Monday, July 25, 2011

1977: I need me some sugar

What's your view on fairgrounds?

Personally, I used to love them, but I've not been near one in about 20 years. I prefer theme parks and I'm always mindful to keep away from anything that goes spinning round. Up and down, fine. Corkscrew, sudden drops, sudden jolts, okay. But round and round. Even writing this makes me feel bilious.

In the summer of '77, we went to the local fair. It was always a big deal when the fair came to town and we usually went at least three times. While small, it was jam-packed with waltzers, a really scary ghost train where, on exit, a man in a skeleton suit jumped out at you - properly scary the first time it happened as it came as a complete surprise - and other wonderful, death-defying contraptions.

The whole atmosphere was brilliant. The smell of candy floss and fried onions, the sounds coming from the arcade, screams from thrills-seekers, the whoosh of the rides, the alarms as they're due to start, the indecipherable fuzzy announcements and of course, the music.

This apparently Northern soul classic song really reminds of the fair, and it was a great place to hear all your current faves. I was praying the Dead End Kids' Have I The Right would be heard as we boarded the waltzer, and indeed it did. But fun was short-lived as the David Essex type in charge spun us round so often and so fast, that I could barely walk when we got off. I was so ill, that we had to postpone our holiday the next day because I was still suffering. Excuse me a moment *vomits into bin*. That's better.

So to this day I cannot and will not countenance anything that spins.

The only consolation is I did come away with a Roxy Music mirror. Thing is, I could never look in it.


  1. Do they still make mirrors with pictures of pop stars on them? Gone the same way as the big pound note with pop stars on them, probably.

    We had a little permanent seaside funfair where I grew up. They demolished it to make way for a motorway (this is turning into a song, now). I loved it, especially the ghost train.

  2. I associate this song with some expressed choreography, and it's odd that it only seemed to emerge at discos round my way in the mid-80s, long after this was a hit, and performed dominantly by kids too young to remember 1977 at all.

    It involved jumping around at 90 degrees per line, while also doing some kind of sub-Superman action with one's hands - behind the head, "combing hair", on the hips etc. I know masses of kids born in the early to mid 70s round East Yorkshire will remember it, but I genuinely wonder whether anyone else used this specific choreography at all.

    It's like Contact by Edwin Starr - that brought out some kind of frenetic foot-only kicking movement that was a strain on the ankle ligaments. And again, my generation of kids performed it during a song that pre-dated their disco-attending, record-buying era. Most odd.

    Of course, we Hullensians have long laid claim to the largest travelling fair in Europe. It pops up on Walton Street for a week every October.

  3. I don't remember a dance at the time, and was first made aware of it at a wedding in Huddersfield in 1997.

    I raced to the dancefloor, thinking what a brilliant leftfield choice that was by the DJ, only to discover everyone around me doing this dance. They all knew it - except the southerners. I had to make a hasty exit.

    A local phenom, clearly.

  4. I wonder who on earth came up with it then? A Yorkshire dance to a song that was probably at least five years old by the time it caught on. How weird.

  5. I loved our local fair - the bottles of spirits with cash strapped to them or goldfish prizes, and a mixture of teddy boys, soul boys and skinheads scowling at each other. And those crazy rides: a single metal bar to hold you in place on the big wheel *shudders*

    Today when it pitches up, the kids love it, but I try to make sure we're away.

  6. Yes, Mondo, scary older kids you did your best to avoid. Always a pitfall, but didn't really put me off.

    It was hard to win prizes, especially with that claw thing that never managed to pick up the pack of cards with a £1 note wrapped around it.

  7. I first heard the song and discovered the dance moves at a Haven holiday camp in Bridlington. Yorkshire connection maybe?

  8. Wow , I'd forgotten Brendon and his overbite. Very much a fairground staple, you're quite right. Wanstead Flats and Valentine's Park (which reputedly inspired 'Itchycoo Park') were the top ones in my youth.

    Memories of cheesecloth shirts and A-line denim skirts, and my friend Diane shrieking as one of her hessian wedges fell from her left foot as she got to the top of the Big Wheel.

    There was also the annual Dagenham Town Show (violent), where my chief memory is being bought a racist black balloon which had hoop earrings and a feathered headdress glued on. Obviously I took my parents to task about it, though I was only four.

  9. Definitely an East Yorkshire connection it seems. Matt Rudd has just tracked down the original members of the Brendon Memorial Hoofers over on Facebook.

    Ah, wedges! Denim! Cheesecloth! And that was just the boys.