Black Friday: Cider with the Carnies

Traditions are not timeless, but typically mark the seasons with metronome regularity. In our relatively brief lives, we celebrate many that have evolved from ancient practice along with those that define the culture of our times. Regardless of whether we choose to participate or hate, Black Friday is one example of a developing tradition born of the late autumn season and commercial advance towards Christmas. Holidays are comin’ folks. Other, deeper, traditions are being reinvented for our times.

The annual Victorian Fayre in Worcester draws visitors from across the Isle. This is most evident to the ear as the background drone of wandering voices momentarily resolve into snapshots of conversation. Rather like a lucky dip, chance determines the accent heard: Black Country, Birmingham, South Wales, West Country…and more. The Fayre seems magical, immersive and loaded with temptation. Food stalls billowing smoke and steam seem perfectly matched next to Hipsters hawking Steam Punk memorabilia. All punctuated by shouts from stall holders and ride operators urging passers by to part with cash for exotic crafts or two minutes experiencing dizzying g-force.

The City seems built for this and to some extent it is. The jettied buildings with their recessed streetscapes  provide perfect spaces to tuck away a stall. Piggy alleys lace between streets planned during the medieval period, their sinuous ways offering quick transit across the otherwise clogged City.  The Cornmarket in Worcester, as the place-name betrays, has a history deeper than the pay-and-display car park that dominates the space…not today though. Today it dazzles with a thousand coloured lights, the fug of diesel generator smoke and 4/4 thump of House music accompanying the squeals of those who have parted with coins to be spun around in giant teacups.

The Fayre is, perhaps, best experienced as a place to wander without purpose. I find myself a tourist in my home City, people watching, allowing myself to be swept along or pausing to listen. This is timeless. Emotionally, it feels connected to every fayre, festival and market there ever was and will ever be.



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