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Judging a fete or was it a fate?

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Here's the latest Ward's World column from eccentric inventor John Ward...

With summer now not far off, if rumours are to be believed, it’s nice to see assorted outdoor events being promoted that were not held during recent years due to the coronavirus situation, so something to look forward to and go along to support.

One forthcoming type of event I read about reminded me of something similar, judging by its format, where I was invited to be a judge in the ‘arts and crafts marquee’ which sounded quite grand, in theory.

When I queried the ‘invite’ or more to the point why me, I was told I was ‘well known for something or other’ but I was not to worry (?!) as Rosemary ‘who has written some book or other’ (so quite a few things that fell under the ‘other’ label) was my fellow judge - reassuring or what?

Spalding Guardian columnist John Ward (55894386)
Spalding Guardian columnist John Ward (55894386)

However in my case I was further thrilled to learn - I quote: ‘you know one end of a screwdriver from the (surprise, surprise) other as the last chappie we had plainly didn’t know’, which was slightly enlightening.

Come the day I arrived at the village, parked up to then wandered through to the event.

It was well signposted by large arrow shaped signs on lampposts, trees or fences in the general direction of the event.

Once there I was greeted by the lady whom I had spoken to on the telephone as she gave me a wonderful welcoming, patronising greeting.

This was followed by: ‘Do we know each other (again) from somewhere?’

I reminded her she had invited me, on behalf of her committee, but whether they knew she had done so as some chairpersons run such bodies without bothering to tell those who make the number up.

Before she racked her brain on that one I was taken over to meet Rosemary ‘who had written some book or other (never)’.

To be fair seeing the way Rosemary rolled her eyes I could tell she too was finding this something of an ordeal - or other - or perhaps she was wondering ‘what have I let myself in for?’ much like myself.

Next up, we were taken over to meet Jessica and Wilf who looked after the craft marquee - or other - who on being introduced to us were quite pleasant and in the first few minutes had not included the word ‘other’ in any context so we felt more comfortable as Rosemary and I both agreed afterwards.

We were asked to wander through to look at the exhibits on the tables and stands, make notes as we both did so as requested.

Rosemary said she was unsure as to why she had been invited as she had only written a book but it was self published.

She said it was hardly likely to win any famous literary prizes as it was basically a vanity thing which had just broken into double figures sales-wise as it was only her family and friends who had bought a copy so far.

I explained my ‘experience’ - or other - plus my screwdriver knowledge etc. of being invited but she at least knew of me or had heard about me.

Regardless she didn’t hold it against me as she carried on speaking the rest of the time so it wasn’t all bad news.

We were then ambushed by Audrey who was ‘on the committee’ who had just been told we had been invited along and what we were doing there (you can’t beat a well informed committee, I always say, but sadly this didn’t seem to be one of them - or other) so this was possibly all done under the ‘need to know’ heading.

We carried on looking at the various exhibits as then madam chairperson came back to us to discuss the prize winners or rather to give us the list of the ‘winners’ that we were currently engaged in, well, judging!

So was she any good at picking the winner of the Grand National gee-gee race I wondered.

Rosemary looked rather startled - she did a good startle, did Rosemary - as her rolling eyes said what I was thinking I would hazard a wild guess.

Then she asked if this was the case, why were we there ‘judging’ if the ‘results’ were already sorted?

Madam Chairperson said that they, as the committee or some of them, that is as we were finding, ‘were seen as being impartial (!) otherwise where would we be?’ she said with a perfectly straight face.

We looked at the ‘results’ as one or two names were underlined so I asked what the significance was.

The reply was: Sonia was the ‘Best Overall Winner both in class and theme’.

But it was explained that her father owned the field they held the annual gymkhana in, so best not to ruffle any feathers (or fetlocks maybe?) there doncha jolly know, what.

A ‘Special Merit award’ was earmarked for Stuart who was the winner in his class plus no doubt an extra gold star for being called Stuart, based on the score results so far but perhaps his mother ran the local village post office but how wrong can you be?

She was the landlady of the ‘local, popular award winning (what else?) best pub in the village’ but being the only one there so not much of a challenge really.

So we wandered off as mere ‘judges’ with Rosemary wanting to go off home.

I said we were there so we might as well have the one of the cups of ‘see through’ tea from the tea stall plus an ‘Anybody Any Idea?’ cake (nobody seemed to know what they were supposed to be but were twenty pence each) before the much anticipated prize presentation later on - or other.

Those who received their ‘prizes’ seemed quite surprised/besotted/overwhelmed, based on previous similar events in years past that possibly counted as rehearsals as Rosemary and I were thanked for our duties.

As we said it was a pleasure to have been invited (or other) as we departed back to reality as it was a close call between being a fete and fate - or other.

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