As I grow older I find that small things suddenly evoke memories of yesteryear which I had not thought of for many years. Today, with the falling leaves and cooling weather, I was reminded of when I was a child in Nottingham. The start of Autumn was signalled by the arrival of the Goose Fair.

This was an annual event as eagerly anticipated as any of the major festivals which governed our calendars. It was open for three days on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday in October.

The Fairground people would start arriving the previous Sunday, in their large colourful wagons and, as if by magic, the wonderful attractions would start to appear, the twin helter skelters, the big wheel, round-abouts, swingboats, dodgems, hoop-la stalls, rifle ranges etc. Around the periphery were kiosks which would sell candy floss, cockles and whelks, toffee apples and that peculiarly Nottingham delicacy, mushy peas with vinegar or mint sauce!

Many of the local shops would sell Grantham gingerbreads and brandy snaps, which I believe people used to buy as fairings.

At noon on Thursday the fair was opened by the Lord Mayor, who concluded his brief address by ringing a bell, whereupon all the rides started up and the fun and the music began.

Friday afternoon was a holiday for school children, who thronged to the fair clutching their carefully hoarded pocket money. Their place was taken in the evenings by large groups of young people, many of them made up of workmates straight from work.

Saturday afternoon was family time when Dads took the smaller children on the rides and Mothers slid off to have their fortunes told by one of the many clairvoyants. Happy groups were seen wending their way home laden with fairings, gawdy prizes and coconuts.Then in the evening the sweethearts took their place. It was all very goodnatured and I don’t remember any serious problems. The fair closed at midnight and, immediately after the last ride, they started dismantling the attractions and by Monday the whole site was cleared, almost as though they had never been there. There was one last treat for we children when we scoured the site for the odd coins which had been dropped by the happy go lucky fairgoers!

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