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