Returning from the fairground with my children, it was all I could do to keep the contents of my stomach where they belong. I’m too old for this.
Like most small towns in the UK, the fairground comes once a year to Castle Douglas. It is one of the smallest I have seen for a long time – it doesn’t even have the dodgems - but I was a little relieved about that. For the last couple of years we’ve been living in a village that didn’t get an annual visit so I’ve been able to avoid fairgrounds. Before that, Rogan and Meg were too small, and the older stepchildren used to go on their own. Consequently it’s been many years since I last had to endure the lights, noise and nausea that accompanies all the fun of the fair. But now, being barely 30 yards from our house, I could no longer use any kind of distance excuse.
In addition, Rogan is now 10, and the idea that he had never really been on a fairground ride scarier than a circling bunch of large plastic ladybirds, when he was 4, did seem to point to the fact that he was missing out on a particular childhood experience. So despite my grumblings that it’s a place to pay large amounts of money just to feel queasy, while enjoying a higher than average chance of getting your pockets picked, not to mention food poisoning if you eat anything, we were soon crossing over to the car park where the fairground had set up. Funfairs are great when you’re a kid, a good place to go with your mates and try and chat up the girls when you’re a teenager, but as an adult I could happily do without them
I took Rogan on the Waltzers. Last time I had been on one of these was in my early twenties, in either a drug or drink fuelled haze, and it had all seemed out of this world and amazing. But these days feeling dizzy to the point of using every available railing, lamp-post or passing person to avoid falling over, seems to have lost its enjoyment. We staggered from the ride and Maggie dutifully took me by the arm and allowed me to stay upright while we wandered over to a set of large revolving teacups that was a ride ideal for Meg.
Although I wasn’t going to let them anywhere near the rat-burgers being fried in axle-grease over at the food trailer, we did think that the children ought to have the experience of candyfloss (or cotton candy, I think it’s known as in the States). For something that is only sugar, colourings that are probably illegal in some countries, and lots of air, it is quite incredible just how much it seems to coat the teeth with a sticky, chemical veneer.
I cannot remember the name of the only other thrill-ride at the fairground – Maggie thinks it’s called the Cyclone - but I had more or less recovered from the Waltzers so I decided to take Rogan on it. This particular ride specialises in throwing your compartment violently from one side of the area to the other, while spinning at the same time. Being on the outside edge meant that I had Rogan slamming into me every 2 seconds as we were hurled back in the opposite direction. I don’t know what the g-forces were, but my internal organs were not designed for that amount of compression while the spinning ensured that I was dizzy beyond belief.
Nauseous doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Even after Meg had been round in a circle on a kiddies train, and had won an inflatable clown-fish I was still feeling considerably the worse for wear. And I really don’t think the couple of mouthfuls of candyfloss did anything to help settle my stomach.
So here I am, feeling tired, grumpy, a bit sick… and very old. Next year when the fair comes to town, Rogan will be 11, which is quite old enough to go with his friends. It’s a strange thing to feel that I have somehow crossed another age barrier: I am now too old to go on the swirly-spinning rides at the fairground and enjoy it. And yet after today, it is something of a relief to think that I’ve been on these rides for the last time.