It’s January; it’s freezing. Yet in a few short weeks, the UK will see one of Nature’s most majestic phenomenons. Across the land, traders, undeterred by the parlous state of the economy, are awaking from their long winter slumbers. Slowly, at first, but then with a greater sense of urgency they are cutting themselves out of their winter thermals. Club hammers left idle for so long now coax reluctant van engines into life. Backs so recently recumbent on festive sofas are now bent in labour dusting the winter smattering of rat shit out of caravans.
Vans and lorries groan as they are loaded with goods to the maximum axle weight. Some goods are stacked and organised to the point of anal retention. Others are just chucked in higgledy-piggledy. Vehicles shed their winter dust sheets and add a dash of colour to the traditional springtime motorway traffic jams, raising the spirits of other road users with a jaunty graffito here and a bad taste bumper sticker there. Also available in white is finger-scribbled on a particularly dirty white van. How’s my driving? Ring 0800 555 EAT SHIT defines the high esteem in which these modern-day Marco Polos hold their fellow road users. And who could forget the classics. Lukie is gay and Marcie is a slag remain firm favourites. And then there are the inscriptions which are just plainly the product of a diseased mind. Carry On Dr Shipman! Where the fuck did that come from?
They gather in one’s and two’s at first and then in larger groups at motorway service stations across the land. Overpriced breakfast buffet queues echo to their early morning coughing. Service station loos provide an ambient venue for their farts often saved up for many hours of uncomfortable road travel. Bars fill with their complaints about fuel prices and VAT payments. Their terriers pollute any vertical structure.
The signs are unmistakeable. The traders, as Sam Neill so memorably put it in Jurassic Park, are moving ‘in herds’. The long migration to the West Country has begun. Another Game Fair Season beckons!