Well I have just had a fabulous time with the family at the Philleigh Fair. It was full of simple pleasures and reminded me of how good things can be. I’m not a brown rice eating, macramé swimsuit type of gal but I do think that we are all fatter, lazier and greedier than we used to be. We want things and we want them now and we don’t want to work hard for them – oh no – nor do we expect to pay much for them. And we’re so impatient; if the phone isn’t answered after 5 rings we’re incensed, having to queue behind a whole three other people in the supermarket? Outrageous! Do you remember that lovely sketch in To the Manor Born when Audrey walks into her local village store that has now been turned into a supermarket and proclaims loudly that if no one comes and serves her she will just have to help herself! So maybe we haven’t changed all that much.
Funfairs just seem to be symptomatic of our modern greed and disillusionment, maybe the clue is in the word “fun” If a fair is proceeded by “fun” then you can guarantee it won’t be. You will dish out £3 to sit on a ride which will literally reacquaint you with your breakfast 2 minutes later. A clever trick but not one I’m fond of and for what it’s worth I find myself a little bit surprised that when I successfully throw a hoop I don’t win one of the big hanging dolphins that swing invitingly from the rafters but a scrawny looking toy wiped out from under the counter.
So I set off for Philleigh with a vague sense of unease but I should have noticed it was a fair not a funfair and it was brilliant. It takes place in one field, nothing is motorised, there is one stream engine playing tunes and that’s it for mechanical moving parts. No candy floss, no scream if you want to go faster. Lots of screaming of laughter from the greasy pole though, cheers and clapping from the hay bale tossing, a coconut shy where the coconuts do fall off – but not when I was trying! And only 50p a go. The boys loved throwing tent pegs in a bucket – simple pleasures but it was harder than it looked, Steve liked the beer tent and Mum was taken with the sheep racing. Again I kept betting on the wrong sheep, clearly I am not a good studier of form.
My favourite event was the dog racing. The dogs chase a fox tail from one end of the track to the other, first past the post is the winner. Harry and I missed our race but we were told we could enter the next race. However, I was warned that whilst we were welcome to take part, the race was for long dogs. Ha! thought I, and yes, I did have an exclamation mark in my thoughts, if my Springer spaniel couldn’t beat a bunch of Daschunds then we were a poor show and no mistake. Oh the hubris as I walked onto the race course to find Harry and I surrounded by whippets, greyhounds and every other version of the Ferraris of the canine world. Ah, those sorts of long dogs. It would be fair to say that we didn’t win, in fact Harry was so nonplussed by all the noise and excitement that when the off was given Harry, for the first time, sat at my feet and looked up at me with tongue lolling as if to say – “Yes? Now what” He didn’t budge a muscle, he just sat there with a happy daft smile on his face and to be honest I probably looked the same. I’ll have to wait another year for the next Philleigh fair but it’s going to be great.
This week I am unashamedly re-reading and thoroughly enjoying Riders and Rivals by Jilly Cooper, please don’t think less of me – they’re great fun, proper rotten baddies, plucky heroines and totally undemanding, happy novels. What more do you want on your hols?
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