August 19th 1972

“new set batts > 25 days” / “went into EL with Dad took back library book. in evening went EL again and watched carnival roll by”

Ah, Eastleigh Carnival.

Bit of a misnomer the word “carnival” really. What I refer to here is the yearly parade, a somewhat motley unkempt collection of decorated floats, some sad old geezers dressed as clowns, a fat woman on a unicycle and maybe a steel drum band or something equally, …erm, musical.

Eastleigh Carnival week has been kicked off for 122 years by this dodgy little parade. Every year Joe Stevens’ Funfair has set up for a week’s business on the Rec’ (recreation ground) and every year there’s usually a night or two of minor violence , usually instigated by morons coming to the town from elsewhere purely to cause trouble.

A handful of other events take place throughout the week (face painting competitions, St John’s Ambulance demonstrations, donkey rides) and, in a wonderfully anachronistic nod to sexism, an Eastleigh Carnval Queen (plus a bunch of younger ‘Princesses’) are handpicked to represent the town.

I find it hard to believe now, but when we lived in Eastleigh the carnival used to go right by our house. As a result – I guess this was looooong before the day’s of “Deal or No Deal” on the telly?! – the whole family would descend for tea and cakes and literally hang out the upstairs’ bedroom windows trying to catch a better view of all the ‘excitement’ going on in the street.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike parades I just need them to be somewhat more thrilling than I ever remember Eastleigh’s used to be (and probably still is). For instance, the annual Opening Day Parade across the river from us in downtown Cincinnati – celebrating the launch of the new baseball season – is pretty bloody impressive. Lots of marching bands, flag corps, motorcycle display teams and (every year) a 12 feet tall inflatable infantryman.

Oh, and a walking hamburger. Top that Eastleigh!

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