The end of the Summer season

Well I did think I would be writing more chapters but somehow they didn’t happen, and I’m sorry to all my regular readers for that.  Not that it was an uneventful season, just a lack of inspiration to set it down in words as it was happening.  However, now it has gone, I am feeling much more inspired to sum up the summer.

It was a classic British one for me.  A memory of summers long passed, when you could say for certain on a Tuesday that the following weekend would be bright, sunny and warm. And it was, almost without exception. The one exception was the Cumbria Steam Rally.  Wet and cold for the second year running.  I felt so sorry for the organisers, particularly when the Friday before and the Monday after were both so glorious.  And, as a result, they have said they won’t be able to afford to invite me next year, so that’s my memory of Cumbria Steam – sitting watching the rain lash down the windows.

But the rest was epic.  Event after event of blasting heat and some exciting new places alongside the old favourites.  Despite a late cancellation as a result of waterlogged ground on the early May Bank Holiday at Rushden, the early season started well. Malvern Spring Garden Festival was as magical as ever with a much better location for the stage. It’s becoming a lovely annual occasion for me, and I am welcomed as an old friend. Herts County Show has changed committee, and after giving them loads of feedback, they didn’t reply and, despite reminders, were too late with their enquiry for 2019, so I won’t be back there again next year. Instead, I have been booked by the FairylandTrust for their annual frolics in Norfolk (very me, don’t you think?).  Look them up – they’re brilliant. Sad for Herts County Show, but that is how it is.  There are always shows…

Barking Folk Festival was friendly and welcoming, although I found the cultural changes in London remarkable.  I am not sure if my show was fully understood.  Not just linguistically, although that too.  Just a feeling that I was being watched by people who didn’t have a vintage variety show in their cultural vocabulary.  They were friendly and appreciative, just slightly vague and open-mouthed.  Was it me?   Maybe.  I am hoping to be back next year and I will write a chapter as it happens. The immediate area around the Abbey where I was sited, was historically fascinating.  A few miles from the Thames on the River Roding, it had been the port which brought medieval fish into London.  I had noticed the fish on one of the flags and asked a few questions.  Alongside the Abbey Green is the old port and I could imagine it in medieval times as a bustling little fishing town, now completely swallowed by London.  Fascinating and almost forgotten.

And then there was Ulverston and Another Fine Fest.  Birthplace of Stan Laurel, hence the imaginative event name.  What a sweet event and such a nice town.  But strange reactions from several of the town traders to the event.  I always like to investigate local reactions to new events, and this one was quite revealing.  The ones I spoke to just didn’t like it.  Most of the reaction centred on the type of music played on the several stages through the town, some disliked the ‘type of people’ attracted. But I loved it.  The sweet Laurel and Hardy museum in the town’s cinema was the centre of the event.  I am hoping to be invited back again next year and will report again.

July and August was as July and August are always is for me.  The summer had arrived.  The back end fairs, with all the romance of early autumn came and went. I didn’t know until recently that the ‘back end’ is a much more general Northern phrase for Autumn.  I thought it had been only associated with showmen.  There you go.

A final outing in October to a new event, but one which I think will grow on me.  Whitchurch Blackberry Festival.  A lovely season for blackberries this year.  The event has been going a few years.  I met a young man who I hadn’t seen since he was 8.  I had worked with his dad, Chris Panic of Panic Circus at Bodelwyddan Castle in North Wales in the early 80’s and he said I had apparently encouraged him to bring magic into his performances.  He did and still does.  How lovely.

And the summer has brought other changes which I will detail in the next chapter.  Watch out for it soon.  I’m back at the keyboard…

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

David Alexander