Sunday 10 March 2013

Nottingham Goose Fair short story

The Beggar Tramp: A short story for the Nottingham Goose Fair

For the last seven hundred years he has stood in the centre of the crowd and watched the people going about their business. On just this one day every year he has returned to watch and always the beggar tramp goes unnoticed.

He has seen houses around the castle turn from wood to stone, taller and taller buildings springing up with each return visit as Nottingham has slowly transformed from a medieval town into the city it is today. His eyes open as the stalls are laid out and the trader set out their wares and he sees the first eager customers arrive clutching their well earned wealth, whether to barter or now to buy.

The traders shouting out their prices and offering their bargain deals as they look to make a profit on the day and try to shift their stock. Groups of girls giggling as they share a joke no one else has heard, the even louder boys arguing over the some choice that has been made or the price a trader is asking. The children have always run and played, the Mother’s weighed down with goods struggling to catch up, while Father pays for another purchase. The clergyman moving slowly through the crowd, his pace slow and steady, his interest in the goods only fleeting as he shows us all, he is somehow above all of this. The singer with the guitar plays another song and sitting next to his hat that has only a few coins inside is his tired old dog, looking up with sad eyes for sympathy.

The bartering is no more and even the sound of coins being shuffled has lessened as the swipe of plastic and an electronic beep takes centre stage. The sellers of alabaster statues have long since gone, the traders of lace, fine cloth and textiles no longer flourish, replaced by plastics and token gifts to mark the day, but there is still the smell of cheese and there is always the Goose.

Another year comes and goes, the daylight fades and the crowds thin, many leaving with bags full and wallets empty. Then as the Nottingham Goose Fair closes, the traders pack away and shut up their stalls and the beggar tramp simply disappears for another year.

He is a marker of the passage of time, the unchanging unnoticed sight in a not so changing world, the beggar tramp we all ignore as we go about our business.

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