A Letter from Desmond Fairybreath

Desmond Fairybreath by day


I must confess to having somewhat blurred recollections of the Great Albionic Shin-digs, and I would certainly find it hard to pin my rampant mind down to Specifics. Generally benevolent memories, I suppose, of being on the whole permanently sozzled, of much staggering-around, of fallings-about and much trippings-up-over-the-tent-stays in the wee hours... and, of course, of emitting thoroughly splendid renditions of my magnificent poems, enacted with all my customary panache and inimitable professionalism.

I suppose that Dorothy and I have done the rounds of a great many over the years - for us a form of pleasant light-relief from the endless circuit of deeply serious and intensely high-powered Poetry Readings with all the other Greats. Dorothy herself always insists on staying at the local Hilton along with the more up-market pop and theatre groups. here she claims to indulge in wild all-night hob-nobbings with the resplendent transient stars of the Alternative (although her tip-top soap-scented and positively glossy condition when she barges into my bivouac at 8 sharp suggests a more cosy B&B type night). Never mind.


I, on the other hand, have, over the years, managed to enveigle, from Her Ladyship, permission to camp overnight `ON SITE' on the pretext of giving very late night readings which I very rarely have to fulfill, as everything is always running several hours late. So I stay on and get myself thoroughly involved in everything in a very big way in a certain Tent - whose atmosphere I find particularly inspiring. Although I often end up saying the wrong thing somewhere along the line, thus offending some perfectly harmless sort, and am forever finding myself becoming bosom buddies with people I never know from Adam the following day, I do, on the whole, behave very respectably.

The difficulty with the fairs is actually doing what you're being paid to be there for. This statement could possibly enrage some of the keen holidaying Accountants that come and put on their Mummer's Plays ten times in an afternoon for petrol expenses only, but what I really mean by it is that Organisers will go putting all sorts of temptations in one's path. There's almost certainly going to be some floundering old bore to keep you pinned down to the beer-tent bar all lunch-time and when he finally staggers off there'll only be another bugger to take his place.

And Dorothy simply loves the beer-tent for all the pressing and pushing that goes on, and the resulting physicality; the strong wild-looking men, bare-chested and moist with the heat of the summer; the site-crew dashing to and fro, bristling biceptually, mending leaks; she waxes lyrical about the variegated hair-colourings, the nose-rings, the exotic grassy-scented breath of male men who touch not meat and live in the hills bartering with dwellers from the neighbouring vales. She, not being accustomed to the Real Ale (as it is so optimistically called), gets much more tiddled than she does at home on the Emva Cream and has been known to turn quite nasty when we finally lurch forth onto whatever stage we've been allocated - especially if there's anyone out there playing silly-buggers. As for the children (of which there seems always to be a phenomenal, almost Third World abundance) she doesn't see eye to eye with them at all. I've seen her pour an entire bag of Plaster of Paris over one repellant little squirt who was mimicking her every word like a bloody parrot and thinking he was jolly funny with it. Nice thing is, though, it's not a bit like the village fetes and Agricultural Shows she's always dragging me along to: you won't get an irate Dad with a bone to pick and huge arms to do it with. At these do's Dad is generally holding a knitting class in a nearby tee-pee.

All the serious creative, life-enhancing discourse me and my hangers-on hold over the interminable conveyor-belt of plastic glassfuls can, and does, take its toll and I've often suffered the consequences. These consequences are made a great deal more troublesome by the very strange lavatories, which I would rather not go into.

Desmond Fairybreath by candlelightFood. One does tend to eat sometimes. Being in the VIP bracket We in the Show-biz side of Fair Life are naturally provided with vast slap-up dinners consisting of several courses and knives and forks, so I haven't sampled much in the way of the `alternative' concoctions dreamed up by the Others. Though apparently healthy, these odd foods tend to put a peculiar windiness into the sails of many bowels, which no doubt is healthy, but does lend an often suffocating marsh-gas-like scent to the air, particularly when the night is still and a vast conglomerate is watching the Act of the Night. Mind you, I'm not entirely blameless on this front, as I do my utmost to make a more subtle blend in my immediate vicinity - which I consider a very community-spirited sort of thing to do.

Dogs I adore and would very much like to be one myself. These form themselves into closely-knit working parties over a given weekend and lend an element of team-spirit to the important business of going about being a bloody nuisance. Occasionally individuals of the canine fraternity can be persuaded to do the show with you. They vastly enhance the quality of any twaddle you might be trying to do. I have, personally worked quite extensively with two very adept hounds of this sort, and though I've assiduously avoided any form of cheap name-dropping up till now. I must say that, apart from Dorothy, Sam and Lady do deserve a mention in this book.

Having covered the more salient aspects in my experience of Fairs, there's not much more to add, apart from ' Jolly Good Show' and 'Long may they thrive'.