It’s Mop Fair time in Stratford, and as ever the streets are alive with rides, sweets, screams and bass – and visitors who look increasingly young. It’s bittersweet, as I’m currently packing up my flat, but is fun as ever.
I’ve been visiting for ten years, on and off, and at first I used to go down at lunchtimes and ride the exciting bits by myself. But in the last few years it’s only fun if experienced with other people. So this year my dance partner came down, and we hit pretty much everything. Including the centrifuge, in which you stand against a rotating drum, which speeds up until you’re plastered against the wall like that bit in Hot Shots1, at which the point the floor drops away. I like that one. There was also the most intense waltzer I’ve ever experienced (the woman next to us kept apologising for swearing), the least frightening ghost train in the world (there was green and red paint on the walls, and that was it), and a carousel (on which I was able to ride a giant chicken).
I also won (well, paid £2.50 for – this may seem a lot, but bear in mind I also got to grab a duck with a pole) a monkey who lives in a banana, which I do not understand. Is the banana eating him? Is it a banana sleeping bag? Anyway, his name is Mondeo.
But the highlight of my evening was that after after years of wussing out, I finally held my nerve and took a picture from the highest ride in town. It’s a long arm – seven or eight stories, I’d guess – that spins around a point and has four swinging chairs at each end. If you get lucky they’ll strap you into your chair and spin you up to the top while they load the next batch, so you get a lovely view of the fairground and the town at night. I got lucky, so, clutching my iPhone very, very hard, I took this:
Pleased with that. Slightly blurred, but it’ll do.
It’s a nice bookend to my time in Stratford, though I’m more melancholy than I expected. Technically I’m only renting out my flat, and I’m consoling myself that I can come back. But you can’t go home again. I’m very excited about my new place in London, and I’m sure it’ll be great, but I know nothing will ever feel quite like this – different and equally nice, I’m sure, but never quite the same. It’s time to move on, though. Things to do.
- possibly Part Deux [↩]