Last summer, in the brief period between the first and second Covid waves, I was amazed to see a number of funfairs popping up across South London. Funfairs are so evocative of childhood, fun and freedom, that their appearance in what was still then very much the midst of a global pandemic, seemed totally incongruous.
On an August bank holiday, I took my camera and walked around the near-deserted funfair on Streatham Common, near my flat. The piece of creative non-fiction that resulted from this has now been published in The Mechanics Institute Review. The piece uses funfairs to as a focus for exploring memory and nostalgia, and the capacity of certain everyday triggers to transport you back to intense and meaningful moments in time.
It is also partly about surrealism, and how the ‘jolt’ – the jarring moments of dislocation, disorientation and realisation – described by people like Louis Aragon and Andre Breton can be encountered in the most mundane contexts. In this case, a South London funfair on a rainy day in August…
The piece can be accessed here, and also features a photograph by me: