With election fever behind us, the long weekend provides an opportunity to enjoy the spring weather. The sun is out, and there is a very British chill to the wind – perfect conditions for a village fete.
There are quite a few to choose from; but having not yet formally taken my post, I decide to go incognito at the Cider and Cheese Festival in the neighbouring Parish. The wife offers my services to the Dog Show that has a mixed bag of demonstrations, competitions judged by a second rate celebrity, and what appears to be a significant amount of lifting and carrying in order to set up and break down the arena and admin tent.
I find it is immensely satisfying to drive home stakes with a weighty mallet; securing them into the mother Earth ready to take the rope that will define the arena. It is slightly less satisfying to repeatedly remove them when you realise the dimensions of the arena and quantity of rope have been misjudged. After the fifth or sixth iteration, the novelty has resoundingly worn off, as has the quality of the workmanship. Nonetheless, the final result is fairly impressive, and I have a new found respect for those who install the temporary infrastructure that underpins such events.
Marquees, gazebos, pop-up food outlets, and the traditional mainstays such as the coconut shy; all hastily erected in the 1-hour setup window by reluctant volunteers. Just one slack guy rope or a poorly maintained gas canister, and the whole event could descend in utter, litigious chaos. Add in the more technically advanced elements such as the public address system, archaic fairground rides, and monumental inflatables; it truly is a wonder that these events pass so seamlessly across the country with (as far as I’ve seen) minimal glitches.
As the ‘Dog With the Waggiest Tail’ rosette is presented to a snotty child in an attempt to stop them crying, the cider (and to some extent the cheese) is starting to take its toll. I have already talked myself out of the dismantling activities, and from the condition of my support crew colleagues I assume the whole shooting match will wait until the morning.
At the back of my mind is a recent blind copied email from the Parish Council. There is talk of a summer fete, and it seems to be gaining some traction. I’ll need to check the small print and maybe take some legal advice, because in just a few months I may be ultimately responsible for an event such as this. A sobering thought indeed; which given the amount of cider I’ve consumed is strangely welcome.