Thursday, 11 May 2017

Beauty And Beast

At the beginning* of this month* we went to see our local May Fair. The fair starts with a parade around the roads, lasting about half an hour. As the area is divided by a railway line, we have two chances to get photos of the procession. We watch them going down the road, then we dash* over the bridge, wait a short while, and then see them again as they come up the road on the other side.* This year it was led by a drumming team, followed by the prospective May Queen in a luxurious open top car, dressed in white and sitting high up on top of the back seat. Walking behind were her maids and pages, and the current May Queen, all dressed in white and green with yellow trim. They were followed by another set of May Queen and entourage from the neighbouring realm, wearing pink and white. Behind these were groups of youngsters from the local dance and performing arts clubs, dancing, jumping and singing, making the most of their chance to wear their costumes in public, and make up their faces and hair with wonderful decorations.

* Omission phrase "at the (be)ginn(ing)" "of this (mon)th" "on the oth(er) side"

* "dash" Ish goes up after D, down after T, to give additional differentiation

The entourages are quiet and demure, as befits royalty, each group surrounded by flowery garland ropes and bowers held by parents and helpers. The dancers* were full of enthusiasm and energy, thoroughly enjoying their moment of fame*. Later on the May Queen was crowned in the village hall by the Mayor, and there were displays on stage by the dancers throughout the afternoon. After that came the maypole dances by the new May Queen and her group, to the accompaniment* of traditional music. I always admire how the smaller ones manage to remember all the moves, but as they all hold their maypole ribbon in pairs, the very youngest do have someone to follow and join hands with.

* "dancers" Insert the vowel, as the outline is the same as "dinosaurs" which are mentioned later.

* "fame" In some contexts it may be helpful to insert the vowel, so it is not misread as the contraction "familiarity"

* "accompaniment" Keep the last Nt stroke short, as "accompanying" is similar

The car park and side road were full of fairground rides and food stalls, and the village hall garden had more stalls of food and items for sale.* As I wandered to the back, I noticed a square of the grass in the corner was roped off, with a large tent at the rear. As I got closer I saw the words Rent A Dinosaur on it and a lady* with a baby dinosaur on her arm and children crowding round in amazement. This was quite a change of pace, from May Queen beauty to dinosaur beast in just a few yards. Their leaflet showed a much larger prehistoric beast on the loose, and apparently walking around and doing its beastly* thing, wowing the kids with its beady eyes, sharp claws and rows of steak knife teeth.

* "for sale" Downward L to allow the join

* "lady" and "lad" Always insert the vowels

* "beastly" Omits the lightly sounded T, and this also helps to distinguish it from "bestial" which does have the T stroke

I was determined to get some video of this monster on the prowl but had to take my place behind the rope at least 20 minutes before the start time, in order to* get a good view. The show started with several of the handlers walking around with the baby dinos in their arms, and the children were very happy to get a close-up view as each one went along the line, looking round and opening its mouth. This was all very friendly, civilised and amenable for small children and no doubt they all wanted one as a pet, especially as there were more little dinos resting quietly in a large pet cage right in front of the children. At least*, that is until the time came to introduce us to the much bigger Dexter. Unfortunately Dexter was sleeping in the tent and everyone had to shout for him to come out. Audience excitement and anticipation was mounting, and not just the kids.

* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"

* "at least" and "at last" Always insert the second vowel

A big dinosaur head slowly emerged from the tent door curtains followed by the very large body and long swaying* tail of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, in shades of green and brown, with long feathers on his head and all down his back. I was busy holding the camera aloft and just wish I had been able to see the children’s faces as Dexter walked out. The show continued with a mixture of education and entertainment, and a demonstration of how Dexter can locate his dinner by smell, even with a scarf over his eyes, while a brave young volunteer held a very large pretend steak behind her back. I think the children were divided into those who wanted Dexter as a pet (the minority*) and those who were now changing their mind (the majority). The latter choice was much more rational and wise, as this dino was just a baby but already big enough to see members of the audience as possible snacks and their parents as dinners. But Dexter is well trained, tamed* and obedient, and managed to curb* his natural instincts.

* "swaying" Similarly "sway" and "swayer", but "swayed" uses SW circle and stroke D

* "minority" This can also be pronounced "minn-"

* "curb" This spelling means to restrain or hold back. The spelling "kerb" is the raised stonework at the side of a road, and the outline has a dot vowel.

* "tamed" Keep the Md short, as "tame" would also make sense

The handlers were very skilled, with no upset children, and the team would be constantly adjusting their performance in relation to the* reactions of the young audience, to keep everyone happy and entertained. Of course it did help to see the operator’s legs in full view, attached to the insides of Dexter’s legs and wearing army camouflage colours. After the show, everything else seemed rather calm and staid in comparison, which is just as this friendly village fair ought to be. I knew that the May Fair was a longstanding traditional event going back very many years, but I think 65 million* years is about as old and traditional as you can get. (907 words)

* Omission phrase "in (re)lation (to) the"

* "65 million" Use M stroke for "million" only with arabic numerals. If you write the number in shorthand, then use the full outline for "million". Same applies to N for hundred and Ith for thousand. Dexter in action at Brands Hatch Racing Circuit, UK and at a school