All the fun of the fair

When I was growing up, one of the highlights of the year was the fair, which came to my home town in September. Originally a sheep and cattle market, where farmers would trade their animals, it gradually acquired some more exciting aspects and, by the time I was in school, had become a funfair with a corner dedicated to a few pens holding some rather bored sheep, just to remind us of the fact that the county's economy was based on dairy cattle.

The approach to the fair was always via a short cul-de-sac called, rather poetically if inaccurately, Fairfield Gardens. None of the houses had gardens.

The first thing you saw after passing the gate to the fairfield was always the swing-the-hammer-and-hit-the-thingy-to-try-to-hit-the-bell thing. Then it was into a world of Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, dodgems and ghost trains. We could feast on toffee-apples, candy-floss and hot dogs, and it was all our mother could do to stop us getting on the Waltzer with all that stuff battling it out in our stomachs.

I remember when I was quite young, and I let go of my helium-filled balloon — and was overly disappointed to watch it continue upwards, disobeying all orders to return. The next day, my mother told me she'd been back to the fair, and I should see what she'd found there. She let me believe it was my balloon, but of course it wasn't. Subsequently, I felt cheated when it shrivelled up a couple of days later.

Alas, these days Fairfield Gardens leads to Safeway's Supermarket and a modern housing estate, as the town expands to meet its similarly expanding neighbours. The fair had a brief period on a field out of town, until the new relief road was built.

Clearly, modern convenience is more important than actual happiness. After all, how else are we to measure human achievement?

Andrew has his own website: Visit for articles on a wide range of subjects
By: Andrew Bossom, e-mail:, website:
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