All’s fair with English summers

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The traditionalists - the types who eat fish on a Friday and always stand up for the national anthem even if the tune emanates from a novelty toilet roll holder - will tell you that Britain has lost its soul.

I am not talking about the knuckle-dragging bigots who blame immigrants for all our social ills, I mean the beige-wearers out there who hanker after the days when we only had three TV channels and every home had a ‘best’ room, only to be used on a Sunday. They harp on about how our national values have been eroded and decry the fact very few families sit down together for a meal anymore, and woe betide anybody who doesn’t wear a tie to the office.

Although these Luddites need to step out of 1955 and at least try to join in with some of the fun, I do occasionally get their point. On occasion, I will yearn after an England which probably only ever existed on train company advertisements. And there is one English staple which will forever have a home in my heart - the summer fair.

I write this having just spent a glorious day on my local park, a place I visit at least once a weekend, but occasionally it is transformed into a hub of fun and activity. There aren’t many places where you can sit in a fire engine, buy homemade lime marmalade or be made up like a panda but that is the beauty of a good old-fashioned summer fair.

The British mentality is such that it doesn’t really matter if the weather is good or not - people will generally tip out to an event if they know there will be a singed sausage on offer or a second-hand teddy stall to keep the nippers happy. These days, the food at such events is much better than the offerings I was force-fed at fairs as a child - on Sunday Mrs Tapp tucked into a Pad Thai while the kids and I annihilated pork baps and chicken satays.

This coming weekend, it will be my turn to roll up the sleeves when I help out at my daughter’s school summer festival. The blood, sweat and tears will be worth it if the punters go home with broad smiles and emptier wallets.

Helping to nourish the nation’s soul can be more fun than it sounds.