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Mama Said: Is the funfair really. . . fun?

Emily Martin took her children to the fair for four minutes and spent £10

Mama Said: Emily Martin looks for the fun in funfair (48802127)
Mama Said: Emily Martin looks for the fun in funfair (48802127)

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the fair in that I loved it as a child, and hate it now.

I remember every summer, seeing the rides arriving in town on giant lorries, trundling their way onto the common and I’d start begging my parents to take me. And then they would and we’d walk through all the stalls and loud music booming from speakers. The smell of candy floss and hot chips. Billboards with gruesome images of Freddie Kruger and The Terminator snarling down and Dad would steer me gently towards the Hook a Duck…

There’s the family legend of Dad having to climb onto a moving ride and ask the gentleman to please stop it so he could remove me from it as I screamed and cried.

And then as a teenager we’d all arrange to meet up at the fair on Saturdays, or on a school evening which had that extra frisson of excitement - Monday night was “cheap night” when the rides were 30p but only lasted half the time.

I once had to play dead on the waltzer, just so the guy would stop spinning the car. He didn’t. He span my apparently dead body until that ride was over. And once I laughed so much on Dance City, sitting next to my best friend as we were flung hard from side to side, that I… well, let’s just say I had to go home.

But now I’m a parent, I see it from the other side. My children are still quite young so we haven’t really got into the swing of the fair yet. It’s something they’ve seen on TV. And they’ve been on a few rides at holiday parks, but they’ve not yet had the experience of walking down to the common before dinner for a quick flutter on the Hook a Ducks or face full of candyfloss.

Midsummer Fair was cancelled again this year, but a smaller funfair started to unpack on my village green last week. A few texts went round between the village mums. “The fair’s here, are you going?” “Maybe… don’t mention it to the children in case we don’t”.

The covert operation to conceal the fair from the children didn’t last very long though, as I read those texts and then idiotically drove my children straight past the fair later that day. “The fair!” They shouted. “Can we go? Can we go?” The pestering and begging started in earnest.

“Oh dear, it’s shut…” I said, as we sat in traffic next to the very clearly open fair, with waltzer cars spinning round and children wandering about wide-eyed and holding giant neon bears.

Later that night the Boy was crying. “Why are you crying?” I asked. “Because of the fair.” He replied. Sigh. We would have to go.

I told them they could have £5 each, and then I muttered to Tom that we’d be better off throwing the money straight in the bin. I’m so fun.

The Boy went off with his Dad and I took the Girl towards a small roller coaster. She strapped straight onto a pink Barbie bike and, as the tallest child on there, I winced as it rattled under a low bridge and wondered anxiously about health and safety. £2.50 gone.

Then she went on the water bumper-cars but, as the only child on there for the duration of her turn, she just reversed around a small pool of water. £3. That was the budget blown.

Boy reappeared looking grumpy and holding a neon ball on a boingy cord. “Do you want to go on the water bumper-cars?” I said. He didn’t because he thought he’d get wet, which he hates.

The Girl wanted to go on the trampoline thing where they strap you into a harness and you jump up and down… But I decided it was too expensive. I offered to just tie her to the trampoline at home but apparently we don’t have the correct elastic ropes.

So we went home. £10 spent in about four minutes. Two grumpy children. One village mum had apparently spent £45 and she’d only taken one kid.

Later that night Boy was crying, “Why are you crying?” I asked. “My ball is TOO boingy”.

When we drove past the fair the next morning they chorused from the back, “It’s still there, Mummy! Can we go? Can we go?”. I wonder if playing dead would work on them…


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