Blaise Tapp writes: I’m a veteran of countless traumatic visits to soulless soft play centres, where coffee invariably tastes like creosote and the noise levels are comparable with a 747 on take off. I’ve spent hundreds of afternoons pushing ill-tempered children (my own of course) on swings in neglected municipal play parks and I’ve lost count of how many truly awful feature-length animations I’ve had to endure.
But, these days, it’s funfairs and theme parks which fill me with the greatest dread, because I know it is more than likely to end in tears or result in me falling out with a family of Brummies who haven’t yet mastered the art of queuing up.
In my youth and into my twenties I genuinely enjoyed all the fun of the fair and made it my mission in life to experience the biggest and scariest rides. These days, trips to theme parks usually involve me whining about how I’ve spent the equivalent of a fortnight’s food shopping cash on being made to feel queasy for the following two days.
Long suffering readers of my column may recall how, some seven years ago, I endured the ignominy of having to be rescued from a theme park ride which had stopped working due to having to cope with carrying my weight. It has gone down in Tapp family folklore and this embarrassing yarn is likely to be my enduring legacy for the generations that follow. That was the moment that I realised such places were no longer my bag but, due to the fact that I have two children, I have very little say in the matter.
Our most recent visit to such a place came the other weekend when I finally caved into repeated demands to ride with my pair on the dreaded pirate ship. You know the one; the giant pendulum-like ride which subjects thrillseekers to several minutes of sheer hell, which includes being dangled at about 40 feet above the ground for what feels like 60 seconds.
I don’t mind admitting it but I screamed loudly during my most recent funfair ordeal – something which no 45-year-old man should ever do in public – much to the amusement of Mrs Tapp, who managed to get her excuses in before me and bagged herself a front row seat from which to witness the drama.
About a quarter of a century ago, such challenges were dispatched with ease, usually before I headed to the bar to drink my own bodyweight in fizzy lager and scoff whatever deep fried products took my fancy.
Following my misery aboard the pirate ship, which might have been a galleon, all I really needed was a darkened room and a large brandy.
What I got was no sympathy at all, before I was frogmarched to the neighbouring amusement arcade, where I was relieved of even more of my hard earned cash. If I’m being totally honest, my brief brush with what felt like death reduced me to a quivering wreck for at least 24 hours.
Mrs Tapp reckons it’s something to do with my inner ear and my advancing years – apparently those of us old enough to remember taping the Top 40 from the radio have typically lost our tolerance to being spun round repeatedly. Even though she doesn’t wear a white coat to work, I’ll take her word for it because I need all the excuses I can find to avoid having to put myself through that again.