Nicola Monaghan's news, events and general thoughts about life and writing.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Circus versus The Fair.

'It's not fair!' I used to moan at my mum when I was a little girl, in that annoying, whiny voice kids use when they want something, the kind of voice that makes you want to give them anything they say if they'll just stop. 'It's not fair till October,' my mum used to say. That used to be true when I was little. And when October came and you went to the fair, made yersen sick with too much candy floss and mushy peas (an appetising mix) and then the waltzers, your head snapping back as they went too fast and you screamed to make them go faster. You came away wearing your Kiss me Quick hat feeling nauseous, worn out and completely satisified with your lot.

These days, though, I don't know. Me and the dear husband have a bit of a problem with the fair in October, the Goose Fair. I mean, it looks kinda pretty, from the road at night with all the lights on, and there are a few rides that look kinda impressive. I noticed this time round some contraption of flying swings that went way higher than any similar fairground attraction I've ever seen, as well as a log flume and a smallish rollercoaster, all really a mile away from the big wheel and Wall of Death that were the highlights of my teenage fairs.

The problem for me starts when you walk down Gregory Boulevard or any of the surrounding streets. There's a lack of atmosphere. There's a lack of, well, a lack of much sign that you're approaching the fair. The side shows and fortune tellers used to run all the way down the boulevard, and lots of the other surrounding streets, but they just don't anymore. Maybe these kinds of attraction just don't get the punters in anymore, but it doesn't feel like Goose Fair with so few of them.

It doesn't get better as you walk inside. For me, these days, there's just something missing from Goose Fair. A vital thing, like a heart or a soul. It feels dead inside, and smaller than it used to. That could be the difference in my relative size but I don't think it is. I've been there as a teenager and as an adult. I believe it genuinely is smaller than it used to be. And don't get me started on the prices, or the rip off stalls where you are guaranteed a prize, but it never turns out to be one of the massive, great stuffed Disney cuddlies on display... There's inflation, and then there's taking the piss.

This year, we went to the circus instead. That is, the Circus Extravaganza organised by Left Lion. This event was free. Yeah, you heard right. Free. It didn't cost a thing. To be honest, I couldn't really go to Goose Fair instead because I was signed up to read at the spoken word. But that's not the point.

I was really glad we went to the circus instead of Goose Fair. We hung around for the entire spoken word event. It was by far the best event of its type I've been involved in. I read with a lovely young lady, and a fabulous writer, Megan Taylor, and we had conferred beforehand so that we chose pieces with a certain synergy. I shared a new story, one that no one had read or workshopped. It was a dark story about childhood, and some of the daft things adults tell kids. It seemed to go down well. After this there was some fabulous poetry, including the beautiful Aly Stoneman, accompanied on guitar by her friend Milk. After this Al Needham interviewed Rebecca Dakin, author of The Girlfriend Experience. Somehow I knew Nottingham's Mr Sex would find the right questions to ask, and he didn't let us down. Rebecca came across as bubbly and very genuine, and we bought the book.

The event climaxed (a good word under the circumstances) with a reading by Al of extracts from his award winning blog Todger Talk. It were mint, as our Al would've said. It was all bloody funny, but the highlights for me were this little peach, and then this one, which was his closing shot, if you'll pardon my exact choice of words, under the circumstances. Brilliant. I can't wait for Al's book, which he bloody well better write or I'll send some of me mates from Broxta after him.

We left all this behind and went out looking for a good band. We were spoiled for choice, with stuff going on at all the pubs in the area. We were also lucky enough to catch Shop's dead celebrity reinactment of the Thriller Video. It's not every day you get to see Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury, Kurt Cobain, Audrey Hepburn, Heath Ledger and Marilyn Monroe, amongst others, dancing together on the streets of Nottingham. You definitely wouldn't get it at the fair. It was class. (And they knew all the moves.)

Perhaps the best thing about the entire evening was the way it felt around Canning Circus. There was a real sense that there was something special going on. A proper atmosphere. You wouldn't get that at Goose Fair either. 

Nice one Left Lion crew. You did real good.

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