Bungay May Fair 1977

Jubilee Bungay May Fair 77

 

The second and final revived Bungay Fair. A third would probably have been a success too far. The combination - travellers and showmen, the Barsham 'hippie types', the locals, that was an energetic brew. There were stress lines galore for the fair makers to juggle as never before. Then you had the layout. With a race track in the centre of the field the normal structure was impossible. The varied centres of activity and the movement of people betwixt and between them, that allowed for multiple possibilities. The flow round the outside of the racetrack reduced those possibilities and stretched the site out enormously. Meanwhile, the emotional stresses mythologised by Neal Oram, towards the end of The Warp, were happening near the centre of the organisational scene. It was all quite strange.

 

SSa 003 BU77
The week after the fair John Peel gave us his opinion, in a column in Sounds, a weekly music paper of the time:
NOW HERE'S an interesting one. Cherry Spottiswood of Buxton has written to say (Omigod, Cherry!): "Each and every night I lie sleepless and tormented in my lonely bed, your photograph and a lock of your hair clasped tightly between ...' - well perhaps we'd better skip that bit (although I'd be grateful for the lock of hair back). Let's see - "Can you tell me, you vision, you Adonis, whatever became of the so-called 'Beautiful People' of the late 1960's and early 1970's?"

"Yes Cherry, I believe I can. I was, all joshing aside, always slightly intimidated by the Beautiful People. For a start, I suspected that I was rather too fat to qualify as a Beautiful Person myself, and I always looked like fairground facsimile of an Eastern potentate when I dresses in velvet and festooned myself with beads.

Spiritually I was right there with them though. I longed to travel to Ranjipore (or wherever it was they all travelled to) and lie for weeks on rich carpets and amid Nepalese cushions get smashed out of my mind. Unfortunately I had to earn a living instead.

I also hoped that when the time came I would have the nerve to call our offspring Canute or Iphgenia or "Second Thoughts" or Tolkien or Hiawatha. At the same time I had a mental picture of the luckless little brute having to announce himself on his first day at school, and my resolve melted away and he turned out is be called William Instead. I think he will be grateful for that.

I had assumed that the Beautiful People had been absorbed into society, had become accountants and mothers-of-two, provincial art masters and dentists receptionists. But I discovered only yesterday that they have survived - and as Beautiful People too - in remote rural areas. With a gang of village layabouts and our district minibus I crossed down (or up) to a charming spot called Mettingham Castle, a tumbledown er ... castle in the badlands of the Norfolk - Suffolk border for the Bungay Jubilee May Horse Fair. And there the buggers were. Hundreds of em. A veritable sea of velvet.

Those from the wealthier homes were on horseback, shouting interesting and instructive things between one another for the benefit of passers-by, bumping their meddlesome nags into the grateful peasantry; while their fortunate brethren sold us hideous leather goods, monstrously ugly works-of-art and scruffy dresses.

I had never noticed before how essentially middle class these radiant folk are, either. In the most sublimely cultured tones they explained that, no, there were no toilets, called for their children (these latter mainly blessed with Arthurian names, dressed in gypsy-chic and deserving a sharp boot in the arse) and trying to persuade potential customers of the physical and moral benefits of drinking coffee made from hedge clippings. They sat around fires, alongside beautiful Romany caravans, strummed out of tune guitars, and tapped incessantly on "hand crafted" "Indian drums", with a sharp disregard for tempo which was doubtless the result of remarkable inner cleanliness.

The Pig, bless her, who, since a whole catalogue of unfavourable experiences with Beautiful Persons around the turn of the decade, has little time for the university trained peasant surrogate, grew very restless very quickly; an hour later we were back on the road in search of more Plebeian amusements. I hope that answers your question, Cherry."

Barsham Faire 1976

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Eye Show 1977

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