The Fair

A Memory of Luton.

Christmas and birthdays were an under-whelming time of year in our household. However, Eastertime, coincided with the arrival of Stanley Thurston's fair (and a big dollop of rain).
l lived opposite Manor Rd Park (or reck) from 1956-64, and along with the lead up to bonfire night, this was the highlight of the year for this little black duck, and probably some of my local pals too!!
We'd spend the free daylight hours playing on, around, or in the empty trailers, and the evenings trawling the amusement machines or gawking at the paying public enjoying the rides.
There were some rides that returned every year like the dodgems, whip, octopus etc, and one (for some inexplicable reason) we called the Jollity Farm? This ride rotated like a roundabout whilst dipping and cresting. Sorta like riding a seagoing carousel... dizzy-ing, but without the urge to throw up.
None the less, l especially recall the spectacular artwork of African wildlife and Ben Hur doing his thing, on murals surrounding this ride.
Oddly, some of the earlier rides and sideshows were more fun.
"The Rota"? and "The wall of death" stuck people and motorbikes to walls!!
Also memorable, (due to an unfortunate clothing malfunction) was what occured inside the boxing booth one nite.
The deal was that anyone from the crowd was free to challenge one of the booth's stable of pugalists and if he could stay on his feet for 3 rounds, he won a cash prize!
Quote- (History tells us this rarely happened).
I must state at this point that the contestants boxed in the clothing they stood up in, as opposed to the shorts and boots worn by the pro's. Some males wore no underwear in those days so when this particular guy's fly failed, he alternated between boxing and covering that part of his anatomy that kept popping out of his pants. This unfortunate guy continued to protect his head (and dignity) for an agreeably hilarious amount of time before the bout was called off.
In a perfect world, his resilliance in the face of adversity, (plus the entertainment and advertising value) wud have won him the purse, regardless!
Another humerous episode from the earlier days occurred when a Gypsy fortune teller parked his bus in a corner of the park with the intention of sharing his knowledge of the supernatural with anyone curious enough to pay for it.
Stanley however, denied the Romani's request to join the party!.
Maybe it was 'cos Stan had already paid Luton council a shedload of money to turn the park into a quagmire, and the Romani hadn't?
More likely l reckon, was that while the draw of a phychic mite have been welcome in blarney loving Ireland or village fairs, it wud have been too down market for the calculated cash register of Stans electric Wonderland.
The psychic (outraged at Stans inhospitality) reacted by painting "THURSTON WONT LET US ON THE FAIR", down one side of his bus and, "BOYCOTT THE FAIR" down the other, (careful not to intrude on the map of his travels around the British Isles).
As thousands of the Vauxhall's motor workers passed by every day, word soon got around, so the media popped around and took some nice snaps for the front page.
Stanley was obliged to call out the big guns. The cops turned up and the law was laid down.
After a few days had passed and any squatters rights had deadlined, the heat were back again and Mr and Mrs fortune teller (in case they didn't already know) were told that, for them the war was over.
When l came home from school that day, l was sorry to see they'd gone, but not before (as a parting shot) the lady of the house heaved the contents of the bus's chamberpot at the nearest cop.

Added 09 March 2023


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