Thursday, May 8, 2008

Misrule (Updated)

"It's a three day visit by the Lord of Misrule", someone who should know tells me. "All bets are off.".

He's talking about the May Fair, which has just ended. Apparently a fair has been held here in one form or another since 1100-and-something, and it almost certainly originated as a pagan celebration that the church was canny enough to take under its wing.

These days though it's nothing more than a gigantic funfair. Now I'm used to such things in allocated, contained areas - parks, fields, open spaces, whatever - generally out of town and well away from the real world of offices and public buildings. But the fair rolls into the centre of our town and just takes it over.

The main streets are closed to traffic: big wheels and dodgems, roundabouts and burger bars, candy floss and helter-skelters - often strung out the length of a road in a long narrow line - replace the usual cars. Locals grumble about the consequent traffic jams and dearth of parking spaces and even on the outskirts you hear the distant thump-thump of the music. Squeezing past the hordes of parents and excited children, the groups of teenagers, you go about your business on the way to work or shop, step over unnervingly large electricity cables and enjoy the crackling energy and excitement of it all. But there's also a jittery nervousness in the air and the noise can be deafening.

The rides start around lunchtime so the early morning is relatively peaceful. The sacred provides a backdrop to the secular.

By mid afternoon the crowds arrive and the action will continue well into the night, when things really warm up. People travel here for miles, from way across country.

"Look at the faces", says my local friend.

Rides soar above the throng of pedestrians, dwarfing the cathedral skyline ...

... just yards away from banks, solicitors offices and GPs' surgeries. Heaven knows how all this is squared with current Health & Safety legislation.

In my own life during these three days there were two unexpected events - one tantalisingly agreeable, the second less so. Upheaval and catharsis.

Maybe it's easier if you work with Misrule, or Chaos, when he comes to visit. He's not necessarily an enemy.


Although I didn't like it for writing purposes, I've a smidgin of nostalgia for the template of my previous blog which allowed larger photographs. It's really, really worth clicking the photos to enlarge.


Update: More photos of the fair on Flickr.


Dale said...

Wow. Wonderful photos. I love the orange underside of the carousel one.

Anonymous said...

What Dale said. I loved the reference to dodgems. It took a minute for me to recall the American phrase, as the British word catapulted me back to the past. Also it's true that it's well worth while enlarging the pictures. I saw the solicitor's sign in the picture where the two people look as though they could be ejected from that crazy machine and fall to their death at any instance -- to the tune of millions of pounds in liability suits!

leslee said...

Great shots, mm! That carousel is beautiful - looks ancient. I love the carnival rides against the spires of the old cathedral.

The last time I went on one of those spinning rides was probably 10 years ago when I was dating a guy with kids. It was the *last* time - I wonder at what exact point spinning becomes so nauseating!

leslee said...

tarakuanyin - We call them dodgems here in the Boston area in the US. But also bumper cars.

mm said...

Thank everyone. I'm pleased I took my camera to work on Tuesday!

The carousel was wonderful. Really beautifully painted and carved horses. I'm slightly regretful that I didn't toss reserve to the wind and take a spin on it. Next year perhaps. I was even tempted by some of the more hair-raising rides but my courage failed.

I was going to ask what the American English for dodgems was. Thanks Leslee!

mm said...

Tarakuanyin: Re the solicitor's sign, just off to the right of that shot is a sign pointing to a doctor's surgery. I tried to get it into the picture but without success!

MB said...

These are marvelous photos! Pretty surreal! I particularly enjoyed the horse against the arch one and the one of the ride against the cathedral.

Sky said...

these photographs are magnificent! i love the one with the cathedral as a backdrop - just lovely in juxtaposition. until recently seattle had a "christmas" carousel which i loved to ride. hubby would even climb aboard with me, and we became children once again. carousels make me nostalgic for our state fairs and the boardwalks on our atlantic beaches.

mm said...

MB: The whole experience was slightly surreal :-).

Sky: Next year I've promised myself I'll take a ride on the carrousel ...

winterwood said...

Looks like a perfect spring day from the blue sky! last year the day was overcast and it rained for most of the day where I was in the Uk and the local fair was poorly patronised due to the weather. Glad to see that this year the sun was out!