Country mouse on summer fêtes

Tis the season of the summer fête. Everywhere, signs are popping up in the grassy verges announcing dog shows and flower shows, cakes and bunting. These days, not everyone goes to communion in the church, but to miss the fête… Well, you don’t, do you?

Fêtes are communities at their best. They’re society behaving without the constraints of government decrees (although the health-and-safety brigade would love to get their hands on them). In towns, paid officials are required to organise almost anything; in the countryside, a coffee morning and a clipboard held by the lady with the loudest voice is all that’s required to get things going. Everyone is given a part to play, and if you haven’t the time, you spend the money although fêtes remain the last place in Britain where things cost pennies.

At ours, children can buy one of Mrs Grassy’s famed brownies, enter the lucky dip, and get their face painted by the vicar for less than £1. As the Government lurches from one crisis to another, and imposes ever more restrictions on what we can and cannot do, it’s all rather charming to be reminded of what we can achieve when left to our own devices. Three cheers for fêtes!