Scenes from town picnics and fair days: the way we were.
This view of the town is the one I see as I head to the allotment. I have captured it in many seasons. Today I’m posting it because it features one of the town’s oldest and most notable landmarks at the heart of our town – Holy Trinity Church which dates from the early Middle Ages and was once part of an impressive priory complex. And the reason for doing that is because its current vicar, Matthew Stafford, also known as ‘the mad vicar’ is featured in a 4-part BBC series A Vicar’s Life. The programmes follow the parish duties of three vicars in the rural Hereford diocese (of which Much Wenlock is a part although in Shropshire) over a one year period.
I adhere to no church or dogma, but I do have a lot of time for Matthew Stafford and the work he does in the community. If you watch only the first four minutes of this first episode you will perhaps see why. You will also be treated to bird’s eye views of Wenlock and see Matthew out and about in the town, as well as arranging a marriage at my local hairdressers.
Yesterday. The perfect summer’s day. And here are the people of Much Wenlock gathered on the Church Green in a Great Get Together picnic, organised by the local community group Building Bridges Not Walls. It was of course only one of the 120,000 events being held this weekend across Great Britain to celebrate the life of Jo Cox, the vivacious young Labour MP for Batley and Spen, who stood for community, togetherness, tolerance and diversity, and who was tragically murdered last year.
So we came together to make a stand against those who would divide us, and we did it with poetry, Turkish dancing, song, and soothing tabla rhythms. Swallows and swifts swooped overhead. The churchyard willow provided ample shade and dappled light. Assorted dogs came along too. Children clamoured to have their faces painted, and the place hummed with convivial chatter and good fellowship. And somewhere amongst it all there was a BBC film crew making a programme about life in a rural parish, featuring our Rector, Reverend Matthew Stafford.
Meanwhile providing some of the entertainment were:
Tarlochen on tabla, Ian on guitar and vocals: and a fine happenstance partnership it turned out to be with an ace version of Eleanor Rigby.
Then there was Wenlock’s Turkish Dance Group ‘Belly Up’:
And local poet, Paul Francis (in the hat), paid a heartfelt tribute in the Ballad of Jo Cox:
And young Jenny from the Sixth Form College sang to us:
Local groups also had their stalls – the Samaritans, Rojo Rojo Orphanage in Kenya, the Twinning Group, Cuan House Wildlife Rescue; there was tea and cakes in the Priory Hall…
And then, after a few hours peacefully spent together, everyone went home with smiles on their faces. A fine time was had by all, and so a big ‘well done’ to the organisers. But for the final flourish here is Graham on the path home, showing off his Maldives fish shirt. It had proved a great hit among the picnickers, including the Rector. He told us he had a wedding coming up, and the bride had forbidden him to wear his usual gloomy clerical gear. He thought Graham’s shirt was just the job, and how much did he want for it:
Still, you can’t please everyone and the Highland Cattle just over the fence were not impressed. Much too fishy, they said, before heading off to the furthest corner of the field:
And now for the slide show:
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell