After a Saturday morning of rain lashing down, the village draws a collective sigh of relief as blue skies start to dominate the western horizons, and the perfect English summer afternoon smiles on our annual fete. The Pimms bar, the homemade cakes table, the straw-hatted ladies sorting out the yellow raffle tickets. I am always amazed at how much stuff is still managed to be cajoled from local households for the ritual displays on trestle tables: the still pristinely-boxed jigsaws, unloved teddy bears, the unplayed board games 'so kindly meant' as Betjeman had it. My Neighbour Who Knows What I Like (blogs passim) also Knows What My Son Likes, and I see him walking off with a box containing an unconstructed Lego Bionicle on his head. Later she comes up to me covertly and a deal is struck over three huge boxes of the stuff, she looking over her shoulder and me rummaging for cash like we were dealing outside a night club. The Mother of My Children eyes the boxes from a distance with suspicion, but I assure her that she simply hasn't got enough tiny pieces of plastic all over her cottage yet. Youngest Son buys yet another stuffed penguin, and gets chocolate all over his hands which he washes in the plastic paddling pool meant for a game with yellow plastic ducks. We loved it all so much we had to have two cream teas each in the village hall.
Harry Willock: The man behind the curtain / Part one
11 hours ago