“Look,” I say to Dad, stopping my bike, stepping down, putting my bike flat on the grass. “Look at this dead person.” There’s a crow, or rather an ex-crow, lifeless on the ground.
Dad stops, gets off his bike, peers at the black iridescent feathers. “Maybe he just dropped down dead of natural causes,” he says.
“He didn’t,” I say. “There’s been a struggle: his face and throat are all bloody and there are feathers on the ground around him.”
“Maybe it was a cat,” Dad says, getting back on his bike. We’re on an open patch of grassland near the mill. “Or a fox.”
“Maybe a stoat. Or a weasel. Or…I know: a bigger bird of prey,” I say. “But why, I wonder, has the other animal just left him here and…”
“Isn’t he too big for a bird of prey to kill?” Dad says, adjusting his cycling helmet. “Come on, let’s get going.”
“A red kite could’ve killed him,” I say.
Anyway, so far it’s a mystery.
Leaving the dead bird, we cycle on, into the woods. There are lakes on both sides, it’s beautiful. Waterlilies cover the lakes: their yellow and white flowers and bright green leaves gleam in the bright sunshine.
Rounding a corner, we leave the woods, and all of a sudden there’s an extraordinary sight ahead of us. On our right: a village green with a couple of dog walkers and some stalls. A fete is happening. We could be in an episode of Midsomer Murders.
On our left though, there are a collection of fairground rides, painted in garish colours and with the most Eighties aesthetic imaginable. There’s a “Hotel Of Terror”: complete with Frankenstein’s monster, a werewolf, skeletons and other creatures:
There’s something called a “Space Walk”, which promises “fun for all ages.” No idea what it is:
As I walk around the rides, photographing them, it just seems an extraordinary juxtaposition of themes and images: the traditional English fete versus the American fairground rides. The fair has only just begun and some of the rides are still covered with sheets, adding to the strangeness of the scene.
The fairground: A well-worn trope in detective fiction. Strangers on a Train, Dead Man’s Folly, Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse. And, I bet, many more. So many people, so many chances for “accidents.”
“Someone’s going to enter the Hotel of Terror with their friends and get murdered in the dark,” I say to Dad. “Or disappear in the Space Walk or one of the cars will fall off the Little Wheel or…”
“I’m sure the rides are all perfectly safe,” Dad says.
“I think someone lost a leg in that Alton Towers rollercoaster crash,” I say. The carriages crash into each other. There’s the crunch of metal on bone and screams and…mustn’t think about it.
Yet again I’m struck by how you can see the strangest things without travelling more than a few minutes from home: we’re a mere five minutes by car away from the parental home.
Just watching Novak v Stan and not feeling very excited by it.
Seb has just called. He’s getting on with his work. Good boy.
OMG! Stan has just won and wasn’t even watching properly. Mazeltov to Stan!
Happy Sunday everyone!
*1994. By Bill Crider. “Blacklin county Texas sheriff Dan Rhodes investigates a crime wave of emu-rustling and a murder that may be connected to the theft of the valuable birds.”