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This is a question Fairgrounds, theme parks, circuses and carnivals

Tell us about the time the fairground came to town and you were sick in a hedge; or when you went to a theme park or circus and were sick in a hedge

Suggested by mariam67

(, Thu 9 Jun 2011, 11:37)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

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Woburn Wild Animal Kingdom
My first job after leaving school in 1986 was on the Sky Ride at Woburn Park, and even though the wages were awful, I fucking loved it. I did my stints on all the rides in the park; the crap kiddies roundabouts (known, inexplicably as the “Dobbies”), the Ghost Train, the Rainbow Ride (the one big decent fairground thrill ride in the park, and responsible for at least 3 deaths), the Carousel (a genuine Victorian wooden, hand painted affair with a player organ driven by reams of thick punched card, it was one of only a few left in the world), the boats and the train, but it was the Sky Ride that I worked on most of the time.

The Sky Ride was a mile long cable car ride through the beautiful Woburn woods and over Drakelow Lake. In the old days, the lake had gorillas on an island, and tropical birds on another island (called, imaginatively, Gorilla Island and Bird Island respectively) and you could get off the Sky Ride at the lake end and take a pleasure boat around the lake. One particularly bad winter, the lake froze over, and the gorillas simply walked to freedom. One of them was captured walking along Woburn High Street. By the time I worked there, the birds, gorillas and pleasure boat were long gone, and the Sky Ride was a round trip only, with the customers, known by all staff as ‘punters’, not allowed to get off at the lake end anymore. (Unless they were attractive young ladies, in which case it was positively encouraged, but rarely achieved!)

Working at the lake end of the Sky Ride was referred to as being “down Drakelow” and it was by far the best place to work. There would always be two people working down Drakelow, and the time could really drag if you were working with someone boring, but most of the time I was working with my mates and it was just one long laugh. We regarded the punters as our personal playthings, there simply to provide us with entertainment. The cabs came through the station at intervals of between 20 seconds and 1 minute, depending on how busy we were. That’s a lot of people to fuck with during an 8 hour day!

Here are some of the things we would get up to:

The cigarette scrounge

This was common practice throughout the park, but Drakelow was by far the best place to get away with it. Most of us were smokers, so we used to have competitions for who could scrounge the most fags during a day. Basically, if a punter was smoking in the cab when they came through Drakelow, the cab monkey would say “‘scuse me mate, I couldn’t pinch a smoke off you could I? Only I forgot to go to the shop this morning, and we’re not allowed to leave site during the day”. This would work almost every time, and you could go home at the end of the day with 40 or 60 cigarettes in your pocket. Occasionally you’d get caught out when a punter went on the ride twice, but you could usually just make a joke out of it. Sometimes someone would take pity on you and give you half their packet. Occasionally you’d get really lucky and get someone who was smoking a joint.

The fake fight

This was a regular one, and we got really good at it after a while. I would be pulling the cab round and my mate would be waiting just around the corner. As I came round, I would let go of the cab, walk over to my mate and smack him one in the face. This was of course a stage punch. He would raise his hand to defend himself and at the last second we both opened our hands and my palm struck his making a loud smacking sound. He would then spin round and fall to the floor, apparently out cold. I would grab the cab again and carry on pulling it round as if nothing had happened. This produced a variety of responses from the punters, some would ask me why I did that, to which I would just shrug and reply “he’s been getting on my tits all day”. Most would just nervously look at one another and go quiet.

The fake accident

This was a favourite of mine and I did it all the time. As the cabs left the station, they would rise sharply up to the first tower. Just outside the end of the station was a small grass area. I would amble about on this grass area, idly kicking a ball about or something, and as the cab left the station I would be standing in just the right spot so it would just clear my head, at which point I would smack the bottom of the cab with my fist, and drop to the ground like a sack of shit. The punters would just hear the thud, and then see me lying motionless on the grass. I would remain there until the cab went over the hill and out of sight. Sometimes the punters would come round again and ask if I was alright “yeah, but I got a banging headache now”. One chap said to me “you don’t learn, do you boy”, “I’m sorry?” I replied. “We came on here a couple of months ago and you got hit by our cab then too”! Oops.

Stop/start or walking down

This was our way of dealing with rude or aggressive punters, old school friends who were visiting the park or anyone else who we thought deserved it, and it was really fucking dangerous. Stop/start, as you might imagine, involved rapidly stopping and restarting the ride. After a few times, this would set up some major oscillations in the wire rope, causing the cabs to bounce about like fuck. Utterly terrifying if you were in one of them at the time and stupidly dangerous when you consider that the wire rope only went over rollers on top of the towers – it wasn’t actually held on with anything. Walking down was similar, but only affected the one cab. Basically, the cabs were released from a trap, and rolled down a ramp onto the rope at which point cab and rope were travelling at the same speed. The weight of the cab would then cause a clamp to close over the rope, and away you go. Walking down was where you held onto the back of the cab when it was released from the trap, and walked it down the ramp making it much slower than the moving rope. The moment the clamp gripped onto the rope, the cab would suddenly and violently lurch forwards and would be swinging wildly for several frightening minutes of its journey. It still amazes me that these practices didn’t result in a major catastrophe.

The pissy bonfire

We would often build bonfires outside the station. Then we would spend all day drinking Happy Shopper lemonade and peeing into a mop bucket. When the bucket was full and the wind just right, over the fire it would go, the resulting cloud of foul-smelling piss-steam billowing up and over the unlucky punters on the ride. Have you ever pissed on a fire? If you have, you’ll know that it’s one of the most unpleasant smells known to man. This one drew a number of complaints.

Which brings me onto the subject of complaint letters. I’ve still got some of the good ones, including the one about the staff member (me) riding his motorbike, without a helmet, through the rhino section of the safari park. This was one of the few that I actually got into trouble about, mainly because the complaint went to the safari park, who were different management to us on the amusement park. You see, our ‘management’ were, basically, a family of pikeys. Very nice and very funny people but pikeys none the less. They didn’t give a fuck. Complaints were seen as badges of honour. My boss would read them out in the staff room in the morning, all the while pissing himself laughing.

““And then the staff member ran onto the jetty and pushed my son into the boating lake““ (pauses while everyone laughs) “no listen to this bit, listen “and some of the lake water went into his mouth and he was sick and bilious in the car on the way home”“. Boss and entire staff collapse in hysterics. Eventually, when everyone recovers “seriously now, don’t push the punters in the lake”

There’s one other story I want to include. As I lived in Woburn, my journey to work in the morning involved climbing over the wall behind Drakelow station and getting a cable car up to the other end. There was no phone installed in the Sky Ride, and this was long before mobiles, so the only means of communication between the two ends of the ride was with an intercom and a buzzer. So one morning, I arrive in the station and buzz the other end, expecting the line to start up so I can go to work. But there’s no reply. I keep buzzing and trying the intercom, but there’s just no answer. I settle down on the grass outside to read the paper, assuming that there's been a fault with the comms system, and eventually, after about 2 hours, a voice crackles over the intercom. When I respond, my boss tells me to make sure the station door is shut and to shut myself in one of the cabs, as 2 tigers have escaped from the safari park and “they’re on their way down to you”!

Even though I suspected this was a piss-take, I did as I was told. It wasn’t a joke, 2 tigers had indeed escaped and were heading down towards the Drakelow station. The safari park had 2 people who were qualified to handle tranquilizer guns. One was on holiday, the other was off sick. So the tigers were shot dead. This still upsets me. Bastards.

I worked there for 5 years, and it was the best job I’ve ever had or ever will have. I could fill page after page with the stories from my time at Woburn, and many of the friendships I formed there have become life long friends. Sadly, they dismantled the Sky Ride a few years ago. I shed a few tears as I watched it coming down.

Length? A mile long and up to 90 ft high.
(, Sun 12 Jun 2011, 20:07, 16 replies)
So essentially
you were a rude cunt to many of the people who were providing your boss with a means to ensure that you were gainfully employed.
(, Sun 12 Jun 2011, 23:11, closed)
Would it not have been quicker to type "I am a chav prick"?

(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 8:35, closed)
“you don’t learn, do you boy”
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 10:54, closed)
You Sir are a buffoon.
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 11:23, closed)


(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 11:24, closed)
Waaahhh waaaahhhh
Great anecdotes and well told, thanks!

Standard sanctimonious whinging , likely trolling responses. Fuck it, sounds like you had a lot of fun on par with what any normal lad would get up to.

Perhaps it's the smell of burnt piss that still lingers in other throats that makes people so, erm, pissy.
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 11:44, closed)
Do you have a new dictionary?
None of mine include "calling a prick a prick" under the definition of "sanctimony".
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 12:16, closed)
What Dora Said....With bells on.
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 12:21, closed)
I was 17, of course I was a prick!
whats your excuse?
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 12:55, closed)
Lionel the only excuse is you for a human being.

(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 13:19, closed)
& it's not a rich one?

(, Tue 14 Jun 2011, 9:53, closed)

that doesn't even make sense
(, Tue 14 Jun 2011, 13:16, closed)
"I worked there for 5 years, and it was the best job I’ve ever had or ever will have."

(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 13:29, closed)
I may have done some dumb things when I was 17
but I wouldn't have been proud to have said I was a prick, no more than I would now 20 odd years later.
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 23:53, closed)

normal lad mentally-subnormal chav cunt
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 12:44, closed)

I just don't get how it's fine to call somebody a 'chav cunt' based on typical teenage larking around. Sounded quite a fun Summer.

That said, the 'make fatties useful' QOTW bombed clearly some nerves being touched.

I'm probably on the wrong website.
(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 15:59, closed)

(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 16:26, closed)
If anyone's trolling here it's you, pal.

(, Mon 13 Jun 2011, 17:39, closed)
I liked the memories
ignore the serious folk
when you are young stupidity and general loonery
is a fantastic form of entertainment.
(, Tue 14 Jun 2011, 11:38, closed)
thank you
I had the time of my life working there, and Ive enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

And yes, I'm ignoring the negative comments
(, Tue 14 Jun 2011, 13:11, closed)
No you're not.
(, Tue 14 Jun 2011, 23:59, closed)

well done
(, Wed 15 Jun 2011, 11:57, closed)
Why, thank you.

(, Wed 15 Jun 2011, 13:23, closed)

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