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  • I went to a summer fete this weekend just gone. A friend was visiting from Lancashire and we took the bus out of town to a centre for Blind Veterans, where they were holding a summer bonanza. The centre is sited on a hill overlooking the sea. The views are incredible, with the South Downs behind and coast in the front. A little ironic perhaps that most of the residents will never see this.
    The fete was advertising itself as a vintage carnival, with vintage cars, a jazz singer and a REAL fire engine. We knew this was going to be Old School.
    My friend squealed in delight as the tannoy asked for the mother of James to make her way to the First Aid tent. It brought back memories of her little sister always getting her fingers into everything and often coming a cropper at these events in summers past.
    I looked eagerly for a tombola. Surely there was a tombola. This is my gambling of choice and I can get sucked in to spending a tenner on a good looking tombola. And I come away pleased with a £1 tin of spam usually. Anyway, no tombola, which is probably for the best. There was a Splat the Rat though, which made my mister happy. Until I won. I chose some bubbles as my prize which we all had a go on. It was good to watch those perfect soapy spheres start and end their short lives in such a perfect blue sky, on such an innocent, happy event. Helen caught a child eyeing the bubbles up, so we gave them away, and rubbed our soapy hands on summer dresses.
    I am not usually into cars, but I enjoy a pretty looking vintage car any day. There were some beautiful examples. However, it was these chaps who caught my attention. I don't know their relationship (friends, brothers, colleagues?) but they shared that quiet English eccentricity, oozing out of their long grey beards. We chatted to them about what I believe to be a Ford Anglia from 1954. That was not important to me. What made me love these guys was the story. The original owner had had the car since '54 and renovated it a few years back when it started falling apart. He then sadly passed away. These chaps had known him, and the wife asked them to take the car away. It held too many memories for her and she could not bear to see it sitting there. I guess the empty drivers seat, the clean boiler suit, the locked tookbox, all shouted He Is Not Here Anymore to her. She let the car go, with one proviso. The car be called Geoffrey, like her husband. I wish I had recorded these guys to share with you. They told it so much better, so quiet and gentle. I kind of felt that they were looking after Geoffrey as if he were their old friend, and that there was nothing strange in that.
    It all felt so innocent, so Enid Blyton, this day. We ended it paddling in the cool sea, stubbing toes on pebbles as they dragged with the tide. Home with a touch of sunburn and a pint of ale.
    England I love you.
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