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Tombland Fair

Tombland Fair

By PeterHunter

Tombland Fair…
Peter Hunter

Leveret Smith also had a vivid dream that same long night…
He dreamed he was at Tombland Fair in Norwich and it must have been a long time ago because he was still a young boy.
The place was a glory of noise, colour and heady confusion. Bright lights from the side shows and rides - strident tunes from dozens of steam organs competing with the excited cries and spontaneous laughter of both adults and children - the shouts and calls from showmen and the urgent and persistent hum of the fairground machinery.
Night had already veiled the city - but the stark spire of the great cathedral still dominated the northern skyline, leaving the brooding grey bulk of the castle keep atop its awesome mound, standing guard on the other side.
It had to be long ago - decades before the fair relocated to the old cattle market, itself now long gone - moved to the outskirts of the ancient city…
Tombland Fair at Whitsuntide - drawing in people from all over the county, by train, by horseback, even the occasional motorcar. But many still came by foot, driving livestock before them or carrying produce in handcarts.
Now the day's market was over and it was a rare time for fun… His mother, sat on the steps of the vardo, wearing her most colourful clothes. She might have been a superbly carved and painted wooden doll, so chiselled and detailed were her features.
Like a Russian doll…
The fairground lights sparkled their reflection from her deeply black hair, centre parted into a generous plaited knot.
Heavy gold earrings burnished her dark skin, matching the thick chains of the same precious metal, almost lost in the deep folds of her multicoloured shawl and yet more gold - the many large rings on her fingers.
Nestling amongst the chains was a heavy gold cross - handed down from her mother. The wide shawl was of a style found in Eastern Europe or Spain. She loved the colours and the passion it conveyed - hints of wild dancing and flamenco music…
… and unwritten stories - legends of long ago…
She also wore hand-made lace, some of it old, the rest new. But it was her face people noticed most. Old, but still very attractive - twenty thousand years of passed on knowledge, chiselled into a classic bone structure dominated by a sensitive mouth and generous nose…
… those dark haunting eagle eyes…
A fortune-teller - she read the palms of anyone who paid her - and often those too poor to pay - but still craved her intuition and ancient spiritual wisdom. Much of what she said was pure fantasy, often invented as the crystal or the cards failed to focus her gifts. Then she made it up… happy endings, marriage for ageing spinsters - a prosperous future for the young, a rebirth for the disenchanted middle aged.
Things they might wish themselves…
But at other times, when her mind was empty and clear, other images appeared, many of them not happy. Visions so vivid they disturbed her.
Many deeply sinister…
… then she was careful - selective in what she told…
In such situations, she would send the person away happy but would take no money. Many who came to see her were the gullible and the simple minded. Plus a small portion of Norwich society educated well enough to know better…
Around the caravan the big fairground sang on. Under the Norfolk night, the carnival glory of the event continued to erupt - marquees booming live music, a huge variety of food and drink and as a centre-piece - the largest fun-fair in eastern England, an amalgam of several smaller ones colouring the darkening city.
Noise, smoke and sparks from the great throbbing steam traction engines, all gleaming brass and shining generators to drive it all…
A twenty strong cluster of these great machines dominated the centre of Tombland. Belching steam and sparks, a heaving burnished bulk with vivid colours - a pounding that synchronised with the heart beat - pumping live electricity into old-time fairground rides. Hissing, thumping, vibration - shining brass and swirling vapour - more fantasy than reality - early in the twentieth century.
Everything reflecting the colour of everything else - and the concussive heartbeat pounding, briefly uplifting the lives of thousands…
Eventually, reluctantly, senses saturated but still craving more, the crowds would drift away from this atmospheric place to walk or ride lonely moonlit miles - or to find a quiet spot to sleep off the intoxication of ale or cider. They would spread homewards, outwards from the city, east amongst the flat watery Broadlands, south towards the Suffolk border, or west to the sandy gorse dotted undulations of the Brecklands. Many would follow the long Wensum river and into the valley of the little river Tud…
Then the night might become lonely, and, as the alcohol wore off, the strength of legend and superstition would reappear…
But now the Gypsy woman was telling the future of a young boy…
... her son, the one others called Leveret…
And the future she'd seen was not good... Not just for the boy. But for the world…
Then he woke up...

End
© Peter Hunter

Extract from Peter Hunter's full-length thriller Time Of The Spider on Kindle...

... read more about Leveret Smith in Death Of An Eroticist...

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About The Author
PeterHunter
PeterHunter
About This Story
Audience:
All Audiences
Posted:
9 Mar, 2012
Type:
Sad
Words:
900
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1,838

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