Candyfloss and Hate
Notes from a summer passed

Summer in South London, and today's the annual show, sponsored by the local council and some of its corporate cronies.

The sun's out, and so are all the sons. Pollen's playing havoc, and there is something in the air. Charitable souls shake buckets, but more desperate ones rattle heavy gold chains. St John's Ambulance and the cross of St George, garish face paint and tattoos of the Union Jack, bull necks and bull terriers, the Territorial Army and territorial rights.

The Mayor's party has made it round all the stalls, and heads for the VIP enclosure, between the tea tent and the beer tent, to meet the lost looking Labour MP, re-elected and feeling neglected.

Suddenly from the folk and blues marquee comes the random sounds of tuning up and then the sound of amps being turned up. And before the Mayor and the MP can exchange pleasantries, a seemingly emotionally the worse for wear group of extras from an old episode of Lovejoy launch into a savage, seething rendition of Richard Thompson's 'Down Where The Drunkards Roll'.

Tinker attacks his tabla with venom, while the one that looks like John Peel is hunched over his electrified mandolin like he's searching for the spirit of Sonic Youth gone to waste. The chorus is roared out as if the very oddness of all this defiance can make a difference.

Nearby the ungainly majorettes warm up, the vintage cars are ignored, and a baton is dropped. What time are the clowns on?

© 2003 John Carney