Beyond its English-language bookstore, where you can pick up an entire year’s worth of reading for just 50 kroner, I’m not really a big fan of the St Albans Church Fete, which takes place every August in Chuchillparken just around the corner from Maersk.
It’s because I’m spoilt you see. As a child I spent many a happy summer’s day throwing hoops over bottles, chipping golf balls into tyres and trying to read folded-up tombola tickets – cheating basically. And that side of me hasn’t changed – I like games, and the fete rarely has any.
But it’s not just St Albans. In July I went to one in southern England at a place called (I kid you not) Fulking Hill – a sentiment that must have greeted a few of the prices being charged by some of the stallholders: former bankers who are now organic farmers trying to charge you £20 for the oil of some olives their children trod on.
I don’t blame St Albans. Last year I mentioned to the vicar how good it would be if there was a hoopla stall. “Would you like to run it yourself?” came his reply – not quick enough to be testy, but quick enough to imply it was a common question with an obvious solution.
As long as we’ve got the technology to feel busy, the scarcity of volunteers among the under-50s will continue to blight such occasions until they don’t exist anymore, a bit like Abigails, the city centre expat shop that has closed down and was until 2011 a regular at the fete.
I’m not going to lie: the shop, which still does home deliveries, was trapped in a 1980s time warp with never-present owners who didn’t have a clue. The last time I went, there wasn’t a single thing I wanted – they had stopped selling what I wanted because “customers had complained”. Yes, but I wanted it! I was reluctant to suggest items in case they wearily said: “Would you like to smuggle it in from Peru yourself?” In fact, I looked at their Facebook page and there’s a long thread about a man who wants to find a Tesco own-brand bottle of ‘Flavoured Water With A Hint Of Peach & Apricot’. He should try Fulking Hill.(http://bit.ly/17lwZCO)
But maybe I should have spoken up. Caramel slices are so good they could have saved their business.