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At Home With The Falcons pt 2 - A Day At The Fair


By Monkey1
February 8 2005

Fed up with the dull routine of summer at Snitterton Hall, the new home for the Falcons, a group of them have been allowed out by Rob Andrew to spend the day at Morpeth Fair, the annual summer festival at a small market town.

Fed up with the dull routine of summer at Snitterton Hall, the new home for the Falcons, a group of them have been allowed out by Rob Andrew to spend the day at Morpeth Fair, the annual summer festival at a small market town.

The weather looked set for yet another lovely sunny day so they were all dressed in shorts & tee shirts, except for Warren Britz who found the English summer too cold compared to his home in South Africa. He was wrapped up in several layers of winter clothing, including hat, scarf and gloves.

They soon encountered their first problem as they all assembled on the once grand but now overgrown gravel drive at the front of the old house. Rob only allowed them one of the people carriers for the trip, but there were 9 players waiting to go. Epi was the last one to arrive. It had been over 20 minutes since he had breakfast and he needed a little snack before setting off.

“Right then boys”, whispered Hugh, automatically assuming the role of captain “keep your voices down and no arguing about who sits where. If the rest of the boys find out that we’re allowed out for the day they’ll all want to come and Rob will put his foot down”

“Not the one I trod on he won’t.” muttered Epi.

Britz coughed, sneezed and spluttered.

Being the smallest and scruffiest, Joe Shaw and the Gollings climbed into the luggage area. Hugh decided to drive, despite his ball & chain which he dropped into the passenger footwell where Walder rested his feet on it. The rest piled into the back seats and they were off.

After a short trip through winding country lanes, which kept Walder busy chasing the heavy ball as it rolled around by his feet, they turned onto the main road to Morpeth.

As they headed northwards, the sun streamed in through the back windows, warming up the Gollings. The atmosphere became a bit ripe so Noon and Stretch wound down the back windows an inch or so. Then Joe farted loudly for the third time that morning, all hell broke loose as the windows were all wound right down.

Mickey Ward, always on the look out for a bit of fun, leaned back and broke wind extravagantly, laughing himself into a stupor at the ensuing pandemonium. Britz huddled into his quilted jacket, hat & scarf remained a sea of calm, immune to the biological warfare raging around him due to his heavy cold.

Walder sat in the front seat, resting his feet on the now docile ball, gazed out of the window, happy and contented as always.

“Are we nearly there yet?” he asked. 

The road into the town centre was busy with traffic, happy families packed into their cars for a day at the fair. The procession moved forward a few feet, Huge put the people carrier into gear, rattling his chain, and they inched slowly forward again.

“Are we nearly there yet?” asked Walder again.

Even with the fan on full blast and all windows open, the effects of the heat on the Gollings made the atmosphere unbearable. Hugh pulled off the road into a side street & parked.

“Ye cannae pack it ootsayed a hoose on yelly laines mon.” said Stretch.

“And I cannot stay inside this tin can for one more second”, replied Huge, as he began the laborious process of recovering the ball & chain which was tangled all over the gear lever and handbrake. “Anyway, the traffic wardens don’t work on Sundays round here, and who is going to argue with 9 rugby players, one of them armed and dangerous?” as he hefted the heavy ball for the walk into town.

As they crossed the old bridge and turned towards the main street, they were faced with stalls, people, music and noise, and their spirits rose again as they beheld the wondrous spectacle.

Epi was quick to spot a burger van, and set off to do some business, hungry after the short journey.

One of the first stalls they came to was a coconut shy. Walder knows a thing or two about a well aimed shot with a ball, but the crowd gasped with amazement as he executed a perfectly judged drop kick and knocked a coconut flying with his first ball. He hit the full 5 out of 5, the crowd gave an almighty cheer.

Epi caught up with the group eating a burger, the Gollings scratched himself rudely, and they moved on, Walder happily clutching a large teddy bear.

Further along there was a caravan where gypsy Rosie Lee tells fortunes. Britz headed quickly inside, hoping it would be a little warmer than outside. After crossing her palm with 3 quid, she gazed into the crystal ball.

“I see a tall dark stranger.” She began “That’s very strange, the tall dark stranger is on the ground with lots of other men trampling all over him.” She continued.

“Sod ull uv that, wull these pless get uny hotta?”

Britz listened to a few more ramblings about strangers being physically assaulted while arguing over an odd shaped ball, then decided that it was even colder in the caravan and headed back outside.

Epi had made good use of the doughnut stall, Joe broke wind again, and they carried on up the street, Hugh’s chain clinking in time to the music.

They arrived at the hall of mirrors, Stretch and Mickey headed in for a laugh. After a few minutes they came back out looking bemused.

“Al ah culd see was ma feet lukin a but sully” complained Stretch.

“It was crap man, al the mirras med us look layke have got ner neck” grumbled Mickey.

By this time Epi had moved onto candy floss and chips, Britz sneezed, and the Gollings found something interesting in his left ear and decided to dig it out.

At the end of the street was the town square with morris dancing and traditional music, stalls arranged around the outside, and happy families wandering to and fro with ice creams and their proud prizes of goldfish and balloons.

With no food stalls to distract him, Epi noticed a test your strength stall and wandered over. Just as he raised the mallet, one of the morris dancers dressed mainly in white drifted towards Noon. Noon saw the white shape moving quickly towards him and had another flashback to Twickenham. Instinctively he rushed at the figure and landed a low and heavy tackle.

Epi brought down the mallet and the little weight shot up, knocking the brass bell into the air. Rolling away from the tackle, Noon noticed the bell sailing through the air and sprang to his feet to give chase. Pushing through the crowd, knocking over whole family groups in his path, he leaped into the air and caught the bell in textbook fashion.

He made the pass to Walder along the path he had just cleared, Walder dropped his teddy bear and caught the bell, lined up for the drop kick between the 2 tall lighting masts in the town square, and the bell sailed perfectly between the posts, landing on the Womens Institute bric a brac stall where an old dear picked it up and thought it would make a nice fruit bowl.

Hugh viewed the devastation that only a few moments ago had been a tranquil scene of rural festivity, he noticed several policemen moving in, and decided to gather the troops and move them away from the crime scene.

He hustled them around the corner towards the fun fair where he hoped they would soon disappear among the noise and activity. 

Soon they were in the midst of the sea of noise, light and movement of the fun fair, and the helter skelter towered above the other attractions. Epi climbed the steps, finishing the last of his hot dog as he went. The structure creaked and groaned as he neared the top and sat down on the slide. From this height he could see right across the fairground towards the town square where a morris dancer was being helped into an ambulance.

Just before setting off he peered down and was rewarded with a sight that very few have ever seen, the top of Stretch’s head. Epi descended in a slow and dignified manner, the tower moving visibly under the strain.

Mickey Ward was next up. He opted for the more elaborate posture of arms and legs in the air, laughing uncontrollably as he spiralled down.

Joe Shaw went down head first holding a pretend ball precariously in one hand to land another sensational try on the coconut matting.

Last on the helter skelter was Hugh. All would have been well had he retained his hold on the ball & chain, but while adjusting his position on the little mat he lost his grip and the ball accelerated down the slide.

Hugh stared in horror as the ball reached the extent of its chain, by this time approaching 60 miles per hour, then he was hurled down the slope like a sheep in a trebuchet. It is traditional on the helter skelter for the rider to use the horizontal surface of the slide, Hugh was possibly the first person ever to travel along the side. The sound of his fingernails scraping along the steel surface sent every dog within five miles into a frenzy.

At the bottom, the ball smashed through the coconut matting and stuck fast. Hugh followed closely behind, skidding so rapidly across the matting that it smoked, he reached the limit of the chain and was yanked to a halt. This tug upon the chain was just enough to free the ball which rolled off the pile of matting onto the ground, an exhausted Hugh slid slowly in its wake.

The three of them helped Hugh to his feet and looked around for the others. They quickly saw Stretch towering above the crowd near the dodgems, and a cloud of flies at his side seemed to indicate the presence of the Gollings. They headed in that direction.

They were all together again and all decided for a spin in the little dodgem cars. Epi squeezed into a car on his own. Joe and the Gollings shared a car as nobody else relished the idea of close confinement with either of them. Stretch and Hugh decided to share. There was no room for the ball on the floor of the dodgem car so Hugh rested it on his knees. Mickey climbed in as driver with Walder his passenger, still holding onto his teddy bear, and this left Britz and Noonie in the last car.

The power was switched on and Britz immediately trundled over to a corner next to where there was a chip van. He parked and enjoyed the slight heat radiating from the van.

Mickey and Joe were in their most natural element and prepared to do battle. Hugh, still dazed from the helter skelter ride set off on a slow circuit of the floor.

Epi finally managed to find the accelerator pedal and jammed his foot on it. It was then that he realised that he was wedged in so tightly that he could not turn the steering wheel. His unstoppable trajectory took him straight across the floor to collide at full speed into the side of Hugh & Stretch.

Normally this would not be a problem, it is after all the object of the exercise to bump into other dodgems. It is not normal however to carry a heavy metal ball on one's knees when using the dodgems.

The impact dislodged the ball over the side of the little car. The electricity was conducted up through the chain into the normally insulated car. Being jammed together in the seat, Stretch was electrically connected to Hugh, and the circuit was completed as a continuous spark of bright white emerged from Stretch’s head and buzzed into the overhead mesh.

A loud bang and a cloud of smoke from the fuse box indicated the end of the day’s trade for the dodgems. The lights went out and the music faded away. The Falcons emerged from their cars, four of them helping to remove Epi to the sound of splintering wood, and they went in search of more amusement.

They wandered around the fair, occasionally stopping to let Joe and Mickey have a go on the rides. Despite the sparcity of food stalls, Epi did remarkably well to remain well stocked.

The only interesting ride they found was the ghost train. They all bundled in except for Epi who took one look at the tiny seat and decided against it.

The little train trundled into the dark world of animated ghoulish nonsense. The various skeletons and fluttering wraiths provided some amusement, accompanied by a selection of electronic wails, screams and sirens. Britz shivered and huddled even more tightly into his winter coat.

Almost at the end of the ride, a mummy wrapped entirely in white bandages rushed out of the dark. Noon suffered another flashback to Twickenham and instinctively dived out of the seat and tackled the plastic dummy. The fragile mechanical contraption collapsed and pieces of plastic walls and artificial cobwebs crashed to the floor.

There was a considerable commotion as Noonie was bundled back into his seat just as the train emerged back into the sunshine.

They all got out quickly and hurried out of the exit where Epi was tucking into another burger.

“Where’s Hugh?” asked Epi between mouthfuls.

They looked around and there was no sign of him. Even Stretch, who could see for several miles from his lofty height could not see him in the crowd.

“Nae sign ae the bugger, nae een a wusp o’gunger.” Exclaimed Stretch.

They fidgeted nervously, even Britz broke into a sweat at the thought of Hugh making good his escape. Epi threw the rest of his burger into a bin, his appetite gone.

Mickey, normally jolly even under the most adverse conditions was visibly shaken.

“Rob’ll knack wu if ees done a runna.”

They waited around for nearly half an hour, hoping that Hugh would show up. The ghost train operator, having failed to repair the fault that had unexpectedly jammed his little train, had to shut up shop and wandered off to join his friend from the dodgem stall at the pub.

Without their natural leader, they just stood and waited, not knowing what to do. Eventually, Walder decided to break the stony silence.

“Right then lads,” he said “time to face up to it. He’s gone.”

   

Next episode in this gripping drama: The search for Hugh.

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