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Racism and The Funfair Industry

29 June 2021

The George Flloyd affair brought racism to the forefront of the media last summer. The resultant riots around the world went way past any legitimate form of protest, looting and destroying shops doesn’t highlight racial equality in any meaningful way.

Now racism is quite wrong. There isn’t any viable argument you can make in its favour. There exists in this country at least, a great deal of legislation against it, as well as organisations dedicated to fighting it. I’m not claiming this solves the problem, but it is at least a step in the right direction.

The Funfair

Now, a curious thing is, that any reputable organisation, media outlet, website etc, wouldn’t dream of posting insulting content about a black person, a gay person, transgender etc. They do however feel quite comfortable in doing it about the funfair industry. I am going to look at a few examples of what we have happened across online, and in news print. Some are still viewable, others date back up to a dozen years or so. Still periods in time when it wouldn’t have been allowed about anyone else.

Firebox And Their Candy Floss Machine

This was an online gift supplier called Firebox

Everyone loves candy floss. As far as naughty-but-nice nostalgic treats go, it’s right up there with toffee apples and giant gobstoppers. The trouble is getting your gob round a woolly mass of scrumptious spun sugar usually involves visiting the local fair. And trudging through puddles of diesel amidst swarms of screaming teenagers is about as much fun as riding the chariots after a hot dog supper.

That’s why you need to get spinning with our ingenious Candy Floss Maker. With this idiot-proof contraption you’ll be making funfair-style candy floss in minutes. Simply add regular granulated sugar and switch it on. That’s all there is to it. Well, almost.

As the machine heats up, the central head begins to spin, forcing liquid sugar through its tiny perforations. The instant the threads of sugar hit the air they cool and re-solidify, causing a web of sugary threads to develop in the dishwasher-friendly collection bowl. All you have to do is gather up the yummy wisps on your candy floss cone and get munching. The whole process is really rather wondrous.

The resultant candy floss tastes exactly the same as the woolly, melt in the mouth stuff you wolfed down as a kid. The only difference is you won’t have to blag 50p off your mum in order to watch some old hag with a face like a spat out toffee, drop fag ash in the bowl. Speaking of additional ingredients, a dash of food colouring is all you need to make pink, blue or whatever colour you fancy floss.”

Hmm, I wonder if we replaced the words old hag with gay man, or black man would it still have been allowed to be advertised?

Edinburgh News

City Of Edinburgh Logo
City Of Edinburgh Logo

A news outlet based in the lovely Scottish city of Edinburgh.

I’ve lived in Marchmont for 25 years.
I use the Meadows pretty much everyday… going to work, going out, playing football, etc. and I’ve never had any bother, even when i’m staggering back from that amazing kebab shop on forrest road dribbling kebab sauce down my chin and onto my trainers whilst singing Bugsy Malone tunes to myself!!

However thats not say that the meadows are safe…A point was made in a previous post that mentions how attacks in the meadows seem to go up quite substantially whenever the “funfair” (more like Scumfair) is in town. I agree with that statement 100%!!

All that the fair does is attract teenage chav scum from nearby parts who do nothing but cause trouble and along with the fact the fair itself is run by a dubious bunch too!

Notice too how there always seems to be an increase in the number of car’s getting broken ito and houses getting burgled!! Coinsidence?? I think not!

Police patrols are quite regular in the meadows and i appluad thier efforts to get rid of vagrents, teenage drinkers and other menaces to socitey!

But yes, more CAN be done! Such as infrared CCTV being added to the area! Especially at the east end.

Anyway…when the fair is in town you best make sure your windows and doors are locked!!!!

The atrocious grammar is the work of whatever higher form of life penned the complaint. Again, if we were to complain that a black group visiting the city increased the crime rate would it be viewed as acceptable reporting?

The ironic thing is, talking to a chief constable at one town we visited, he remarked that general low level crime tended to actually drop when the fair was in town, because, as he put it, the toerags are all too busy enjoying themselves at the fair to be out on the rob.

The Newcastle Hoppings Official Website

Hoppings Website
Hoppings Website

Now, like most showmen from the north East, I attended Newcastle Town Moor fair. Or the hoppings as the locals call it, all of my life.

I occasionally wondered why it was called the hoppings, but never really got around to finding out. Then recently I read the official website for the event, and they offer this explanation;

“Another idea stems from the clothing which the travellers wear-old, sack-like tops and pants, clothing often became infested with fleas from the animals they travelled with. People were often seen ‘jumping’ or ‘hopping’ about, itching from the bites they received.”

I have seen photos of showmen in the late 1880’s. What I noticed was their sartorial style was better than the modern era. Most wore three piece suits and hats. I haven’t actually come across an image of anyone wearing cloths, made from sacks.

Lack Of Socks

Shoeless Man
Shoeless Man

I suppose this one isn’t strictly racism, but it shows exactly how officialdom tends to view us. We had transported everything to Preston Park, near Stockton on Tees, for an upcoming event. As happened quite often, most of the guys were stood about just talking. Waiting for the site to be marked out as to what was going where.

Now out of the blue a police car turned up and a young officer got out. Perfectly polite to give him his due. He proceeded to tell us that a fairground worker had been found dead on the motorway. Claiming he had fallen from one of our vehicles. He wanted to know if anyone was missing a staff member. I asked how he could be certain it was a fairground worker.

“Oh it was obvious”, was his reply, “He wasn’t wearing any shoes or socks!”

Now, I looked down at everyone, and unsurprisingly we all had shoes on. I couldn’t swear to the socks without going around pulling up everyone’s trouser legs. But I am pretty certain we all had socks. This was in the days before the trousers rolled up and no socks look became fashionable.

As a side note, we don’t tend to carry staff members on the ride where they may be at risk of falling off. Though a few years later, a drugged up guy managed to worm his way into the centre of a ride. Went to sleep at Hartlepool carnival, and woke up the next day in Yorkshire. Where the ride had travelled to overnight.


This is a small town on the Northumberland coast. Once an important port and coal mining town, now more of a tourist place.

We used to attend an annual one day event there. Quite a good one as it happens, well supported and a pleasant place to be.

Anyway, one year whilst setting up, I broke a small sign, easily fixable with sellotape. If you had sellotape that is. Which I didn’t. No probs, I gave a fiver to a member of staff and sent him to the local newsagents for some. He came back empty handed.

“What, they don’t sell sellotape?”

“Erm, I don’t know” was his reply.

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“They won’t let me in!”

Turns out there a sign on the shop window stating no travellers, gypsies or funfair folk allowed in. I went marching back with my fiver only to have the elderly gentleman refuse to serve me on the grounds of he didn’t like having the fair in town for the day. I caused a bit of a fuss and a passing policeman popped in. The upshot was I was informed that if I didn’t vacate the premises, I would be arrested for breaching the peace, as it was the owners right to decide who he traded with.

I of course with my awkward head on asked the officer what would happen if I was to place a sign on my stall proclaiming we don’t serve black people.

“Well now sir, I don’t recommend that as it will land you in trouble, your not allowed to do things like that!”

“But surely officer you have just pointed out it would be my right to decide who I wanted to serve”

“Not if it discriminates against a particular group sir!”

Obviously not, unless of course it is funfair folk you are refusing to serve.

Newbiggin By The Sea
Newbiggin By The Sea


My favourite one, is when someone I have just met finds out I come from a fairground background and smiles as they ask “Oh yes I have seen a program on the TV, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ so I know how you people live.”

My favourite retort is “Oh yes I have seen a program on TV too, so I know I you people live, it’s called Shameless!

Ripon Nick

This last one I was actually dragged in to. During our annual visit to Stokesley show. A young lady suffered a sexual assault on the Saturday evening.

A few weeks later I received a call from a police detective asking if she could come and interview me. I explained that on that particular day I was setting off for an event in Ripon. Turns out she did her probationary period in the city so asked if I could meet her at the local nick. They were interviewing people to see if they could gain any leads on the Stokesley assault case. I agreed that after setting up I would wander down to Ripon police station.

As I walked in I was directed to her temporary office, to find a stunningly attractive female detective. I introduced myself and she replied “Nice to meet you, you are free to go.” WTF, what about the interview? Turns out they weren’t actually interviewing people, they had a description of the attacker, and if you matched it you would be arrested. Hmmn, out of interest I asked how they would go about tracing the probably 50,000 people that would have visited Stokesley for the Saturday of the event.

Seems they didn’t need to, although there was about 50,000 visitors to the town, and a local population of about 5,000 locals, the suspect pool consisted entirely of the roughly 100 showmen in attendance.

What they didn’t seem to realise was that Saturday evening was the busiest part of the three day event. No showman was going to be absent from his equipment attacking young ladies, when he needed the income. Additionally anyone being absent at that time, would have had the rest of the fair out trying to discover what serious tragedy had befallen him to leave his attractions closed at the busy time, so most of the fair would have been non operational.

I pointed this out and demanded to know why we were the only suspects. “Just following orders”.

Yeah, wasn’t that the excuse the Nazi’s used when they dropped the Zyklon B pellets down the chute.


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