Andrew Burdett enjoyed his day controlling the sound system, playing music and providing a commentary to the day’s events. [PHOTO: Jake Smith 2015]
Earlier today, whilst again at the helm of the church summer fair’s sound system, I tried to work out how many years I’ve been doing it. I reckon the first time was in 2007 and, breaking only in 2013 when I was away on the school’s Yorkshire Three Peaks weekend, this was my eighth year on the mic.
Despite seemingly bringing more equipment down than in previous years, it was actually a simpler rig than it’s tended to have been in the past. My friend Jake Smith – who usually helps me out with the setting-up as well as with the controls during the day – had lent me three high-quality professional speakers, replacing the hodgepodge selection of reclaimed hi-fis that we used to use. Borrowed from Daryl Mills, a couple of passive speakers and an amplifier, enabling total site coverage without any one part of the garden being ridiculously loud.
I was quietly pleased to draw several kind compliments as the day went on. One lady asked if I did this sort of thing professionally: when I replied to say that I didn’t, she earnestly encouraged me to pursue it as a career. Another, slightly older, gentleman was impressed by my music choices, asking the name of a track by indie-folk band First Aid Kit; a pleasant surprise, as in doing so he verified my picks as being to the tastes of all audiences.
One of my favourite parts of the event is when I get to walk around the garden and talk to the stallholders and attendees. I remember doing this one year and speaking to a mischievous Rob Baughan, whose father was tucked away behind the barbecue. To his horror, through the PA, he heard his son announce: “Well, Andrew, the part of the fair I’m most looking forward to is Dad’s morris-dancing display at quarter-to-three.”. Of course, no dancing had ever been planned, and it was left to Kevin to apologise to the couple who’d stuck around especially.
This year, though: quite the reverse. Reprising a role he’d played first at this January’s social evening, Ian Gilchrist led a number of folk-dances for willing participants. Kevin was, sadly, a no-show, but his daughter Ruth watched on from her face-painting stall, which did a roaring trade all day.
More entertainment came in the form of a small choir of angelic voices from St Luke’s Primary School. Led by acting deputy head Bethany Greenwood, it was something of a reunion for me: a former teacher at Courthouse Junior School, Miss Greenwood remembered me instantly from my own Year 4 days. (Alas, I took a moment longer to recognise her, although in my defence a decade has passed since she last taught me.)
Congregation member Rachel Beaumont brought along a couple of dancing friends, giving a wonderful tap display at 2:15pm, and there were a good deal of sideshows and attractions to keep the punters happy.
Despite all of this, this year’s fete felt a little quieter than previous fairs — a shame, as Michelle Lane had clearly worked so hard to make it a success. It is regrettable that factors outside of her control (most notably the absence of the dance-school, which has, in the past, brought a lot of lunchtime traffic) took a large hit at the event’s financial accounts. Nonetheless, we must be grateful for what there was: fun, sun, and smiles.
The Summer Fair and the Plant Sale held in May raised a combined total of £1,254.94.
My gallery of shots from today’s summer fair follows.
Andrew Burdett is a 21-year-old from Maidenhead in Berkshire. He is now two-thirds of the way through his Journalism Studies degree at the University of Sheffield. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, going to the theatre, and writing about himself in the third-person.