Saturday, 26 April 2008

The Henley Royal Regatta Fair.


The Henley Royal Regatta Fair.

When you’re a youngster, the fair is a magical, mystical wonderland.
(At least it was for us in the 50’s and 60’s.)

The problem was though, that money was very scarce in most working-class
families back then. But the lure of the fair was SO powerful it just
couldn’t be resisted.

At the Royal Henley Regatta, in the 50’s and 60’s the fair used to be
almost directly behind the ‘Finish Line’ of the boat races, in the field
that they now use as the ‘hospitality’ area.

Between races the fair would get ‘swamped’ with the ‘Hooray’s’ who would
push, shove and bully their way onto the rides so that we mere mortals could
hardly get a look in.

Now….as a kid of 8 or 9 I was pretty resourceful. I would walk the three
mile to Henley so that I could be at the fair for early afternoon. The most
popular ride for the Hooray’s was the bumper cars (of course), they ran
amok every time each session stopped, hogging the cars for themselves
each time.

I could see the ‘respectable’ folk looking totally dismayed and frustrated
that they couldn’t get a look in.
Seeing this, I realised that being quite small, tough and hardy, I’d get to
at least One of the cars before the marauders. This I’d do, (most times).
Then I’d catch the eye of someone who’d missed out and beckon them over.
I’d get out letting them take the car, telling them I’d saved it especially
for them.
The look of gratitude on their faces said all I needed to know then.
While the ride ran it’s course, I’d stand on the edge making sure I’d make
eye contact now and again, with a little smile as they got ‘shunted’.

Now I’m not saying that I had a 100% conversion rate, but most of those I
saved a car for would come to me afterwards and thank me, saying they’d had
a great time etc. But more to the point. The people who visited the
Royal Henley Regatta then, were generally pretty well off. I would usually
get a couple of pennies, threepenny-joey, or a tanner handed to me for my consideration.

Occasionally I’d catch the eye of a single rider, and then more often than
not, they’d invite me along for the ride. (No cost of course). So my wily
little plan got me the best of both worlds, and due to the 'greed' and 'slovenliness' of the ‘Hooray’s’, I was able to repeat my little ruse
on other rides at the fair as well.

Did I used to enjoy Henley Royal Regatta week? You bet I did. For several
years on the trot, until they moved the fair OUT of the regatta grounds.

The Hooray’s and the well-off didn’t fancy the long trek to the fair, so it
was left to those with just enough for themselves.

Yep...US....The working class.

Ahhhh…..Those were the days…………


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