Collector Of Fairground And Rolling Stones Memorabilia
By Gill Sherry
I imagine I must resemble a curious meerkat as I peer up into Eddie Pollock’s loft. My wide-eyed wonder is, however, the only similarity to the small mongoose. I’m certainly not as lithe or as nimble so I draw
the line at climbing up through the narrow hatch. Eddie himself has no such qualms but he’s obviously had longer to master the manoeuvre – he’s already confessed to daily visits to his so-called man cave.
“As soon as EastEnders comes on, I’m away!”
He may not be a fan of soap operas but his love of the fairground is obvious. He tells me how it all started. “I went to Braehead Primary and Mainholm Academy,” he informs me. “Then I was a milk boy… then I got a job working at the fair. My first job at the fair was with Frank Codona’s daughter, working on her kiddie ride.”
For those who may not know, the Codona family had a long-standing relationship with Ayr having operated a summer fairground in the town for half a century, as well as elsewhere in Scotland.
“Then I went to Edinburgh to see my brother,” Eddie continues. “He was travelling with the show and we went to Murrayfield. Frank Codona gave me a job and I was there for five or six years.”
I suspect Eddie notices my frown because he points out that in those days, the travelling attractions were known as shows rather than fairs.
“I left the shows to get married in 1974 and worked for Ayr Stampworks for 31 years, across from Somerset Park. It’s flats now I think.”
Those early years at the fair, however, had quite an impact on the young Eddie Pollock.
“It’s a great life for a single guy,” he admits. “We travelled all over Scotland. I mostly worked on the Speedway but I could work on the Waltzers, the Dodgems, the Razzle Dazzle…”
The Razzle Dazzle? That’s a carousel to you and me.
“I was a lot thinner then,” he smiles. “I had long hair and the Bay City Rollers were in the charts.”
He’s still thin enough to climb up through that loft hatch, though! Talking of which…
“I started collecting 6 or 7 year ago. I got Frank Codoba’s trucks. Then a neighbour gave me a cardboard stall and… the hobby horses.”
Apparently, that’s another name for a carousel.
What started as a few bits and pieces on the floor of his attic soon became a much bigger collection that now occupies the entire loft space. That said, it’s beautifully arranged and looks just like, well, a miniature fairground. I was treated to a full demonstration, complete with spinning rides and flashing lights.
“You can get stuff cheap on eBay,” he tells me when I ask where he finds his collectibles. “But some are thousands of pounds. If I had the money I would buy them, aye!”
His fairground collection currently includes around twelve items but, as he points out, you only need one of each particular amusement to complete a funfair. And presumably he doesn’t want to encroach on his other precious collection…
“The Rolling Stones,” he announces. “That’s my type of music!”
The left-hand side of his man cave consists of model drum kits, model guitars, books, posters and a host of other items all relating to his favourite rock band. But his most treasured item of all is the unique painting courtesy of his cousin’s daughter, Emma Danielle Pollock.
“She made it for me. She’s a brilliant artist. It’s got the Rolling Stones logo but I got the tongue made into a St Andrew’s flag. It’s a one-off.”
He goes on to tell me about another cherished possession gifted to him following a chance meeting in a café in Ayr after a stranger spotted his Rolling Stones tattoo.
“This guy… he asked if I was a Rolling Stones fan and if I’d ever seen them. I said: not yet but I’m going. This was 2019. He told me he’d seen them a few times and he would hand something in at the café. It was a VIP ticket he got from a Rolling Stones concert in New York. It’s on a lanyard… he left it in the café for me in an envelope.”
That VIP ticket is now pinned up in his man cave along with the rest of his Stones collection, which includes around 30 CDs. But it’s his own concert experience I’m interested in. Who did he go along with?
“Myself,” he confesses, before adding: “My wife doesn’t like The Rolling Stones.”
He saw his idols at Murrayfield and tells the story of the once in a lifetime concert.
“I was up early and they were all queuing up outside. I went through the turnstile and… a young girl stopped me and put a band on my wrist. I thought it was in case I wanted to go back out but she said: ‘That’s you in the gold, because you’re in early’. I was this close to Mick Jagger when he was singing.”
He uses the tiny gap between his thumb and forefinger to demonstrate his proximity to the stage.
“Aye, it was unforgettable. And I’m not kidding you, his legs were about that thick and he runs and runs all the over the stage.”
This time, he holds up one finger to represent the width of Jagger’s skinny limbs before explaining what originally appealed to him about the English rock band.
“Back then they were the bad guys of the pop industry. Whereas the Beatles were the good guys with their suits. I went the other way.”
So, it had nothing to do with fairground music, although, he does have one specific memory of music from the shows and it relates to his fairground hero, Frank Codona.
“Frank had this thing when it started to get busy. The bikers, they all had leather jackets on, they thought they were rockers… they were all on the platforms and gangways where you could stand and they started to bang their feet. The music playing was all the latest stuff. So Frank played Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ and they all walked away! He was clever, he was a very shrewd man.”
Eddie realises it’s very different now, thanks mainly to new Health and Safety laws. But that doesn’t stop him reminiscing and remembering the smell of hotdogs, onions and candyfloss. And at least he’s got his man cave to evoke that joyous sense of nostalgia. I can see it now… Eddie strumming his air-guitar to ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, the Waltzers spinning around in the background, Frank Codona’s name flashing up in lights, the EastEnders theme tune playing in the lounge…
If you have a collection you would like to share with our readers or know of someone else with a passion for memorabilia, please send an email to gill@ayrshiremagazine. com.