Fairs and theme parks were a big part of my childhood, and the poem, ‘Toffee Apple Fair’ speaks of a time when heights held no fear for me. I loved The Big Wheel and The Umbrellas and delighted in the sensation of being at the top of the world. This is the closest it gets to flying, I thought. Of course, my Dad was always there to catch me, and now he is not, so poems like this have gained a new importance and help me to remember our best moments together.
Dad was an adventurer and never lost his sense of wonder or fun, even in older age. We often holidayed in Butlins and from when I was around ten years old, I was involved in choosing new destinations. When Dad realised how serious I was about poetry, (I wrote my first poem, aged 9), he suggested the Robert Burns Trail in Dumfries, which I recall being one of our best holidays ever. In fact, I am planning to revisit the trail with my girls, when they are old enough.
‘Toffee Apple Fair’ references this early love of writing in verse 2, also, my calm acceptance of being up high and my desire to win. I’m not quite as tolerant of heights these days and winning seems less important, although never giving up has become my promise to myself.
Toffee Apple Fair
Candyfloss was the obvious choice,
but I was no obvious child.
I was as mild as the mown down grass
in the school grounds, where my legs tanned.
I was ambitious, already imagining
me on a throne, with a pen as my wand,
writing fantastical lives.
I was a hook-a-duck, buy-a-ticket,
teddy girl, steady on the arm of my Dad.
Then up and away, in the petal parasols,
casting rainbow colours on the road.
While other children screamed,
I was constant, ever silent.
feeling flight as keenly
as a burgeoning bird.
Back on land,
they offered me fish,
boiled sweet dummies and darts.
hardy hands and guessing eyes,
took me for a girl with a small, young mind.
Not knowing I would only play
the games that I could win,
claim my prize,
the toffee apple,
treetop wild under sugar.
K. S. Moore