Ed­i­tor’s Com­ment

Cotswold Life - - EDITOR'S COMMENT - MIKE LOWE, mike.lowe@archant.co.uk Fol­low Mike on Twit­ter: @cot­slifeed­i­tor

ITHINK we can safely con­clude that the sum­mer of 2018 has been a bel­ter. With the ex­cep­tion of a few duff days, every ma­jor event in the Cotswolds has gone ahead un­mo­lested, with vis­i­tors more at risk from sun­stroke than from the usual trench foot. And nowhere has this glo­ri­ous weather been more wel­come that at vil­lage level where the sum­mer fete reigns supreme in the so­cial cal­en­dar.

For once the dreaded phrase ‘In the Church Hall if wet’ was ren­dered re­dun­dant, as the over­bear­ing smell of the gas-pow­ered wa­ter heater and abun­dant dis­in­fec­tant was swapped for the more wel­come whiff of damp can­vas and newly-mown grass. Flip-flops re­placed wellies and the vicar didn’t end up suf­fer­ing from hy­pother­mia af­ter his stint in the stocks. (Once, in a fit of over-en­thu­si­as­tic lead­er­ship, I vol­un­teered to be that tar­get of the wet sponges. Let me tell you, it is no fun at all.)

How­ever, the in­creased in­ter­est in this cor­ner­stone of the com­mu­nity has not been with­out its dif­fi­cul­ties – namely the per­sis­tent sugges­tions from well-mean­ing in­com­ers and new­com­ers that the cen­turies-old show should be some­how ‘mod­i­fied’. Now in Am­bridge, even Lynda Snell, queen of the com­mit­tees, has had to con­cede mi­nor de­feats while try­ing valiantly to bat away the more ex­treme sugges­tions of Emma and Fal­lon. Our equiv­a­lent, the in­domitable Mrs Dob­bins, has been forced to ac­cept that new blood is needed if such vil­lage tra­di­tions are to con­tinue and with that new blood comes the in­evitable de­mand for change.

And so the burger van has been ban­ished in favour of a con­verted Citroen CV sell­ing smashed av­o­cado and an­chovies on whole­meal toast and sting­ing net­tle smooth­ies. The open­ing cer­e­mony, tra­di­tion­ally per­formed by Colonel Tweed from the Big House, has been handed over to a DJ who’s just flown in from Ibiza and is shout­ing “Let’s get this party started” over a bass beat that is rat­tling slates on the church roof. The white ele­phant stall and the co­conut shy have been banned on the grounds of ‘cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion’ (the cur­rent flavour of the PC month), but the ‘Pin the Pony Tail on the Hip­ster’ con­test is go­ing well.

The cake stall, where once mod­est Vic­to­ria sponges did bat­tle with lemon driz­zle, has been taken over by Great Bri­tish Bake-off fans, and tow­er­ing ed­i­fices of ic­ing and spun sugar dom­i­nate. The women of the vil­lage who have re­lo­cated from Lon­don and launched ‘kitchen ta­ble’ busi­nesses are busy knock­ing out oven gloves at £50 a pair, and hats made from cat hair for a ton.

Back out­side 52% of the at­ten­dees are danc­ing around the re-named Theresa May­pole while the other 48% look on re­sent­fully. The Mor­ris Men are rather glum, be­ing forced to wear hi-vis jack­ets and wave foam rub­ber ‘sticks’, but the Splat-a-rat, where every head is that of Boris John­son or Michael Gove, is caus­ing much hi­lar­ity.

There are only mi­nor is­sues. Two young women with blue hair are stag­ing some kind of an­i­mal rights protest by the hog roast and there is a child in tears be­cause he hasn’t got enough pocket money to buy back all his pre­cious be­long­ings that his over­ly­gen­er­ous mother do­nated to the toy stall. But all in all, it’s been a good day. And, as the crowds re­cede, a de­fi­ant Mrs Dob­bins dis­cretely sneaks a bat­tered gol­li­wog doll back onto the bric-a-brac stall...

JUST as you be­gin to think that this coun­try is ir­re­triev­ably bro­ken, with ev­ery­thing from the NHS to our schools to our po­lice on the verge of break­down, some­thing comes along to give you hope.

Did you know that four Birds Eye fish fin­gers fit ex­actly be­tween two slices of War­bur­tons Toastie bread? I mean ex­actly. To the mil­lime­tre. Ren­ishaw couldn’t have engi­neered it bet­ter.

Surely this can’t be serendip­ity? There must have been a meet­ing – a pow-wow – where both par­ties sat down to suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ate this most sat­is­fy­ing out­come.

There is hope for us all yet.

A stint in the vil­lage stocks was no fun at all for Mike Lowe

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