By: Blonde Two
I spent a certain amount of yesterday singing, “Are you going to Scarborough Fair?” . Which was silly because, what I actually wanted to know was, “Am I going to Widecombe Fair?” If you are a hummer, a singer or even an ivory tinkler, you will know that the two tunes share some notes so I think I can be excused my confusion. This state of confuddlement had been added to earlier in the week by the fact that, when I sent Blonde One a text message asking about Widecombe Fair, my phone took it upon itself to write Morecombe Fair instead. Now I am not sure if Morecombe even has a fair, let alone when it is, but luckily our Blonde telepathy was working well and she understood what I meant.
I do know, however, exactly when Widecombe Fair is (always the second week in September) – I know this because, I never, ever manage to get there. One day, I will have a (very well paid) job that insists that I attend the whole of Widecombe Fair. I will get to take part in the terrier racing (well Harry the dog will), stuff myself silly on hog roast and Dartmoor beer and (this is the most important) – give Old Uncle Tom Cobley a big smacker of a kiss.
I think I have told you about my Uncle Tom and how we used to sing the Tom Cobley song with him every New Year, I spent a fair few of my younger years thinking that the song was actually about him. It never occurred to me though, that there was a real Widecombe and a real Widecombe Fair. In fact, I think I had visited the village several times before the penny finally dropped.
The earliest written record of there being a fair at Widecombe was in 1850. Like most country shows and fairs, it started off as an opportunity for people to show off their livestock. Kind of like the calf club that I told you about in New Zealand but for grown ups instead of children (obviously, Little Blonde Cousin won calf club last year!) These days, it sounds much posher and even has its own website http://www.widecombefair.com/
When I was at secondary school up in Malvern, we were given a day off so that we could attend the Three Counties Show – I have many happy memories of boiling hot days looking at cows and rabbits, making £2 last all day and trying to sneak into the beer tent. The children at the primary school in Widecombe are also given a day off so that they can join in with the fun – I am sure that they are too nice to want to sneak into the beer tent. The irony has not escaped me that, now I am old enough to drink as much beer as I want to, I have to work and can’t go to any fairs. Do you know, I don’t think I have ever had a pint in a beer tent. This is a situation that can’t continue … next year, even if she has to feign illness, this Blonde is going to Widecombe Fair!