Mid-day, 21 May 2016: Peter & I were ready to leave home – the time had arrived for Peter’s debut as churchwarden at the May Fair and his first experience on the podium with the King and Queen although his ‘partner in crime’, Christine Ball, would be introducing this year’s guest opener, Ian Percival. Our demeanour was gloomy to match the sky – it had rained for most of the morning and there was no break in the grey clouds as we left home. Worse was to come! It didn’t stop to rain – it poured down (like stair rods) for the next hour or so.
Comments were voiced: “What a shame especially for the children in their lovely clothes.”; “I’ve never experienced rain like this in the whole of my life!”; “I wouldn’t be surprised if the dancing was cancelled – health & safety being what is.” Gloomy faces were the fashion on this very, very wet day. However, the children started to arrive with their parents and in the dry space of the school began to get ready for their ‘hour of glory’ – after all, they had practised and practised for such a long time.
Lo & behold (where have I heard these words before?) almost spot on the time when the dancing round the May Pole was to begin the rain stopped – ‘just like that’ as Tommy Cooper would have said. The official opening was carried out and the dancing began – what a treat! People sat, or stood, watching the children perform their steps to the music clutching the maypole ribbon assigned to each. Reception Year began the proceedings and as each following Year group performed, the ribbon inter-weaving became more intricate – such expertise was a joy to behold. Hands clapped to the music beat – even one-year old Isaac (the vicar’s grandson) couldn’t resist trying to join in with the beat of the music in his wellies!
I can’t remember whether the rain started again when the dancing finished – if it did our spirits had been uplifted and it didn’t matter anymore. The stall-holders continued to sell their wares; dry spaces were occupied by those seeking refreshments in The Mews or School; solace was available in the Church with an organ recital performed by Andrew Millinchip. As Peter & I entered the Church, Andrew was playing ‘English Country Gardens’ and my thoughts were: “Yes, without the rain there would be no English country garden”.
Damp hair, damp clothing, sodden grass; huge puddles; marquee roofs having to be periodically prodded with long-handled implements – all these and other discomforts did not dampen our spirits. The 2016 May Fair will go down in Whitegate history as one of the wettest but with English fortitude against the weather, we won the day.