8. The Icecream Man

This piece is a celebration of celebration. We have so

many festivals and shows during the summer in the Peaks – some

of them obscure, others massively well-known. I wondered what it

would be like to attend all of them, and this poem came in the

voice of someone who might do so. I also wanted to include a

moment which I genuinely saw – of a girl in a wedding dress, with

her bridegroom on a fairground carousel at midnight.

The Ice Cream Man

Five hundred probably, by now, she said

and pinched my bum in passing

as I took for two small cornets and a can of pop.

This time it was the Ashbourne Shire Horse Show;

a pleasant pitch between the thick bright toots

of Carter’s Steam Fair and a hot dog stall.

Five hundred days of beasts and ribbons,

sweet-toothed farmers, candy floss and Portaloos,

hard-trodden grass and canvas beer tents.

Five hundred festivals of opera, tractors, rhubarb;

of walking, fell-runs, working dogs and horticulture,

boat show, showground, fairground.

Champion studs and May Queens, morris dancers,

face painters, stallholders, strolling players;

an infinite number of sticky children on grassy blankets.

I remember, five hundred festivals ago, a bride

in her wedding gown, rising and falling above the mud

on Carter’s Steam Carousel, shouting over her shoulder

it doesn’t matter what we celebrate

so long as we keep celebrating.