Sunday, December 17, 2006

An observant bird flying en route 'twixt Shrewsbury and Montgomery yesterday afternoon would have noticed a pungent and seasonal aroma wafting up from the villages of Trelystan and Marton - and no, not the usual pong we usually associate with this agricultural landscape but something fragrant, sweet and spicy........

........The village ladies had fired up their Rayburns and Agas and slammed oven doors shut on tray after tray of mince pies in preparation for the evening's jollifications - the switch-on the of the first-ever Village Christmas Tree and Christmas Music.

It was to be another of those 'Am I really doing this?' evenings.

A scratch choir had been formed for the event - basically anyone who could open their mouth was welcome to join - and sang a medley of Christmas songs. The Young Farmers foregathered, adorned themselves in what, to the untutored eye looked like Maureen's old curtains, and sang a medley of Christmas songs. The Vicar in a racy festive pullover played the piano accordian to accompany an audience which sang with gusto......a medley of Christmas songs. A sketch (because in this neck of the woods people still perform sketches) by two 'Old Farmers' was a welcome diversion, involving lots of local names and the exchange of groceries. The audience was in stitches. How we laughed.

Mulled wine was glugged and mince pies munched. Silence fell as the raffle was drawn and tickets were retrieved from pocket, purse and bag. The wise didn't find their tickets until the 'major' prize had been won - this being an enormous knitted snowman 'mascot' - Mr Jolly Jingles. In another place, another time it would not have gone amiss in some post-ironic show at Tate Modern - I wondered if, with a few inappropriate embellishments, Grayson Perry or the Chapman brothers might have approved. Alan won an amaryllis - a prize of seemingly such low status that it remained on the table long after the shower gel, the Santa tea-light holder and the box of Matchmakers had been claimed.

Eventually the hall emptied and, leaving the lights on the Christmas tree to twinkle, we made our various ways home, some more steadily than others - that mulled wine was a potent brew.

Our neighbour wondered as we sat eating a late-late supper, why it had been such an inexpensive evening. Why hadn't more money been raised? But I think the whole point was on this occasion just to get together, be a community and not dig deep into one's pockets again. There'll be plenty of opportunity for that in the future for sure.

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