The best time to go to the fair is after the carnival. Everyone has had the shared experience of watching the floats go by, throwing pennies, shouting to people they know, talking about the Carnival Queen and the Carnival Princesses, and now they are ready for a good night out. Night is falling and groups of people walk beside the railway arches towards the park. First you see the lights on the sideshows, as kids jostle for one last chance to catch a goldfish, then you smell the oil from the generators as they chug power through the thick electrical wires snaking across the grass. And then – then – you hear counting, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3 then drum beats and finally the harsh sound of Chris Montez singing Let’s Dance. His voice speaks to you of the excitement of the dodgems and the swinging of the waltzers, the smell of the aftershave of the mods, and the sweat of the boys pushing the chairs round, leaning against the posts of the roundabouts, watching and waiting for what will happen next.
The best songs at the fair are rockers’ songs. You wander round the fairground with your best friend, eating a toffee apple, queuing for the Big Wheel and it’s the mournful harmonica before Bruce Channel calls ‘Hey Baby’ that makes you jump on to the Cakewalk and hold on for ten seconds, and then laugh your way up to the candyfloss stand where you hope you’ll meet the person you’ve waited all week to see.