One of the (myriad) joys of being part of a small rural community is attending unmissable annual events such as the local village church fête. Saturday was the appointed day for our annual shindig (see photo) and, by some sort of miracle, the village was blessed with a gloriously sunny May day – which just happened to be sandwiched between two bitterly cold, wet November days. I previously referred to this rare appearance by the sun as some sort of miracle, but in fact our (sadly soon to be leaving) lady minister assured me – tongue firmly in her holy cheek – that she had been on her knees all night putting up prayers. As I commented to her, it must be rather handy to be so well connected!
What’s particularly fascinating about such village events is the way that you see, rubbing shoulders with each other, the full gamut of the indigenous local species – ranging from feisty, dyed-in-the-wool, slightly eccentric older folk through to young, too-cool-for-school teenagers and even younger primary school kids, whose sole purpose throughout the afternoon is to pay as many visits to the ice cream tent as their parents will sanction. Evidently local parents were fairly liberal in their ice cream funding habits on Saturday, so sadly all the ice cream had vanished by the time Yours Truly pitched up at the tent – having previously fought her way to the front of the home-made fudge queue, narrowly avoided being mown down by a gundog in full retrieval mode, and having secured a bargain set of Kavanagh QC videos for HunterGatherer.
Actually, I have to confess that HunterGatherer very nearly didn’t get the videos I’d so generously bought him (for the princely sum of £1), as he spent part of the weekend in deepest disgrace after committing a cardinal sin. To elucidate, he saw fit to store his syringe, dosing gun and open bottle of Ovivac-P – fresh from active duty that morning dosing lambs in the paddock – on the top shelf of the household fridge WITHOUT putting it inside a plastic bag first. ARGH! I suppose the only upside of any possible cross-contamination with our cheese rations is that we should be fairly immune to pasteurella and/or any clostridial diseases that might be lurking in our fridge.
HG then further blotted his copybook by getting a bit over-enthusiastic with the chain saw and chopping down a part of the hedge that screens the cottage to the south-east. I had particularly wanted to retain the high hedge (instead of the now Legoland version) as the local Council, in their immeasurable wisdom, have just given permission for a land developer to squeeze two houses into a fairly small corner of the field next door to us. Having not been used for the past 15 years to having anyone able to peer in through my windows (our nearest neighbours on the other side being a respectable distance away), I do have a tendency to wander around the house occasionally in a state of undress that might not be deemed a welcome sight by any newcomer to the area. Hence the hedge was supposed to be left intact, to avoid any nasty surprises for the builders (and in turn the new neighbours) when they arrive. The selfsame local Council is also currently contemplating giving permission for a 45m wind turbine within sight of our smallholding. Suddenly our wee rural idyll is feeling somewhat under siege.
Still, things are not all doom and gloom. Down south, amidst the Dreamy Spires, Daughter No. 1 was in frantic ‘organising’ mode on Saturday. Just in case their library-like reading lists and multifarious sporting endeavours didn’t fill their every waking moment quite full enough, she and a group of her 2nd year college buddies have spent the last 10 months organising the St Something’s Summer Ball. To honour the year of the Olympics, they elected to have The Ancient World as their theme for the event, and from the series of photos (one of them attached, featuring a giant helmet) she texted me as Saturday progressed, it boded to be a fantasmagorical night out, with no detail overlooked.
Reports on Sunday indicated that all went well, apart from the usual expected hiccups involved in organising an event attended by 1,700 students (yes, you read that right – I double-checked the figure!). By ‘hiccups’, I mean minor problems such as folk trying to gatecrash, and thus avoid paying, by dint of climbing over the boundaries of the St Something’s walled garden.
Little did these unsuspecting fare-dodgers know that the savvy and ultra-efficient Committee had fore-guessed this shady little ball-crashing scheme, so a “friendly” welcoming party awaited any intruders in the form of a rabid guard dog and his (potentially equally rabid) minder. Apart from one quasi-mauling (perfectly in keeping with the significant role of savage animals in the Ancient World), apparently no damage was done. By 9 a.m. on Sunday, the massive clear-up operation had begun, which (according to Daughter No.1) made even tackling Son&Heir’s bedroom seem like a picnic in the park – and that means it must have been a task of Herculean proportions (note astute Ancient World analogy).
Amusingly, it appears that various items of interest were unearthed during Sunday’s mass post-ball sanitation operation, including a random bra and a shoe. When I heard this, I couldn’t help but wonder if a modern-day version of the Cinderella story will now ensue, with the girls of St Something’s and other Colleges from far and wide queuing up impatiently to see which mysterious maiden will fit the appropriate parts of their anatomy perfectly into the lost items …