It's the second Wednesday in October and in fact October 8th the earliest it can be, which only means one thing, Tavistock's annual Goose Fair which has its ancient origins in the traditional Michaelmas Fair of September 29th and eventually shifted to October by the inconveniences of things like Gregorian calender changes circa 1752.
We wax and wane in our enthusiasms for the fair largely because once the children grew up we no longer felt quite so obliged to tramp down to the fairground for Free Rides Night. This is held on the Tuesday evening for all the local children, and does exactly what is says, free rides on all the dodgems, waltzers and other hair-raising escapades...which always felt to me like Let's Check the Nuts and Bolts Are Done Up Properly Before The Big Day.
But the school children will have the day off, the town will be closed to traffic, the main street a mass of stalls and this year we might be in the mood for a wander. The traditions is that we never buy anything at Goose Fair because it always breaks the next day, by which time the stall-holders are long gone, but the atmosphere is bustly and busy and different and I always love to see the Golden Gallopers instead of the buses in the bus station...
Traditionally the fair was the place to sell your geese for Christmas fattening, and for the rest of us to buy them, and one year we did spot one (real) in a car...
So us might go down, on the other hand if 'tis raining streams and dark as pitch us'll just stay at home and sing a verse or two of the song instead. I haven't posted this for a couple of years so I hope you can remember the tune, but pliz do take a moment in your day to heave down your prong and stamp along with us to Goozey Vair, but be mindful of the whacking gurt big stone in verse three....
'Tis just a month come Friday next,
Bill Champernowne and me,
Us went across old Dartymoor
The Goosey Fair to see.
Us made usselves right vitty,
Us shaved and grazed our hair,
And off us goes in our Zunday clothes
Behind Bill's old grey mare.
Us smelt the zage and onion
'Alf a mile from Whitchurch Down,
And didn't us 'ave a blow out
When us put up in the town,
And there us met Ned Hannaford,
Jan Steer and Nicky Square,
I think that all the world must be
At Tavistock Goosey Fair.
And its oh, and where be a-going,
And what be a-doing of there,
Heave down your prong and stamp along,
To Tavistock Goosey Fair.
2. Us went to see the 'osses
And the 'effers and the yaws,
Us went on all them roundabouts
And into all the shows,
And then it started raining
And blowing in our face,
So off us goes down to the Rose
To 'ave a dish of tay.
And then us had a sing song
And the folks kept dropping in,
And what with one an' t'other,
Well, us had a drop of gin,
And what with one an' t'other,
Us didn't seem to care,
Whether us was to Bellever Tor
Or Tavistock Goosey Fair.
3. 'Twere raining streams and dark as pitch
When us trotted 'ome that night,
An' when us got past Merrivale Bridge,
Our mare, 'er took a fright,
Says I to Bill, "Be careful,
You'll 'ave us in them drains,"
Says 'e to me, "Cor bugger," says 'e,
"Why 'aven't you got the reins,"
Just then the mare ran slap against
A whacking gurt big stone,
'Er kicked the trap to flibbits
And 'er trotted off alone,
And when it come to reckoning,
'Tweren't no use standing there,
Us 'ad to traipse 'ome thirteen mile
From Tavistock Goosey Fair.