It had been a hard week, so when I saw a poster for a funfair, peeling off the inside of an abandoned shop window, I thought “This is exactly what I need!”

I arrived at the wasteground by the edge of the Trading Estate just after lunch, and I could smell the candyfloss and hear the traditional sound of blistering hardcore techno, blasting out of speakers next to an airbrushed painting of Michael Jackson circa “Bad.”

With so many rides to go on, I could barely contain my delight. I ran over to the first one I could see, a shooting gallery. I handed the man a two pound coin, he handed me an air rifle, and I took aim. I was looking at the target, but my mind was on the prize – a huge teddy bear that says “I Luv U” on a heart.

My shooting skills must have been rusty, as I missed. On the second shot, I realised the sights were so out, I’d probably miss the target at point blank range. I miss again, so I take up my complaint with the proprietor. He cocked a rifle that I imagine had truer sights, so I walked on.

I was feeling a little hungry, so I popped over to a booth selling popcorn and sweets. I purchased a toffee apple, handing over a twenty pound note. When I received four pounds change, I cheerily pointed out the error. The guy leaned out of his booth, looked me in the eye and said it had been a fiver. I left it at that.

Biting into the toffee apple, I expected the rush of crisp sweetness mixing with the caramel – however, the apple inside was a month old if it were a day. The skin was shrivelled, and inside was rotten brown sludge. I threw it into the long grass by a generator, spitting and wiping my tongue.

Feeling a little hard done by, I wandered around, took in the atmosphere. A drooling brown rottweiler leaped up at me as its vast United-shirted owner laughed and said “Ee won’t ‘urt a fly!” his face as red as the shirt. A group of schoolgirls pointed over at me, said something, then entered hysterics. Their phones came out, they took photos, for some reason.

This wasn’t how I remembered the fair.

Ah! But here is something traditional – a wooden cut out with a painting of a fat woman wearing a pink bikini and a big red hat, holding a bucket and spade, with a crab biting her bottom. I sidle over, and peer through the hole where her face would be. The girls look over, so I quickly withdraw my face, only to feel my ears catch on the wood. With a stab of pain, I realise I’m stuck. There is suddenly a crowd. A wall of tracksuited kids pointing, their dads jeering and grotesque, faces contorted with beer and fat, bellow insults. A  soaking wetspongerockets from the crowd, slaps me straight in the face. Another few follow in quick succession, and someone boots me hard up the arse. The crowd are laughing, and there is a volley of flashes from camera phones. Dads and sons support each other to avoid falling down from the hilarity of it all. Everyone has gathered together to smash soaking sponges into my face. I’m glad they are wet, as they won’t see the tears roll down my face.

Tears of joy: I’ve found somewhere I can belong at last.


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