Howard Croft: The best time of year is just around the corner

MONDAY OCTOBER 1 2012 HULL FAIR'The annual Hull Fair, Europe's biggest travelling fair, begins to take shape on the Walton Street showground yesterday in readiness for the official opening on Friday. PICTURE: TERRY CARROTT
MONDAY OCTOBER 1 2012 HULL FAIR'The annual Hull Fair, Europe's biggest travelling fair, begins to take shape on the Walton Street showground yesterday in readiness for the official opening on Friday. PICTURE: TERRY CARROTT

As I write it is August and September is in sight – and the arrival of September heralds my favourite period of the year.

All the best things during my childhood came between then and the end of December: my birthday, Hull Fair, Guy Fawkes Night and, of course, Christmas.

Although I like to think of myself as an only child, the illusion – delusion if you like – is difficult to maintain one day in September, my birthday, when the reality is inescapable; I am an only child with a twin sister.

Although I have not visited Hull Fair for at least 50 years Isuppose, I have never lost my awareness of its timing or my memories of the sights, smells and sounds.

The bright lights, not otherwise a feature of Hull, the road closures and the congestion.

The smell of the fair was a mixture of sugary candyfloss, roasting chestnuts and frying sausages, a combination guaranteed to stimulate hunger like no other, apart from fish and chips.

The sounds were deafening: the roar of the mighty Wurlitzers, the off-key tunes of the barrel organs and the screams of terrified passengers on the notoriously unsafe rides.

Above all this, a top dressing of the sirens; police cars to collect apprehended pick-pockets and to break up fights, the ambulances to deal with mostly minor injuries. Bliss it was to be alive.

Of course, now that Hull is a European City of Culture much has changed.

Lights everywhere all the time and the smells are not of junk food but of artisan coffees (you can get a cappuccino in Hull now), Italian pasta dishes and out of the way sausages.

But for one week in October, in Walton Street it remains as I remember it, with the boxing booth, the bearded ladies and the freak shows.

It used to be said that there was a tent in which bare ladies could, for a fee, be viewed but neither I nor any of my school fellows could ever find it except one, who was notoriously unreliable on such matters.

Maybe I should plan a visit this year to see if any progress has been made.

Christmas is no less exciting now than it ever was with the exception of the reporting of the annual drink-driving crackdown, which seemed to begin earlier and earlier as the years went by.

Time was when we had daily bulletins of road deaths and the number of breath-tests administered.

I wonder if the authorities have been instructed to back off in the interests of reducing pressure on the NHS and pension funds.

I remember that only a few years ago the government of China urged its citizens to take up cigarette smoking in the interests of the nation’s economy.

Is there any reason to suppose that those who govern us are any less far-sighted and cynical than those of that great nation?

So, I have much to look forward to, and in good health I am happy to report.

The ailment that struck me down last December and has been investigated by a whole army of doctors, in general practice and working in medical specialties, since January has spontaneously retreated.

I have received no treatment because there has been no diagnosis, other than a rather vague suggestion that it may have been “one of those transient things”.

I make no complaint. I have throughout been treated kindly, thoughtfully and, almost invariably, promptly, all no doubt at considerable cost.

Luckily, my slack old body sorted itself out and beat the NHS to a favourable outcome.

One slightly odd fact came to light during all this: I am deficient in vitamin D.

In spite of my sun-bronzed head, I was asked if I had been over-doing the sun blocker when catching the rays.

I have never in my life used such products, but on the other hand I never sun-bathe.

Thirty minutes a week, I was told, with both arms or one leg exposed to the sun would do the trick and supply my requirement for vitamin D, but I should put sun blocker on that part of my head that used to be my scalp.

I shall be going for the one leg option and cutting off a trouser leg or too.

This way I shall cut quite a dash when I am striking poses in the Bridlington lido and attract many admiring glances.

Imagine it – a brown leg, a brown head and all the rest the colour of uncooked pastry.