Well, it was Fayre as it happens; specifically, the Sedgefield Mediaeval Fayre that occurs every year. Dearly Beloved had yesterday off work (huzzah!) and so we grabbed the first bus up the road to Sedgefield and meandered around this twee little affair.
It led to a discussion whilst in the car taking him to work this morning (boo!) about how very quintessentially British things like these Fayres are. As we wandered about yesterday, watching small children running around like things possessed, their faces painted in back imitations of pirate visages or glittery fairies… as we watched the inevitable Morris dancers (I’m not sure they approved of Dearly Beloved’s background commentary of ‘the Morris dancers have engaged in combat’, or his insistence not to get too close because you could ‘catch Morris’)… as we marvelled at a six year old kid gleeful beyond belief because he had spent his pocket money on a packet of flying saucers from the sweet van, and had bought an eighth-hand, battered book from a bric-a-brac stall… we agreed wholeheartedly.
It was, without doubt, very, very British.
Families turned out in their numbers to attend the Fayre. Sometimes three or four generations of a single family were clustered around the village green, eating dubious barbecue food and repeating that oft-heard phrase whenever small children are involved.
‘I won’t tell you again…’
Which of course they did. Repeatedly in some cases.
There was a mediaeval reenactment group there and they were mildly amusing. Although when they got the LRP weapons out, the former referee and weapons checker monkey who still lives inside me was failing nearly every single one of them on sight alone. Split tips a go-go. We stood and watched Sir William fighting Sir Adam, but we got quickly bored with that and walked around the stalls. Hook-a-Duck. Throwing rings over the neck of bottles. Coconut shy. And there were those slightly dodgy fairground rides that you’re almost entirely sure must be missing a screw somewhere. Endless suppliers of sugar to already hyperactive kids. Marshmallows. Toffee apples. Candy floss. Somewhere last night in the Sedgefield area there were parents who entirely failed to wind their children down. There will be some major sugar crashes today.
Over the other side of the village there was an additional layer of Gloriana. Ye Olde Ducking Stool. Birds of Prey. The inevitable bouncy castle. And Punch and Judy.
It was ridiculously twee and yet outrageously endearing all at the same time. The weather wasn’t great although when the sun shone it was deliciously warm and people were spreading out the ubiquitous tartan rugs and sitting around in the slightly blustery afternoon eating ice creams and candy floss. We went to the pub and got beer in plastic pint glasses. We wandered happily through the thronging crowds, holding hands like a pair of youngsters and giggled at the poor bloke who kept getting pitched into the paddling pool. We ate dead pig inna bun, drank coffee and ate a giant cookie. Then we came home without having really done anything at all.
But it was comforting somehow. Here was this slice of English village life, probably largely unchanged in maybe twenty years. Something that was constant, solid and almost inevitable. In a world where the daily news screams ‘recession’, ‘ASBO’, ‘war’ and ‘death from staring at the floor for too long (probably Daily Mail)’, here were hundreds of people staunchly defying the doom and gloom and being – heaven forbid – happy.
Speaking of happy, Projects Handbag and Podshot are presently on hold whilst I deal with Project Shoehorn. They say there’s no rest for the wicked. As such, I have deduced that I’m very, very bad.