Sunday, July 26, 2009

Always on the last Saturday in July.

Did God gently part the clouds on Friday night and think 'Hmm, Trelystan Fête tomorrow - think I'll hold the rain for 24 hours'? Thus it came to pass that while we all remained dry - and it was the only dry day for about a fortnight - we stood, alternately counting our blessings and shivering in a chill wind, amongst the graves of Trelystan Church.

A churchyard always seems an incongruous place to hold a fête, but it's the way they do things here - Trelystan lacks a village green or munificent squire with big house and grounds so we frolic beneath sombre yews and balance cups of tea on crooked gravestones. I suppose this may always have been the way here - this site is perhaps as old as time itself and who knows what rites and rituals took place here before Christianity came over all solemn and reverential? A barbecue was this year's innovation - our neighbour served burgers and sausages to a hungry crowd amongst the tombstones. I thought of local burial mounds where cremated remains have been found and for a moment considered that things had almost come full circle - fire and flesh in a sacred place.

It's not the time or place for such thoughts though - with a mighty blast of feedback which deafens us all, Mr Dyson declares the Fête officially open. There are draw tickets to be bought (remember, there is always a draw), cakes, jams and plants to be swooped upon and tea and buns to be enjoyed. Children run curiously complicated races involving hoops, cones, balls and buckets. Bric a brac is rootled through. Ditto books - this year as our vicar has moved on to parishes new we seem to have a rich crop of ecclesiastical publications. The music to set a jolly tone comes from somebody's 'ghetto blaster' perched atop the borrowed PA system. At one stage in the afternoon it had a distinctly Greek flavour - Rebetika I think. Odd.

I am selling plants with my neighbour Penny. We are amazed at where our motley collection of plants have come from - and indeed where they go to. We raise £72.40 and are quite pleased. I bring home the 4 sprout plants I took and have bought only a white Valerian and an Inula. Our stall was in a shady spot, on damp ground and I was soooooo cold.
And then there is 'Bowling for a Pig'. These days sadly it's a hypothetical pig, a box of Roses probably. (How I'd relish the opportunity to bring home a little porker.) There are no sophisticated games at Trelystan Fête, just the old favourites from the back of the barn dusted down and pressed into service for another year. Everyone has a go, young and old - children being allowed to stand a little closer. A strip of chicken netting has been baler-twined to the hedge behind the target - we assumed to keep the rabbits out - but no. In fact it's to keep the balls in should some bowler be extra-vigourous and send them hurtling through the hedge and down the hill to Marton. In decades of running this game it's saved a lot of running around. In the big sophisticated cities they'd laugh at this uncomplicated home-made fun.

I think that's what I like about Trelystan Fête. In an age of brash bumptiousness it has an air of innocence, this small community getting together and enjoying its own company.

Anyway, it's over now, done and dusted, for another year, the crockery's been put away and the chairs stacked. Next highlight in the calendar is the Harvest Supper and Sale of Produce. I think we might be away....

*****

We turned in last night shortly after 11.00. The sky was clear as a bell - when did we last see the stars? Back to rain again this morning though.

16 comments:

ChrisH said...

Lovely, beautifully-written post. I love that juxtaposition you describe of 'fire, flesh and sacred' - very evocative. Well done on the plant sales, despite freezing, and yes, wouldn't it be nice to bring a pig home!

The bad news is I have tagged you to describe yourself in seven words. Sorry.

elizabethm said...

Sounds lovely. I love our show here too, a much bigger affair with much of that same innocence. I'm glad the sun shone for you.

elizabethm said...

Whoops, meant to say "but with the same innocence".

rachel said...

What a charming fete- I'm glad the rain kept off, despite the chill wind. But fancy that - no takers for your sprout plants! Mysterious....

Pondside said...

A country fair or small town fest is always the most fun, in my book. The idea of celebrating in the graveyard is a novel one, but as you mention, it probably has deep roots in another time and culture.

Twiglet said...

Well done on the plant stall. I went out to fetch a T shirt off my washing line at midnight and have to agree the stars were wonderful - G was indoors watching a space fiction film about a meteor or something heading for Earth and it was quite a thought as I stood there looking at the stars!!!

Mopsa said...

I can certainly help if you want to bring home a little porker!

Wipso said...

So glad it stayed dry for your activities. It's always such a shame when all that hard work goes to waste because of bad weather. Sounded like a wonderful traditional village fete. Well done for keeping it going.

Frances said...

Now that is a fair that I would love to have attended! I'm sure that lots of work does go into keeping that atmosphere with its mix of new and old.

Surely new layers of memories are formed each year on the last Saturday and July.

Terrific to have had a dry day, as well.

xo

Woozle1967 said...

Hi F! Good to catch up. We went to the local show last Saturday and the sun shone brightly for us - good job, that's all I can say! Miserable flippin' weather we've been having, she wails as she looks at the ever growing weeds......

LittleBrownDog said...

So glad it didn't rain for you. I think it sounds absolutely lovely balancing cups of tea on gravestones and rootling through things - the perfect way to spend the last Saturday in July. And was Mr Dyson he of the vaccuum-cleaner fame? He lives near here, which makes me think it might not be to far to pay a visit (mind you, he probably doesn't drive a 20-year-old Nissan Micra). Wonderful post.

Pam said...

Village fetes are fabulous! Ours would also include a "Rose Queen". Both my mum and sister were rose queens. I was a paige boy - how unflattering!

Nikki-ann said...

Well done on making £72.40! It's not always easy making money at these things.

I just realised, I don't think we had a village fete this year... either that or I've missed it!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I shall put the date on the caledar for next year! Burwarton next Thurs the 6th

word verif is rather apt 'muddlign'

Fennie said...

Love that! I would have been there.
A wonderful idea to have a fete in an ancient graveyard. If you want to know how old the site is then measure the distance between the church and various other churches and hilltops in the vicinity on the 1 in 50,000 Ordnance Survey. If you find that that the distances can be measured in easy multiples of 10 centimetres (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40cms etc then the site is almost certainly Neolithic in origen - say 6000 years old.

You must tell me the trick about parting the clouds.

Anonymous said...

As a local, I seem to remember that Trelystan fete has always taken place in the Church Grounds, the Church is the one central point for most Trelystan people, and sometimes the fete coincides with the Flower Festival when the lovely little wooden church has all sorts of displays. I doubt it has roots in anything more prosaic than that.