Dom Joly: Before You Go

Happy birthday darling
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The Independent Online

Anyway, the fair's tiny, just some bumper cars, a carousel and the odd thing where you pay a pound to throw darts at a card and, if you manage to get three darts in the same card, then you win something worth 10p and you are considered a winner. I love this carney life philosophy, as it sets such a low benchmark for success. This is probably why a lot of their kids don't become rocket scientists and yet we entrust our lives to them on rides a rocket scientist would shudder at.

So, when Parker was little, I started a small lie that the fair actually comes to the village every year specifically to celebrate her birthday. When she was tiny she loved this idea and would endlessly boast to friends her who were attending her birthday party that "her" fair was on the green and we would all wander up there in the early evening to get food poisoning from the candy floss.

Then problems started to appear. What if the fair decided that they didn't want to come to our village one year? What if they were offered some money to appear on a new reality show on Living TV called something like Run Away and Join the Carneys, where 10 troubled young people have to join a travelling fair in an attempt to sort out their emotional problems? Maybe the people from Living TV would think that our village wasn't pretty enough or maybe it was too pretty. Maybe they'd think that the fair should go somewhere a bit more gritty. Then what would I tell Parker? It would be my fault. I would have failed as a dad because I couldn't provide her with her own personal travelling fair on her birthday. I'd be hoist on my own petard of lies. She'd never believe anything I ever told her again. What if she was mentally scarred by their non-arrival? Maybe she'd become coulrophobic like Puff Daddy or P Diddy or Hey Nonny Nonny or whatever he's called now? Imagine my precious, beautiful little baby having a phobia of clowns just because I tried to show off and make myself seem a little too important.

It's unlikely because, as I think I mentioned, it's just a small travelling fair, not a circus, so there aren't any clowns. Still, it wouldn't be too hard for her to make the necessary mental leap, and that would be that. No more McDonald's and scary old Ronald.

I tried to speak to the head carney yesterday to make sure that none of this would happen and that they wouldn't ruin my daughter's life but no one would own up to being in charge. I think that they thought that I was from the council or something. Maybe I came across wrong. I said, straight up, to the guy who shouts unintelligibly into the bumper car Tannoy that I wasn't here accusing them of burglary or vandalism and that if they wanted to live this life they were completely within their rights to do so. Who needs houses?

Anyway, they wouldn't talk to me after a while, and so I tried to prepare Parker by telling her that carney folk had much shorter life spans than normal people. I told her that they nearly all die before they are 20 as they are directly descended from elves and pixies and so they might not be here next year. Parker misunderstood me and started crying and said she was scared and then Stacey came along and whacked me in the face and called me an idiot. All I'm trying to do is be a good dad, the best dad I can be.

Happy Birthday, darling.