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It was Suttonford’s Big Day on the calendar: the annual ‘Ale n’ ‘Arty Festival.

Shopkeepers in the town had been checking the weather forecast for over a

week and potential stall-holders had been trying to determine if they could

recoup the fees for their stands, by studying past records of footfall and

meteorological patterns.

A celebrity chef had been booked to demonstrate some recipes for recession

and Suttonford Morris Men had been bleaching their hankies and checking the

clappers on their bells.  Their wives were keeping their fingers crossed, as well

as their ankles, and were hoping for fine weekend weather.  They were always

pleased to have their domestic space to themselves.

Gary, the modern equivalent of a Town Crier, had remembered his lesson from

the previous year and had set the volume of his megaphone to a kinder level.

He would be commenting on the relative merits of real ales, such as Crushed

Badger and Roadkill and Hop It!  Hopefully, he would have the chance to sink a

few samples.  He firkin well hoped so.

There was even going to be a stall featuring wine from a local vineyard.  The

grapes which were pressed were a variety based on Rot ‘Em Pinot, a vine

whose leaves sported white hairs, making it entirely in keeping with the more

mature population of Suttonford and environs.  Wine historians had linked its

introduction to the South of England to Roman deserters who had planted

stock on the sunnier slopes of Wintoncester, before rolling down them.

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The Duchess of Cornwall, in her capacity as President of the UK Vineyards

Association, had declined an offer to open the festival, but she had sent a

hamper of Duchy products as a donation towards the town’s adopted local

charity: Anacondas in Adversity! 

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Gary peeked through the wicker.  He didn’t think that anacondas would

particularly appreciate oaten biscuits.  But what was he to know, compared to

globally itinerant Royals?  Frankly, if he were to be transformed into a

reptile-and many people, including his spouse, thought that he was well on

his way in the metamorphic process-he was certain that he would opt for the

Stem Ginger and Dark Chocolate variety.  Oaten hadn’t done so well in this

region recently.

At least the anacondas wouldn’t be expected to pay in excess of £7 a box for

the luxury.  He wasn’t sure how their currency compared to the euro. He hoped

it was holding up and that they hadn’t had to resort to quantitative easing.

They were  evidently suffering enough.  He surmised that they must be in crisis

if they were the focus of the town’s support.

Gary raised a finger to check the wind direction and he thought that he could

detect a spot of rain.  The Morris Dancers were supposed to welcome Spring,

but they seemed to have missed the boat somewhere along the line.

He noticed a stall which seemed to be selling nothing but umbrellas with the

UKIP logo.  They seemed to have been discounted by the proprietor, who told

Gary that he thought they would have sold well a few days ago, when he was

at a fair just south of Edinburgh.  There had been a constant deluge, but it had

not been of a precipitation nature, but had rather been characterised as being

a torrent of anti-Farage abuse and now he was left with the entire batch,

which he was hoping to shift.  Gary was somewhat dubious about his optimism.

UKIP Golf Umbrella

He was pretty certain that even an anaconda wouldn’t be seen dead under

that umbrella.