There was a local patch of scrubland, just a large pit on the side of a hill in my local suburb. Some summers, before I was of school age, a small travelling show of sorts would appear, unannounced. What we called The Carnival was actually just a shanty town of well-worn stalls with coloured paint, throbbing generators and grassy sand underfoot.

Somehow my Dad was convinced to take me to this, after work.

The two activities that made an impression on me were the air rifles and the dodgems. I wasn’t allowed a go at throwing the rings over prizes…it was obviously a waste of money. Also, I’m pretty sure I’d have got some candy floss at that stage, had there been any on sale.

All of this took place before my father decided I wasn’t important to him.

I was small enough not to be able to hold the air rifle and had to balance it on the counter, according to my father’s advice. He steadied my aim to avoid any embarrassing dart-in-the-stallholder dramas. I watched his huge hands feeding the pellets into the barrel, each with a coloured tuft of yellow or magenta. This was long before anything weapon-like was legally banned from use by the law-abiding. Fireworks went the same way when I was seven. I never managed to hit anything…certainly no eyes were put out nor prizes won.

The most vivid recollection is of walking onto a raised, tented floor area filled with a random field of cars. You could choose one. I was soon seated on leather with my dad’s arm around me (what passed for safety measures in the 60s). The steering wheels seemed huge. Each was wrapped in bright red, white or blue tape. The look and texture of these grips is still alive in memory. Overhead, I can see in my mind’s eye, afterimages of the glowing, coloured bulbs. Their magical passage was punctuated by intermittent, sharp collisions and the appearance of a dirty youth collecting fares; flitting between dodgems.

Nobody ever explained that these were so-named because you had to dodge the other vehicles, so I did my best to drive straight at them. Many things went unexplained at that time.

The overriding feeling was of unbelievable power. The ability to have a machine respond precisely to my direction is something by which I’m still enthralled.

The next year they built a small supermarket and a string of cave-like shops on the site. Wool and holidays abroad were on sale now. It was soon as if the carnival had never existed.