Thursday 13 November 1986

…This afternoon’s PE lesson was football.
It was horrible, dreadful, outrageous and plain stupid.
1. It was throwing it down with rain.
2. There were piles of mud of everywhere.
3. It was freezing cold.
Loughborough is in absolute chaos and mayhem.
Traffic jams two miles long, people stuck on traffic lights,
diversions in operation everywhere.
The reason: the fair.
The fair opened this afternoon and we went at 6pm.
I went on the ghost train which was horrible, the helter skelter,
the fun house, the merry-go-round and the dodgems…

The funfair still visits my hometown at this time every year. It was there this weekend.

I believe it now costs something like £20 to go on one ride. Twenty-five years ago it cost something like 20p to go on one ride. Both of these figures are more than likely inaccurate, but serve a purpose all the same.

My love for the funfair didn’t survive into adolescence. Or to be more precise, it didn’t survive beyond the point where you were meant to stop going with your parents and start going with your friends.

I also went off it because it started to feel somewhat embarrassing to be seen to be a) enjoying yourself in public and, worse, b) enjoying yourself in public on a plastic horse fixed to a giant multi-coloured musical spinning top.

Both of these things are, of course, entirely permissible once you reach that point in adulthood where you’re allowed to no longer care what others think of you, which I would argue is when you reach the age of 30.

Perhaps my most vivid memory of the funfair, however, is nothing to do with the rides at all.

It’s the fact that the people who ran the fair parked their caravans and mobile homes in the street outside my primary school.

We would watch them warily. They would watch us wearily. But that was the extent of it. No mobs of parents with pitchforks. No petitions to the local council. Nothing, in fact, except a bit of infantile petulance towards strangers, and we acted like that towards anything unfamiliar, such as being served cheese pie on a Tuesday instead of a Monday.

Twenty-five years on, my primary school doesn’t exist anymore. It has disappeared from the consciousness of the town. I imagine the people who run the fair have done the same.

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