Is Goose Fair rubbish now?
Goose Fair is rubbish
Local writer Al Needham laments the loss of some of Goose Fair's unique sideshow's including Gordon the Gnome, Mousetown and the Boxing Booth.
Maybe I’m slowly turning into my Nana, but Goose Fair makes me very angry nowadays.
Back in the day, when ‘Gooseh’ was indisputably the best thing ever, there was a perfect balance between rides, standard fairground stuff like peas and hook-a-ducks, and the final part of the Holy Trinity: mad stuff that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
Gordon the Gnome
People like Gordon the Gnome. To my mind, Gordon had the best job ever. He’d just sit there in his gnomey gear on a plastic toadstool, and people would pay 50p to look at him. He’d wave at you for a bit, and then give your Mam some lucky beans to take to the bingo.
He's not there any more.
Scotland's Tallest Man
Next to Gordon, and on the other end of the scale was Scotland's Tallest Man. They used to nail one of his trainers to the side of the tent to show how massive he was, along with a sign that read ‘AS SEEN ON TV’S IT’S A KNOCKOUT – DO NOT BE AFRAID, HE IS A LOVLY (sic) MAN’. Apart from that, his other claim to fame was that he could step over a Mini.
He's not there any more.
The boxing booth was the best thing ever. It was the last touring booth in the country. Normally, when they used to go around the country, it would be 'if you can last three rounds with the big gypsy bloke you'll win a fiver'.
When they came to Notts, however, they learned very quickly that enough people weren’t particularly bothered about the money. They just wanted to have a scrap in front of their mates. You’d get some outstandingly barbaric entertainment for the price of a candy floss.
Boxing Booth action (1982)
That’s not there anymore.
Worst of all, Mousetown has gone. As all Nottinghamians of a certain age will tell you, it was the first thing in the fair that your mam took you to see. To the untrained eye, it was just a load of mice running about in a manky model village.
To us, it was as exciting and important as seeing the sea for the first time at Skeggy, or the first sighting of the massive Xmas TV and Radio Times in the shops in December – the first sign that something you’d been waiting ages for was actually about to happen.
All of these things above have gone for various reasons. Gordon and Scotland’s Tallest Man have presumably nipped off to the Great Forest In The Sky, while all animals have been (admittedly justifying) banned from Gooseh.
What has taken its place? Nothing more than a cheap Alton Towers. A load of big rides and very little else. An annual event that, somewhere along the way, lost its soul.
Loss of heritage
Something needs to be done. The fair has been shorn of its characters. Our children are not being allowed access to people like the Snake Woman from Bombay (who actually came from Bestwood, and saw the vacancy in the Job Centre the week before).
Surely there is a place for her and others in today’s fair (actually, why not move all that stuff back to the Market Square, so we can have a bit of heritage without being clonked on the head by mothers holding aloft pushchairs in a quagmire?)
So yeah, maybe it's a getting-older thing, but I can’t be doing with Goose Fair. I think they should make it proper again or just not bother. And don’t even get me started on the price of the peas…
* Al Needham was nearly killed at Goose Fair when he was 4, after an ill-advised go on Noah's Ark left his Mam clinging onto the hood of his anorak for two minutes in order to prevent him from being catapulted into a nearby pea stall.
last updated: 25/09/2008 at 06:53
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