Gala, Gayla, Mop
This weekend was a big one in Framlingham with the annual Gala – which around here is pronounced Gayla. The last two years it has poured down with rain and been washed out, off, finite so this year glorious sunshine and I am ashamed to say I gardened the whole time. When the children were younger we would have been watching the parade; as little St John’s Badgers they were on the floats and wining fish at the fair. Some of the fish lived years and in more recent times our neighbours win them and put them into our pond.
When I was younger, growing up in Gloucestershire the local fair was called the Sodbury Mop. Chipping Sodbury a small market town with a name that has been the butt of many a joke has a superb wide high street and the fun fair is set up down the street. I was always fascinated by the sound and smells of the fair; that edge implying that there was risk of wrong doing and nare-do-wells. The Sodbury Mop fair stems from the old agricultural hiring fairs of Lady Day and Michaelmas, it helped that the September one was near my brother’s birthday so filling up with candyfloss toffee apples and wining fish was an absolute prerequisite to a good time. The fair has always been somewhere people went on dates and the bravado of the boys trying to show their unflappability whilst the girls screamed was all part of the fun.
Last week we went to Southend on Sea – actually has much that same atmosphere, the fairground rides, sticky sweets, with the addition of fish, chips, gravy and avery long pier; people on the lookout for a good time no matter what the weather and to win some quick cash on the one armed bandit or the penny falls (which now cost 2p).
What are your memories of country fairs, fetes and seaside towns at their brashest best?