Sunday, 17 May 2015

Funland comes to Craggy Island

It's that time of year once again when Stretham celebrates its feast week. Well.... I say celebrates, but after living here for over ten years I've yet to discover anything at all worthy of celebration.
Feast week seems to consist of a handful of half-hearted attempts at fostering some sort of community spirit, culminating in a big 'event' on the village green today.
So will I be attending; showing my support for all the wonderous aspects of village life in Stretham? Errr... no. You see there are some villages in the surrounding area that have a lively and thriving community thing going on, with quiz nights, tribute bands, curry nights, beer festivals etc, but Stretham? Sod all.
There's a sort of mystical inner circle of people who's families have lived here since the dawn of civilisation and seem to wield all local power, a bit like that cloaked collective in the movie 'Hot Fuzz', and for everyone else the place is basically somewhere to park the car when you're not at work.

You might imagine then, that with local activities being so limited that I'd be whooping with joy and anticipation at the prospect of actually having something to do, but previous experience has stripped every last shred of hope that might otherwise be held of actually finding fun in Stretham.
About two years ago I decided to give it a go - to show my support, have a wander around what the flyers assured us would be an extravaganza of thrills, spills, and locally produced Pickled Pig cider.
What I found was a classic car show consisting of five cars, the oldest of which was a Jaguar XJS, and a dog show with about half a dozen entrants. I've never quite understood dog shows - Crufts appears to be nothing more than snooty individuals mincing about with equally snooty dogs before a judge spends a disturbing amount of time investigating the dog's bottoms. The Stretham feast dog show wouldn't even qualify as a Tesco Value version of Crufts, and as much as I like dogs I still failed to see any attraction in this so I moved on. I seem to recall there being some sort of five-a-side football competition going on, the obligatory bouncy castle, and numerous barbecues offering many and varied opportunities for fans of food poisoning.
The one stall that was doing a roaring trade was the beer tent, with an immense queue of blokes desperately looking for something to numb the experience of having to be there, while their wives gathered together to try and outdo each other about how wonderful their children are and who was going on the most expensive holiday.
The whole thing put me in mind of the episode of 'Father Ted' where Funland arrives on the island.
Been there, done it, didn't like it.
I know I'm a world-weary cynic, but I have tried - really I have - but I'm always left feeling empty with the whole scene of false smiles and forced pleasantries, knowing that the very next day the same people who were being all nicey-nicey will look straight through you as though you don't exist.

Instead, I've spent some time this weekend converting the corner of the garden behind the shed into a little zen retreat with a bench sheltered by a big laurel bush, a range of attractive bedding plants, and a chimnea. The perfect little sheltered hidey-hole to sit with a pint of homebrew and a good book, away from the madness of the world.
It's also about the only bit of garden that has yet to become an ant farm, but alas, it's only a matter of time before the little bastards move in and spoil that for me as well.