Friday, December 18, 2009

fun fair

I think I should have taught my class another phrase: "fun fair." Seemingly, this doesn't translate to the US - a temporary assemblage of galloping horses (and cockerels, etc) on a roundabout - or carousel; nasty things that swing one from side to side or up in the air and round again and upside down (seemingly people emerge from these without having fainted away or throwing up, which is a mystery to me); sometimes dodgem cars -i.e. bumper cars; and stalls at which one can shoot air rifles at rows of ducks, or other kinds of effigies, and win - well, it used to be a coconut, and now it's a very large stuffed animal toy. I once won a goldfish (whom I called Hannah, and who moved from Cumberland to London with us, and defied all odds and lived for about four years) through tossing a ping-pong ball into a goldfish bowl.

In other words, it shares stuff with an amusement park - but it travels around - its essence is temporary, and this is the reason for a lot of its mystique. Not that there's much mystique to Leicester Square on a bitterly cold and semi-snowy day, but when the annual fair used to come to Wimbledon Common in the summer for two weeks, it was like an annual disruption of Wimbledon's propriety by crushed grass and candy floss. I particularly liked a roundabout which undulated - with a tilted deck of floor boards - on which one could choose a motorbike to ride, and pretend that one was hurtling down one of the country's new motorways.

I'm throwing in a tourist picture - halfway between the Sixties show at the NPG and walking to catch a #9 bus. If the light had been better on the ground, I'd have taken a shot of a stunningly effective ice sculpture of a polar bear - executed on December 11th by Mark Coreth, with the ice slowly melting, showing the bear's bronze skeleton gradually emerging along with the idea of its imminent extinction. The ice bear is meant to be no more than a puddle, in three day's time...though it's so cold that his icy survival may be a day or two longer.

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