Forgotten memory of Goose Fair


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The other day for no reason a long ago trip to Goose Fair came into my mind.

It must have been about 1957, I was with my Auntie and I can remember her saying, hold my hand so you don't get lost.

I remember it was dark and of course there were hundreds and hundreds of people milling about so this was a distinct possibility.

I was fascinated by the sights & lights and remember the sound of the noisy generators, the pop music of the day blaring out, the taste of brandy snap, toffee apples and candy floss.

As I was thinking about all of this one particular vision came back and it did haunt me for years....

We were making our way through the crowds and I noticed someone coming towards us wheeling a rather long low black box on wheels, it was almost like an open pram, no an open coffin !

As they got closer I realised that there was a man laid out in the box dressed in a dark suit. They stopped momentarily next to us and I could see that he was looking up at all of the coloured lights twinkling and flashing in the darkness. He did not move but his eyes darted from side to side, half excited and half afraid.

Then for a few seconds he looked at me straight in the eyes and seemed to mouth some words and half lifted a hand, a dribble came from the side of his mouth and I looked away. Just then there was a surge from behind and we moved on into the illuminated, noisy darkness.

I asked my Aunt who the man was and she said he was a poor unfortunate but I didn't ask her what that meant.

Much later as we left and were walking past the cemetery I spotted them again. This time the man was being lifted slowly and painfully out of the box by two people. They positioned him next to the graveyard wall and he leant back mouth gaping, eyes looking up to the night sky. I did not see what happened next as we hurried to cross the road and walk down Mansfield Road. I looked back but could see nothing....

That night in bed I could not sleep and it all kept coming back to me. Why was he in a box? Were they returning his body to his grave after having one last visit to the fair? Why did he look at me? What was he trying to say? Eventually I must have fallen into a troubled sleep.

The following year when asked if I wanted to go to the fair I declined and had some extra pocket money instead.

Anyone else remember seeing this man?

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It's over fifty years since I last went to the Goose Fair, strangely enough it is the smells that bring back the most memories. The exhaust fumes and the oil smells of the generators, toffee appl

Is this what you're looking for, Compo?

Similar memories of being persuaded to go on the parachutes one lunchtime in the very early 70s, Mess. Manning girls were forbidden to enter the fair when in uniform. Four of us went on the parachutes

I remember someone to do with the flea circus used to put something in the 'Lost' column of the Evening Post about losing one of his 'stars', last seen wearing high heels and a fur coat and so on. Anyone seeing the same -------etc.

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#3 No Compo, these people were not students. They looked (apart from the chap in the box) like ordinary people of the period.

Thinking about it again the two people could well have been perhaps "parents" of the (as my Aunt put it) "poor unfortunate"

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A little scary too. The box was like an elongated pram with pram like wheels, no top and the chap was lying horizontal in it.

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I had my first romantic encounter at Goose Fair, came with home with a love bite on me neck, and was told by me Mum that I was a dirty little bugger and just like me Dad.

I can remember seeing a tall policeman at Goose Fair, was told by me dad that it was PC Baker and that he was almost 7 foot tall and well known in Nottingham.

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I remember going on the Waltzers with the girls in our group because they were so terrified they would cling to us.

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Any chance it could have been a bad childhood dream? I had one particularly bad nightmare at around 7/10yrs: in it, I raised from my bed and transported across the houses, landing in someones garden. Pitch Black. I remember the bump as I landed and laid there terrified to open my eyes for what seemed like an hour. I eventially opened my eyes and I was in bed! Now 60yrs later, and I can still remember every detail! Only a suggestion, What ever it was, it sounds awful, and understandably unforgettable.

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I can remember seeing a tall policeman at Goose Fair, was told by me dad that it was PC Baker and that he was almost 7 foot tall and well known in Nottingham.

I think you may find a picture of Pc.Baker on this site, taken with Mohammed 'Cassius Clay' Ali

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I can remember the first time I saw Goose Fair, probly 15 years old, went on my own on the bus, God knows how I found the way there and back! Went in at one end and transported by the crowd all the way across till I got spilled out at the other end! Never got to spend a penny, couldn't get near the stalls. BUT something that puzzled me at the time was the sight in a nearby side street through a bay window. There was a room very badly lit in red light and a woman standing combing her hair at the mirror, just could not understand why anyone should want a room lit like that or even see to comb their hair. What was it all about? down there in Hyson Green?

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TheTramp - #12.....Perhaps she was about to go out on the street at night and the red light would be beneficial to her night vision? slywink

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I can remember the first time I saw Goose Fair, probly 15 years old, went on my own on the bus, God knows how I found the way there and back! Went in at one end and transported by the crowd all the way across till I got spilled out at the other end! Never got to spend a penny, couldn't get near the stalls. BUT something that puzzled me at the time was the sight in a nearby side street through a bay window. There was a room very badly lit in red light and a woman standing combing her hair at the mirror, just could not understand why anyone should want a room lit like that or even see to comb their hair. What was it all about? down there in Hyson Green?

It is the Red Light area............

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#1

He probably was a disabled person being taken out by his family, things were different back then in the 1950's people would use any sort of transport - pram, barrow, cart, etc. back then to get them around as most families were poor - as a child looking at someone like this, it would be frightening especially in a crowded place at night time...

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remember going to Goose Fair with mam dad and sister olive, i was about 7 years old, dad bought us all a hot dog type thing, i ended doubled up wih pain in stomach, never had Hot Dog since, Back then everything was magical, Goose Fair sunday we would walk down to Nuthall Road to watch all the Lorries with rides on them waiting to go on the Forest,

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I must have got up too late then. The only time I went, cycling there from Trent Bridge in the freezing cold, all I found was a single tanner. :(

Back to the original post though, Smiffy, the plausible explantion was the man was mentally and/or physically disabled and was being carried in some form of adapted transport. Perhaps he was being bought out for the visual stimulation of the lights and activity, for therapeutic reasons. The fact that your aunty described the man as a 'poor unfortunate' and was not fazed by this, together with the fact that this was in public view, would suggest nothing sinister was afoot. Children see the unfamiliar in a different perspective.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Crikey, Smiffy49, no wonder this etched itself on your mind, it would have me, too. What obviously made it seem particularly sinister was the juxtaposition between the bright lights, the loud music and people laughing, screaming and enjoying themselves while this 'poor unfortunate', possibly a quadriplegic, was confined to his mobile 'coffin'.

It would only have been made worse by seeing him with the same accompanying party again in the grave yard. What terrible secret did they carry, what frightful thing had happened to the family to make them go through this seemingly tragic ritual?

Did the poor man suffer a terrible accident or illness earlier in life or was he born that way?

Whatever, his family must have been very loving, dedicated and loyal towards the poor soul.

Then the very fact that he made eye contact with you...

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Used to love the Boxing ones, £5 if you lasted 3 rounds with one of their boxers,not many did.........Also once went to see the girls doing dance of the 7 veils' and got a shock to see one of em was my 16 yr old cousin,.............its still our secret,and have a laugh with her about it when we meet.lol.

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  • 3 weeks later...

There were some things that you always had to have at Goose Fair - a little dish of mushy peas with mint sauce, brandysnaps, Grantham gingerbread, candy floss, a cock on a stick. I often make mushy peas and have mint sauce on them.

Remember the smell of the Fair?

I never went on the helter skelter. I liked the cakewalk and that big boat thing that used to swing up high and you had to hang on to a sort of rope ladder. The coconut shy was rigged! Ping pong balls to catch a goldfish. Punch and Judy.

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As a young boy our local hero was a boxer. Think his name was Johnny Carrington. He used to train on the streets where I lived and I sometimes ran along with him for a short distance. On one of these runs just before Goose fair arrived I asked him if he was boxing there. He said "No, they won't let me cos I take their money". His regular run was down Southey St., Lake St., then up Peveril St.

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