Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Vinter Vunderland

They say that during the war people were encouraged to confront suspected fifth columnists and German parachutists with the phrase 'What's the weather like in Wimbledon?' If the response was something like 'Ze vether in vimbledon ist vunderbar!' then you had yourself a spy and could legitimately stab him with your pitchfork or sweep him to death with your broom handle made to look like a rifle.

It seems though that the crafty hun have had the last laugh by fleecing the whole of London (and I include my good friend Dame Judi Dench in that) at a glorified fun fair. The icing on the Christmas cake was their choice of 'Winter Wonderland' as the title of the event.

I have to say that the lights, the smell of bratwust & mulled wine and the waterside location did make it feel quite cosy if you were able to blot out the four zillion people, the surly German versions of sell-your-grandmother-for-a-pack-of-fags fairground types operating the rickety rides and ever-present 'kerrrching' of German cash registers. The big wheel, for example, looked lovely as you can see below. Unfortunately the queue stretched to the Embankment where it got enmeshed with the queue for the London Eye. They're still trying to untangle it.

The best thing was Grosse Irrgarten which, as well as being attractive by the sheer force of the romance of the German language used to name it, also had all those things you used to get at fairgrounds and places like Southend and Margate in the days before kids had to be bubble wrapped when playing with an inflatable hammer.

Somehow it seems they managed to avoid the usual H & S regs and it was absolutely brilliant. I went on with best mate's son. There was blood everywhere! Kids with heads tilted back to stem the flow, teenagers with their arms bent the wrong way and small girls blubbing like even smaller girls all made the £4 entry fee worth every penny(though it should be noted that best made paid). The mirror maze was the most lethal. I saw at least three kids run face first into plate glass. I took a tumble on the wheel thing that you have to run through but it was still worth the bruised hip and ignominy.

I read a short story in a science fiction anthology once about a guy who tests imports from a distrusted planet. He spends weeks looking at this intricate game looking to see if it formed a bomb or something. Meanwhile the innocuous board game that had no mechanical parts was deemed safe and released to the public. Little did he realise though that the mechanical toy was a distractor and the board game taught children how to lose all their money and generally do bad things to society, presumably so that it'd sweep the world and the people from the dodgy planet could take over. Well, my friend, look at the signs: economy in disarray and Hyde Park full of Germans. They tried it with guns but now it's much more insidious. You haf been varned.

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