Modern funfairs are the best places on earth.
Their greedy consumerism, hedonism and unbridled tackiness make them everything that’s wrong with contemporary society packed into two hours of perfection: Las Vegas in your local park.
They promise a clutch of key activities whose purpose is not-to-be-sneezed-at pure joy:
Eating trashy food
Fat, carbs and sugar are the very fuel of high-adrenalin adventure.
This (rather than lack of alternatives) is the real reason that it is virtually a legal requirement to eat a burger and candy floss at a funfair and why low nutrition/high calorie quibbles are bogus.
Not the sort that involves paying the mortgage or meeting the in-laws but wrought from one’s willful engagement in a potentially-life threatening situation that will probably turn out all right.
Nausea induced from being pregnant or drinking too much alcohol isn’t nearly as re-generative.
Being a kid
The thrill of being bumped; swallowing your heart; losing your shoe; feeling dizzy; waiting your turn; being clicked into your seat; squeezing hands with your friend; and shouting ‘Faster’.
Immediately! Because I want to! Because it’s fun!
Getting an outside seat on the flying chairs
Blameless breeze-through-the-hair-head-spinning-legs-dangling-high-decibel-Beyonce-belting escapism.
Traditional funfairs, meanwhile, are the most depressing places on earth.
Steeped in a nostalgia designed to remind one of violent modern times, everywhere you turn a desperate tableau plays out: the girl in the rain collecting up the coconuts; the bored juvenile tea-cup guy sucking on a rolly; the gigantic wooden helter skelter spurned by the computer generation.
They resonate with the memory of weeping because they are the chosen venues of a particular set of tragedies:
The first dates of doomed relationships
The promise of shared frivolity, childish pleasures and spontaneous laughter against a backdrop of noisy distraction make cutesy fairs the ideal choice for nervous would-be lovers.
Unfortunately, a relationship that begins with a giant stuffed animal and candy floss can only go downhill.
Escorting a child at dusk to a large field filled with loud moving objects and hundreds of other children negates the necessity to dress them in a t-shirt that reads, ‘Take me away with you’.
Unless you have recently had an affair with Glenn Close who will save you even more trouble by accompanying them herself.
Extraordinarily enough, suspended lumps of metal, repeatedly stressed by gravity-defying trajectories, operated by 14-yr olds Facebooking on their mobiles, occasionally break.
The moment joyful screams bathed in upbeat music become the strangulated shrieks of a mutilated reveller is one a career fairground worker both dreads and secretly hopes for.
The onset of tinnitus/madness/homicidal tendencies in the merry-go-round operator.
If the incessant spinning, bobbing horses and goofy waving of riders at sappy by-standers don’t turn a person’s mind over time, the looped wurlitzer music will finish the job.
‘They say you garotted your parents with fake leather reigns?’
‘Yes, your Honour. I work the carousel.’
The most frequently occurring tragedy of all and the hardest from which to recover: scared on the flying seats, unlucky on a broken chair-o-plane; sick on the ferrus wheel; squashed on the Waltzer; unsuccessful at the shooting range.
With a cricked dodgems neck, ketchup down the t-shirt and an ice-cream on the grass.
Long live T.V.