Mad Mouse at Marine Lake Funfare Rhyl

I was making a recording for Radio Wales at Oakwood Park in Pembrokeshire in August. Have you been on their Megaphobia roller coaster yet? Terrifying: 0-50mph in less than a second!

As the car tipped over the edge of the first drop, I gripped the safety bar and felt an eerie sense of deja vu. My mind was thrown back to the funfair rides of my childhood.

Do you remember Mad Mouse? Rhyl Pleasure Park had two roller coasters: the wooden one – The Big Dipper – and the steel one – Mad Mouse. Mad Mouse was frightening. The little cars were painted to look a bit – but not exactly, in case Disney sued – like Mickey Mouse. The route they tumbled down was twisted and you were never quite sure whether your head was actually going to hit that iron bar you were hurtling towards.

The really big rides were in Blackpool, but my memories of that town were much gentler ones. Our Auntie Sally lived in Fleetwood, so Blackpool was – as the Americans say – ‘a regular vacation destination’.

The weirdest photos in our family album were all taken in Blackpool…

…Gwynedd with a monkey dressed in a pink cardigan and nappy – (the monkey, that is, not Gwynedd) … dad buried in the sand … that freaky laughing clown … and me standing next to a great big bear. I was only six at the time, but I can remember that shot being snapped. When I first saw him, I was frightened to sheet-white by this bear … until I noticed his shoes. (Kids are brighter than we give them credit for, you know.)

If we’d behaved ourselves all day, our reward was a night-time trip along the illuminated prom in a brightly lit trolley, or ‘float’ as I think they were called. Gwynedd and I, worn out from our animal adventures; dad with his arm around mum to keep her warm. The perfect end to a perfect Blackpool day.

Mad Mouse, photo by Phil Huges

Mad Mouse, Rhyl Funfair, photo by Phil Huges

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