All the wheels a stage

Sunday 24th June 2012

BAIT, sketchy, inward bri-flip, stall and nose-pick: the youngsters have their own words for every move, every trick, every piece of kit. They are ramping up the atmosphere along Gullock Tyning.

Many larger towns would envy these facilities, all adjacent, with woodland back-drop: community and leisure centres; adventure playground; multi-use outdoor courts; one of the nation’s best skate parks. Even a fence to keep the sound in.

Today is a festival of wheels.

Penny-farthings, ancient and modern, cruise gently around the courtyard, with scooters like eager hounds, yapping at their (w)heels. Skaters on boards, battered in battle, swoop from parapets like circling falcons. A trick cyclist coaxes a large tricycle on to its side, parading his skill on just two wheels: a proud jester, at ease among courtiers and commoners.

There are pedallers and clowns, gentleman riders and tumbling children, some of whom lose their balance, but none their temper.

“Many of the hand-powered bikes were designed in Cambodia.”

Of course: the mines.

In the midst of this revolving pageant, this fairground of fresh-painted banners and tabards, sits a steely monster, a mighty wagon needing eight strong arms and legs to trundle it forward, each of its wheels the height of a man and driven by toiling figures, tread-milling the inner framework like caged miscreants.

The iron machine is the work of an eccentric inventor, here in Midsomer Norton to capture the winds, to seize gusts and gales, to be taken to Weymouth for sailing events of an Olympic stature.

Ratchets click, chocks brace the wheeled giant, transforming it into a stage, where actors declaim and leap, wrestling with wind-gathering tubes, spinning on a slack-rope, pole-climbing, hand-standing, balancing on edges: acrobats who roll and rollick to the loops and cart-wheels of their Battle for the Winds.

There have always been troubadours at midsummer fayres. And, of course, we invented the wheel to ensure that what goes around, comes around.







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