FridayNever before have the stakes been so high. This is Tickleford's Millennium New Year's Eve party, Olympics Opening Display and Royal Wedding all rolled into one. Even though the Unconditionally Guaranteed music festival has been cancelled there's still lots to do.
The eyes of the world will be on Tickleford at 10:00 when former Hill's Angel Mary Whitehouse will cut the ribbon and declare the Tickleford Village Fete open.
Following last year's disastrous event, described as a fete worse than death by just about everyone, the Organising Committee have been working their darned socks off to make this one a success. A host of top entertainers have been booked and vendors from all over the country, from the Duchy of Cornwall to the fields of London, will be descending on the sleepy Wessex village.
Pick out the Jams, Mother. Focus!
Meanwhile back at the Fete ground stalls are being prepared. There's an excitement in the air. An air of anticip
Mother Ruin's Pop Up Shebeen
Saturday dawned bright and early while most good folk were still tucked up in bed. Except in Tickleford, where it seemed the whole village was out getting ready for the big day, the day of Tickleford's Village Fete. First to set up was Mother Ruin's Al Fresco Pop Up Shebeen. With years of experience she was dispensing her wares to other stall holders hours before the Fete opened.
At ten o'clock sharp a Unigate milk float hove into view and out hopped none other than Mary Whitehouse, the Queen of Hill's Angels - last seen on screen in 1979 chasing/being chased by Benny Hill round a civic park, wearing a "sexy WPC" outfit.
Now retired and living at The Waiting Room, Tickleford's old folk's home for old folks who ain't dead yet, Mary was here to cut the ribbon and declare the Fete wide open. Funds raised today will be going towards the Waiting Room's new extension for older female relatives, the elegantly named Auntie Chamber. Marry cut the ribbon with all the style and grace you would expect from one of our finest thespians.
The longest queues were for renowned animal portrait artist Harold Critchley (Great grandson of Harold Critchley, featured at Tickleford Gully some time ago) who, for only £20, would paint your pet. The queue snaked round the block. On closer inspection it is apparent that the reason for the queue is that Harold is such a painstaking perfectionist portraitist that he only painted three pets all day. As the Organising Committee paid £500 per diem for his attendance this may require some investigation. Eric von Biddulph, owner of Barron (pictured) says "It's worth every penny and all the waiting. Do you notice how the eyes kinda follow you round?"
Although considered something of a coup when he was booked, Prince Charles' stall didn't do a lot of business. Allowing HRH to set the prices himself was probably a mistake. 50 guineas for a box of crackers? Most people preferred to pass the Duchy 'pon the left hand side.
A far more successful retail outlet was Marley's Veg Stall. With just one product and an honesty box there was a steady trade. The stall did attract the attention of the Boys in Blue, who went away very happy having each put twenty quid in the honesty box.
Tickleford Village Fete marches on, the Floyd Merryweather of village fetes with Sunday seeing a day of competition and displays. Kicking things off on the main stage was a virtuoso display of technical skill and artistic imagination.
Direct from their sell out Sunday night residency at the Bell and Brisket!
Ladies! marvel at their dexterity!
Gentlemen! savour the finely turned ankle!
Children! DO NOT try this at home!
I ask you to give a rousing Tickleford welcome to BABS! . . . IVY! . . . DOT! . . . Yes gooooooooooooo crazyyyyyyyyyyyy as I present THE ONE, THE ONLY
The Yo-Yo Mas
Sunday's Donkey Derby was a big hit although rider Josh Cartwright was disqualified for failing a test. We tried to find out what test to no avail. It may have been to do with psi of his mount.
"Health and safety gone mad" said one fete visitor when he heard that the Kitty Katching Kompetition was cancelled. The event, known as Pussy Grabbing in previous years, was taken off the programme as several of the children had received scratches from the cats.
"Bloody do-gooders! Bring on Brexit!" said the same visitor when he heard that the Whack A Mole contest had been cancelled following representations from the League Against Cruel Sports. Stallholder Robert Wyatt organised a Matching Mole competition instead. The moles were then raffled off, the lucky winner being Mimsy Tinstar of the Barbeque Committee, resulting in the addition of some exotic hot dogs later on in the day.
Great excitement in the arena this afternoon as Sister Wendy passed Mother Mary's record Keepy-Uppy by a Nun of 4532. Wendy kept on going until she reached 5,000! And carried on until she hit 5,217 a new record by a nun, anywhere in the world! "It's easy - when you've got God on the team" said Sister Wendy.There was great excitement when a surprise guest turned up. Ed Sheeran was there but people mostly mistook him for a young Mick Hucknall and assumed he was in the Frantic Elevators tribute band playing in the afternoon. No, the real excitement was reserved for the arrival of party animal and all round top bloke 'Big' Nobby Longshanks!
Nobby, runner up in Big Brother's Biggest Brother Christmas Special 2013, was proud to announce that since the tragic loss of his uncle, "Lucky Legs" Jedediah Croup, in a freak watercress harvesting accident, he is now officially recognised as Follymead's second tallest part-time farmhand.
Children loved the Wild West Show and the opportunity to ride a steed of their own. Bernard the St Bernard was especially popular. The corgis, on the other hand, didn't even leave their stables.
The Pets who Look Like their Owners Contest was won, as it is every bleeding year, by Mrs MacDonald and her pooch Trewzers. Once other folk knew that she had entered no-one else bothered.
As you would expect with the Tickleford Dada Society on the bill the day finished with a bang. And a wallop. And some trout, a bonfire and a reading of some nonsense verse. Balloon sexing, snow balling, wait lifting, sloe dancing mirrrrrrrrrror bell, Vladimiracle. Bar the shouting.
All in all a great success. See you next year.
All credit to Mick Reid for the illustrations