didn’t ever go in the bowling green though, that was strictly out of bounds unless you were over 60 and wearing white). We (my brothers and I) were quite frightened of the park warden, who seemed to be permanently grumpy: the zenith of that being the day when our dog brought down a model airplane and ate it. The dog was banned unless he was on a lead from that point on. But there was something in the park that was scarier than the warden.
Every August bank holiday weekend the park was taken over by a huge county show, including a donkey derby and mini tractor racing, and yes, even a ‘best cake’ competition but the biggest draw was the funfair which came to life at night. Now, according to my mum (who worked in Health and Safety) this fair had to be run by cowboys and morons and if any one of us dared to get on a ride (which clearly, according to her, must have not been serviced and would be missing some crucial nut or bolt) then we would surely die after being flung 50 metres across the park into something hard and most probably pointy, i.e. the railings. This approach to funfairs was instilled in me from an early age: I was seven when we moved to the house with the evil fair up the road. The bumper cars were allowed, there always seemed to be a bloke with a fag in his mouth hanging off the end of ours; and the waltzers as well, they were more or less attached something solid, but if you were ever caught squandering your pocket money on something which swung around at great speed at anything above head height, well you’d better look for somewhere new to live.
This meant that mostly we had to entertain ourselves with trying to win goldfish on the Hook-A-Duck stall and eyeing up the candy floss sellers (it’s not a diet food is it? Cast an eye over your average candy floss seller, do they have their own teeth? My mum also had an opinion on that, but it was deemed less fatal than going on any ride which actually left the ground).
So, I had to jump over some old preconceptions this weekend when I took La Gidg down to the local fair in Port Andratx. The demonis in the Corre Foc still scare her, but the fair fascinates her. I am the other way around, so it was a real pleasure to share with her the things that I know do make a fair: please welcome to the Family Matters pet roll call of honour, Whizzy the Goldfish. It took two attempts to get him, but I was determined. And no, we didn’t brush our teeth after the candy floss, we can live a little dangerously, after all.