The wines await! One has one’s duty!

In my 1950’s story, Mike, a reporter on the local ‘rag’ is going toa local village fete with his sister, to cover the activities there:

Nancy parked by the church wall in Little Oak and they walked up towards the church field where the fete was taking place. It was easy to find even for a stranger, bunting hung from trees and hedges guided them through to the gates.

“Mr. Scott, how lovely to see you again! So kind of you to give us such a lovely write-up last year, it’s in the scrap-book! I wonder if I may prevail upon you to judge the home-made wine again, your summing up was so witty and hilarious, we talked about it on the committee for some time afterwards!”

“My brother is a bit of a connoisseur of home-made wine, actually,” Nancy butted in. “I remember when he and a friend made mangold and raisin wine one year – they substituted sloes for raisins, of course, but it was the most popular among their friends – unforgettable many said.”

“Thank you, Nancy,” Mike was waspish. He tried to extract his arm from that of the plump lady with an extraordinary hat who was towing him across the grass. “But I’m sure Mrs er-er that someone more qualified than I should do the honours this year…”

“Oh, no, Mr. Scott, by popular request you know! But first I wonder if you would be so kind as to judge the children’s miniature gardens, and then maybe a cup of tea and maybe you would join the cake committee – a splendid selection this year!”

“Toodle-pip, Mike! I’ll catch up with you later!” and Nancy abandoned him.

Mike reflected that since he was going to be obliged to judge the home-made wine, and refusing to think about what had happened last year which had made him such a popular judge, eating plenty of cake as part of cake committee was probably a good idea.

He’d suffered the judging of the children’s gardens; they thought he was joking when he called them horrible little ankle-biters, and when he said the winner was just the least awful of the lot they thought he was still joking and laughed like silly little drains.

He used Jenkins’ precious camera to take a picture of them and everyone seemed happy enough and he headed into the tent to judge the cakes and tried not to eat whole slices and be sensible when the other judges, the vicar and the Colonels’ wife (whoever the Colonel was) rabbited on about the texture of the sponge and the density of the fruit…

Now he felt ready for the home-made wine, rather glad after all that he had submitted to being a judge. He followed the plump lady and the hat, the vicar and the Colonel who had appeared, to take over the judging from his wife despite her polite and restrained protests.

“But Julian, we agreed that I should judge the wine this year… you remember what happened last year…”

So had the Colonel been on the home-made wine committee last year as well? Mike really could not remember. He looked around for Nancy but she was nowhere to be seen although there was a trio of rather lovely looking young women walking towards him, arm in arm, laughing at something… yes, very lovely, but the Colonel was taking his elbow, keen he said to have the first snifter, which wasn’t exactly how Mike thought the judging should be approached.

He reluctantly glanced over his shoulder at the three women and stopped dead in his tracks.

“Excuse me, Colonel, I must just –“

“No time, dear boy , not time! The wines await! One has one’s duty!”

© Lois Elsden 2018

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