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Ravenglass Charter Fair

June 2008
If your gob has a full set of false teeth, learn to smile with your mouth closed.
A Fair, an Audience
The 800th anniversary of the granting of a town charter to Ravenglass: marquees casting shadows over groups of people selling pots and jams and second-hand books. And in the main street, entertainment; Morris-dancers, step and clog dancers, a brass band and street entertainers.
The visitors with grey beards and their wives liked the street entertainers. They laughed, or more precisely they lowered the bottom half of their mouth and raised the top to reveal a fluorescing array of unlikely-looking dentures, all neat and white and with a stuck-on look.
Street Entertainers
The street entertainers were very proficient. Two men who did tricks, like juggling three knives while balancing on an eight-foot-high unicycle. That's very clever. And putting a household rubber glove over your head, down as far as beyond your nose, so you can blow out though your nose and the rubber glove inflates. It inflates and inflates and inflates until at some point when it looks like it might burst you quickly push it upwards with your hands and it flies way up into the air as the air inside it escapes. That's original. And an escapology trick, escaping from a linen sack after having had the hands padlocked together.
The teeth in the audience glowed in appreciation.
Fookin Whackem
But I was uncomfortable watching the Morris-dancers and step-dancers, I wanted to choreograph them, I wanted to say to them, throw yourself into it, good people, with all your being, and when you whack them sticks together, don't flinch and blink, fookin whackem. But I didn't say that as currently it's none of my business; one day, perhaps, when I’m retired and have time to take up Morris dancing.
If You’re Going to Wear a Hat
There was also a brass band, the Egremont town band. It's very good that Egremeont has a town band, it's good that any town has a brass band, not least Egremont, but I wanted to say to the conductor, yes, I know it's a sunny day, but if your band members are going to wear a hat, let it be a corporate hat – that motley collection of flat caps and upturned linen flowerpots of different shades of pale just looks sloppy, looks not a million miles divorced from the handkerchief on the head, knotted at the corners.
And what I’d like to know is: those street entertainers, who put so much time and emotional effort into their act and presentation, and probably get paid an hourly rate that’s barely worth contemplating, and possibly work as tax inspectors or bank clerks during the week; what do they do it for? Why? That’s the question on my partly-closed and suitably relaxed lips, as I watch the lips of the rest of the audience part to reveal a fluorescent and unlikely-looking grin.


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