6 June 2014
On the morning of the Fair the skies over Govan and beyond were an unbroken ocean of dreamy paradise. No ominous clouds loomed over the horizon, no rain was forecast. The slightest breeze hung in the air, seemingly waiting for the moment when people were just beginning to feel the effect of the beating sun to swoop in, give them a blast and cool them down, returning them to a state of comfort and contentment. Children went to their schools in the morning without wearing jackets. Some of the older ones even took off their jumpers and tied them round their waists in an attempt to look mature and in control of their lives in a new found way. Teachers became exasperated as the younger children imitated this, their attention and focus on their day’s lessons already visibly waning. At Ibrox Primary School, teachers were at breaking point with stress even before the day began, anxious about their school’s role in the day ahead.
The start of summer had seen more feet on the Govan pavements. Throughout the town the streets were busier, even in the morning Govan Cross was filled with people of all descriptions. Donna was run off her feet selling cakes as people planned get-togethers later on. She served Jeanie, who continuously told everyone how wonderful the day was to have everyone out enjoying the sun and Govan like this. Phil and Andy beamed as they walked the streets in short sleeves for the first time in 2014, exchanging nods and smiles and greetings with several people as they passed. Even Ryan failed to hold in a smile as he drove first to a meeting to finalise details then to Elder Park to see the setting up of the rides and the necessary facilities.
From Water Row a skinny boy with messy hair and glasses crossed the road to head for something to eat. Watching from the river he was quickly swallowed up by the mass of people on the pavement, an individual sucked into the community as it appeared in force out in public for its marquee day, ready to celebrate every aspect of the lives of the people, young and old. As the day went on there was a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. Even those not talking about the Fair, passing through Govan or going to the Subway or catching a bus to go elsewhere felt the shared excitement of the impending new chapter of over two hundred and fifty years’ worth of history. When the school day had finished the streets became busier and louder as the same people who had been out before now had children in tow and happy to have a weekend ahead that promised both enjoyable weather and the excitement of a marquee event in just a few hours. The normally stressed and straightforward parents of these children seemed infected by a childlike excitement themselves, looking forward to spending an evening with people like themselves and seeing their children happy together, a promise for the future of a generation and a community renewing its internal ties in spectacular and memorable fashion.
Away from the parade route and the surrounding streets that were filling up with people looking to get a good view of the procession Darryl walked alone. He knew his part of the plan as did the rest of the crew, what they had to bring and where they had to go in doing it. He had felt something when in buying a box of eighteen eggs on the way home from school – enough that he had felt compelled to offer a reason for buying it from the bored looking shop owner who didn’t react. He tried to put it out of his mind as he went home, dumped his school things and changed before going out. He didn’t check on his mother.
Darryl walked through Elder Park going to the final meeting place before the Fair. The centre of the park was completely transformed. Dozens of rides and stalls were set up with children screaming and running around. Families were wandering around without a care in the world, awed by the pure spectacle of the event. Food stands were dotted around, portable toilets were placed just away from everything else, still pristine and looking freshly dropped off. The park and its contents were unrecognisable to Darryl. It looked to him like a creation from another world, another place, had been plucked out and placed in the middle of Govan, with the people taking to it immediately as an object from a place and a time where things were better, and people were happier in their lives in their community with others. Roughly in the centre of everything was a stage that would later host the Queen as she was crowned. Everything was positioned as Darryl had imagined it when he surveyed the scene a few days prior. He felt pride as he saw he had known how things would happen. It helped to over-ride any doubts he had about what he was going to do.
When he reached the deserted street where they had planned to meet, the crew was assembled and greeted him happily. The stage was set, everyone was ready. The 258th Govan Fair was ready to begin.