At Hambleton Fair


The gate swung open on the stench of dodgems, candy floss and fear,
Of churned-up earth and baked potatoes, burning oil, stale beer,
And pipe tobacco. Pistons shunted, barrels wheezed their foreign dirge,
And brightly painted engines pounded, scrawling smoke stacks from the verge.
Whilst, in their cardboard tents and waistcoats, Romanys with oiled hair
Caught passers by on barb-wire words, then reeled them in to flog their wares –
Cards and darts, and chained air rifles, crooked no-win hoopla stalls
With rubber rings that didn’t fit the fattened jam-jar necks at all.
Swarthy men who stank of Mandate, trying to lure their victims in
For plastic bags of starving goldfish, knowing that they’d never win.
And as the purple veil of evening draped around the field’s edge,
By screaming waltzers girls in too much makeup lined the blazing hedge
To make their dates with crass young men of wild romance and destiny,
Who’d vanish come the break of dawn, and leave them full of STDs.

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