Monday September 01, 2014


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PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH

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Victorian Christmas Street Fair Shipston

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- Tom Winnifrith

I am spending more time these days in Shipston-on-Stour in southern Warwickshire where my father lives with my (not wicked but just deluded lefty) step mother. I could not live there full time. The average age is about 97 and everyone seems to know who everyone else is. I just want to be left alone. But walking along with my father between the White Bear (his “office”) and home about once a minute there is a greeting of “Morning Professor”. Dad was not actually a professor just a senior lecturer but he looks the part.

Friday evening saw the Victorian street fair. Some folks dressed up in 19th century garb. There were clowns on stilts and a brass band blasted out all those Christmas carols you remember from childhood. Truly it was freezing and felt like it was very much the Bleak Midwinter. All the local societies had stalls. Naturally the Cats Protection League was my fave but the Church (mainstay my step-mum) was handing out free mince pies and mulled wine. It is better to give than to receive so I helped my step mum’s colleagues on their pathway to righteousness by receiving my mince pie. My father took the same view.

London has street fairs. They are more glitzy. I suspect that they would view the Shipston event as a bit clumsy and parochial. But the sense of community in a place like Shipston is far stronger than in the Capital. For once even the issue that has riven the town ( should they have a big supermarket) was put to one side. That is the great attraction of the boonies ( where I grew up).

The next Victorian fair is in the spring – the Sheep Fair. Even without mince pies I could be persuaded to attend.

Incidentally there was no sign of Shipston’s biggest celeb, Mr David Mills, friend of Berlusconi and recently reconciled husband of frightful leftie harpie Tessa Jowell. It seems that since the great reconciliation ( which coincided neatly with her retirement from front line politics) he is spending less time in their ( oops I meant his) mansion in Shipston and more timer in their ( oops I meant her) mansion in North London.

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