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  • iaindryden1


If you need your faith in humanity restored, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait another year… or perhaps find something similar to the below near to you.

Camilla and ‘Wee Tot’, as I call her, were pilling freshly cut grass in a circle to make a stable for the horse. In common with all children under ten, Wee Tot was in love with the nearby shire-horse that had pulled the gorgeous Gypsy caravan to the Green Scythe Fair, which is held every June up the road from our little town. As the name suggests, the grass had been cut by serious scythers in a competition judged by serious judges in what generally acts as the music tent. A few minutes earlier I had admired one old chap wearing snappy Sunday trousers, polished brown shoes and a checked country shirt as he swung the scythe he’d used since youth in one of the competition’s heats against a Hippie woman, two bearded New Age off-griders and a burly young Somerset farmer.

That’s the great thing about this fair - between the arty-crafty stalls and cafe tents, locals merge with New Agers from Glastonbury, distant Totnes as well as with the many levels of the variety of arty sets in trendy Bristol. Amongst this quietly joyous crowd dressed in a variety of summery clothes ranging from the sweeping robes reminiscent of the Swinging Sixties, snappy casual wear you imagine Bristol’s arty BBC crowd wearing, traditional country gear and anything in between, you feel safe. They smile as they stand listening to the jazzy-folky bands (mostly from Bristol), they laugh as they chat to their flow of friends, they look at ease as they waft past you and you feel completely relaxed. This utter sense of security was reinforced when I overheard two security guards chatting in good humour about the state of various hippie vans parked amongst smarter vehicles in a field beyond all this delightful activity.

I had been put in a camping chair in the sunshine out of the cool breeze by the main tent and spent my time listening to the music, people watching and enjoying those who stopped to chat with me. A bookshop owner from a town trendy with Londoners in eastern Somerset told me people have already started booking for the talk she has asked me to give in a month’s time. I again warned her my unpredictable energy levels might make the talk a little flat and she laughed, “I’ll sit beside you and prompt you and ask questions and I’ve already advertised you as a gentle-shy wise guy!” Me wise? How interesting it is being this new me, a once bouncy fit fellow has within 15 months become a wreck for whom even turning on a tap can be difficult.

I spotted one of the builders we’ve had to hire to do renovations jobs I can no longer consider. Two days ago they looked at me as if I were on drugs. I was, but not the funny sort they imagined, though one of them laughed, however the other snorted the sort of snort macho guys are won’t to do when they disapprove. No wonder. I was looking like a crab on steroids, waving both hands at them because Camilla had just shoved brightly coloured frozen plastic wine coolers over them to relive the pain. And who can blame those good guys whose hands were also held high, straining as they reached up to hold up the ceiling.

The only fault with this year’s fair had been the lack of food stalls, many had collapsed during the pandemic, which had meant three hour queues. I almost took a photo of four young neo-hippies at this annual environmental event. They were devouring vegan food from bright plastic supermarket wrappers. Processed soya grown on felled virgin jungle half a world away. Every stage, from planting to fertilising to harvesting to shipping to processing to packaging and selling costing huge amounts of CO2. That’s the tragedy of the vegan revolution.

As the sun dipped through a clear sky, wanting to stay, but knowing it was wiser to leave (I’d not been up to it in the first place but didn’t want to miss it), we returned very hungry to our house where we ate a simple, easy meal. The effect of local cider which had kept us afloat, had faded. The next day, both house-bound, Camilla from mown-grass inspired hay-fever, we did nothing but consider how lucky we are to have such events down the road and that there are people who care about this most fragile world. How fortunate many live in our town.

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