Yes, it’s May Fair Saturday today! But first, we need to deal with what we might call ‘Pubs in Transition III and IV’ as it’s been quite a climactic week at the Golden Lion, all in all.
Monday morning, a man appeared at the Co-op to drop off a bunch of keys. Turns out they were for the Lion: ‘It’s closed’, he told onlookers agog; and stormed out. An email sent out to current staff later that day might have been disingenuous, but whether or not, it made the story very clear: the tenancy was being vacated and their new jobs were gone.
Now it takes a certain kind of tenant to be able to run down a thriving business, driving all its customers away within the first two months of taking over a premises. But only an abjectly stupid sort of tenant would vacate just before the second most lucrative weekend of the year; the May Fair has been coming in just behind the New Year’s Eve festivities in terms of revenue for some years now throughout the village’s pubs, and besides, the weather looked fair for drinking beer in the sunshine!
Or, perhaps it was because the cavalry was close at hand! Owners Richard and Louise Price arrived back in Allendale from Australia on the morning of Tuesday, to report a variety of missing items from the pub: tills, iPads, computers, decorative items; and the place a sorry mess to survey. Undaunted, the report I’ve heard was that the indefatigable couple had sworn to have the place back up and serving by lunchtime Wednesday. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they managed it (certainly they were open for service by Wednesday evening, greeted back by a large crowd of locals delighted to see them), but it was definitely looking like a large ask. The good news is that the Lion is open now.
So doubtless it will take a fair old while to recruit back the staff who had been displaced, and the customers who had been unvalued, but at least the pub and the village should get through the May Fair weekend relatively intact!
And the preparations look solid, with the curtain-sider so carefully placed looking out over the square (I tried and tried to get the Lions to consider placing the main stage (which is the curtain-sider’s function) in that position for several years, to no avail). It always seemed the perfect place to me. Meanwhile, of course, the Youth Project was hosting a wonderful set of events on Friday afternoon/evening which, to all accounts, were each very well received.
So this entry today will have a few more updates throughout Saturday and Sunday, no doubt, with a few more images too, I hope, as a special May Fair entry, but for now it’s probably sufficient, in my first few hours back from the hospital, to place it up for consideration, while further editing proceeds apace.
Reports from the day suggest that all the old familiar stalls were out in abundance: the annual plant sales by the Leeks Club; Cumberland Mustard; the Lions Club stall featuring children and adult specific bran tubs; new this year the Labour Party Supporters Stall; hook-a-duck; bouncy castle; hand knitted and hand-sewn goods; hand-flavoured wild berry spirits; B4AV (Broadband for the Allen Valleys) . tombolas galore. As ever, the strong men competition was exciting when the strong men were doing something, less so when they weren’t. And then there were the Human Hamster Balls at the Recreation Ground, the 10k race organised by Allen Valley Striders, and lots of brilliant activities for younger folks to participate in.
Wood and Fire Pizza, Flatbread and Mexican food stalls contributed to a well-catered Fair this year as well (though it had turned a bit chilly and slightly misty by late afternoon). No doubt the musical entries for this evening from the curtain-hanger stage (Whapweasel and Tomorrow is Lost) and all day tomorrow (if the weather holds) will be an exciting complement to the whole shebang.
Meanwhile, there’s still a bit space to thank all of the dozen or so contributors who sent in material or gave their time for a chat, to help stockpile entries for the daily progression of the diary while I was indisposed, and especially to thank Carrie who carefully persevered with the publishing details, every morning prompt, though she had ample other worries! Thank you all!