Swings and Roundabouts
Uncle Manny's travelling fair holds some fond memories for Michael.
"Kids love vehicles, we never had one when I was growing up, unless you included bicycles or the ponies my father kept.
My uncle Howard had a motorbike and sidecar - impressive! But even more impressive was my uncle Manny who owned a bus and lived in a caravan.
A bus! His nieces and nephews were drawn to it like magnets. But only I got to see what was inside, in all its glory.
My uncle Manny loved fairs and amusements and had the gypsy in his soul. The bus was his means of transporting his very own carousel and swing boats to local fetes and shows.
One such fete, Govilon, I was probably ten years old. My uncle Manny in charge of the carousel, my father the swing boats. I wanted the luxury of riding the prancing horses of the carousel, but no, I had a job too.
Swing boats require two people to operate. A pull on one rope sends the swing boat in one direction and a pull on a second rope sends it in the opposite direction. The harder you pull, the higher it swings. No idle passive amusement this, you had to work at it.
So if anyone didn't have a partner, I was the second person in the boat.
Back and fore, back and fore, on a hot summer's afternoon with hardly a break and little reward, except for the odd ice lolly or ice cream. And at the end of the day, my head spinning, stomach churning, legs turned to jelly, my father and I trudged the four miles over the mountain back to Blaenavon. No lift in the bus from Manny.
I haven't ridden swing boats since."