The Full Story
PEGGY PERKINS INVESTIGATES…….THE HOP FESTIVAL
Axel Rose (my large tabby cat) came through the cat flap with a hop flower stuck to his fur! I know now that the town is getting ready for the festivities next weekend.
My dear friend Diana suggested the name for my rescue cat and I rather liked the strong, manly Teutonic ring to it even though he is neutered.
I decided to walk to town to view the window displays and compare them with notes I had made regarding last years efforts.
On my way to town I popped in to the Limes for a small sweet sherry.
The displays were very interesting and when I made pertinent comments and gave advice for improvements the staff in the establishments seem to take them on board and showed their appreciation with cheerful smiles.
This was particularly true of Delia , an acquaintance of mine, who seemed to be having difficulty dressing a manikin in a peasant costume for the window of the charity shop where she volunteers. The dummy kept loosing her arms and the costume would then fall to the floor thus rendering her in a state of ‘dishabille’ much to the amusement of some youths standing outsides and Delia’s obvious discomfort.
Delia is a tutor for the University of the third age and specialises in creative writing. Among the pieces she explores with her students is one of her own works entitled “the hidden codes and mystic messages of Barry Manilows later works”. I found this difficult to understand so have changed to beginners philosophy.
On my way home I decided to pop into the Bear for a small sweet sherry.
Axel Rose was asleep in his favourite armchair when I got home so I settled down to watch “Murder She Wrote” with a cheese sandwich and a cup of tea. I felt quite jittery at the prospect of the excitement to come next weekend so I just added a few drops of sweet sherry to my tea………….
Episode 1 Friday
The first day of the festivities and Axel Rose (my large, rescue, tabby cat) seems quite excited and is finding it hard to settle down.
I'm off to do my little voluntary job at ‘Relaxing Paws’ the animal rescue centre near me. The lovely young staff always seem pleased to see me and listen attentively to my suggestions to improve efficiency. They have also recently suggested (very thoughtfully) that I come once every two weeks instead of weekly so that I am able to rest between visits.
Unfortunately all the animals that I was allocated today seem to be suffering from moderate to severe tummy upsets so the cleansing of their quarters took rather longer than usual. One of the cats in my care today had the most beautiful light blue eyes and they rather reminded me of Jim my husband.
Once home, I ate my usual cheese and pickle sandwich and I treated myself to a small glass of sweet sherry. I must have dozed off because when I awoke it was late afternoon and Axel Rose was pawing at his empty bowl and looking at me in an irritated fashion.
In the early evening I changed into a pleated orange skirt with a navy blouse and prepared to embark on the Friday evening hop festival adventure.
I would normally be accompanied on this excursion by my good friend Diana, however, on our last outing together to the Market Inn, I left her dancing rather vigorously (regardless of her replacement hip) to the bands very passable, cover rendition of ‘ Itchycoo Park’. The Small Faces have always been a great favourite of hers and she once told me that she had known several members of the band very well! When I asked her if they were old school friends she just smiled and said ‘no’!
Diana is now sadly laid up at home having recently had her varicose veins stripped. Some of the wounds have become infected thus rendering her ‘house bound’. I will, of course, keep her abreast of developments…..
Episode 2 - Saturday
I woke up rather early this morning and thought about the previous evening’s outing. My first stop had been the Railway Hotel (always a convivial atmosphere) and I then proceeded to the Vaults as a very interesting band were playing. They were dressed in all sorts of outfits reminiscent of French or Belgian seamen! It was rather crowded but I just happened to catch a glimpse of my acquaintance Delia. I waved to try to get her attention but although she looked my way she obviously didn't see me and was engrossed in a discussion with her two students from the University of the third age. I tried to get through the crowd to join them but but it was too dense so I decided to go to the Market Inn to enjoy a more leisurely sherry accompanied by the sounds of my old favourites Rubber Biscuit.
I must have drifted back to sleep because I was awakened by the soft sound of bells in the alleyway behind my house! My immediate thought was of sleigh bells but, of course, I realised it was September. I donned my very serviceable tartan dressing gown and fur trimmed slippers in order to investigate this phenomenon further… To my amazement I found a troupe of Morris dancers lurking self consciously and clearly confused. I felt able to comfort them and redirect them to the appropriate venue.
I rushed my morning household chores and changed into what I felt to be the right outfit for the Saturday of the festival, in this case a red, polyester, skirt and a pink and cream crocheted twinset and set off to see the opening ceremony. It's always nice to see the dignitaries of Faversham performing their important public duties in their official regalia, I feel it adds a sense of gravitas to the proceedings.
I returned home for a light lunch and to make sure Axel Rose was dealing with the excitement of the day. He seemed very content and was sound asleep in his favourite armchair. Sadly when I went out in the garden to deadhead some roses he had obviously had something that did not agree with him….I cleared up and carefully washed the sole of my shoe, all spick and span ready for the afternoon.
The town was buzzing with excited crowds and it was quite difficult to get served in some of the public houses but eventually I emerged from the Bear quite dizzy with anticipation in time to see ‘Under the Wood’ on the Shepherd Neame stage. They are a great favourite of mine and seemed to be drawing a large crowd which made me feel a bit wobbly!
They really are lovely young men (and one older one) and the singer was kind enough to jump from the stage to help me up when I stumbled and fell. Thank goodness an efficient, young, woman in a Shepherd Neame uniform found me a chair and I was able to enjoy the rest of their ‘set’ in comfort. During their last number when the crowd were particularly enthralled who should appear but my dear friend Diana! Her legs were heavily bandaged and she was supporting herself on crutches but she said that she was fed up watching reruns of ‘four in a bed’ and needed to get out to absorb the atmosphere ! We decided to walk, or in her case hobble, to the Anchor even though I knew Axel Rose would be needing his evening meal.
It was very crowded at the Anchor but when I explained that my friend had suppurating wounds on her legs the crowds thoughtfully made way for us. Diana found a seat and I managed to get our drinks; a double vodka and slimline tonic for her and I decided to have two ice cubes in my sherry as I was feeling rather warm.
We settled down to watch the bands and I wondered how the evening would unfold ….
Episode 3 – Sunday
I woke with a start this morning, the sun was already streaming through the window and I realised that I had dropped off to sleep on the sofa! Axel Rose was making a dreadful, plaintive cry! When I tried to get up, however, I found that I was entangled in a hop bine!! It took me a while to collect my thoughts, extract myself from the bine and rush to feed poor Axel Rose.
It must have been the soporific effects of the hops that caused me to be unable to remember where I had got the bine but perhaps a kindly neighbour had left one in the front garden…..I'm not sure.
I had a light breakfast and a very large cup of tea with just a spot of sweet sherry in it (I find that the medicinal qualities of sherry are much more beneficial than any other analgesic).
Things gradually came into focus and I remembered most of what had come to pass on Saturday evening……
Diana and I were sitting, listening to an entertaining band called Groove Zoo whenDiana suddenly disappeared on the arm of an older gentleman with thinning grey hair tied back in a pony tail whose name, I discovered, was Warwick. He was obviously amusing company because when they returned some time later she was laughing tumultuously. It is so nice to see my old friend happy!
We eventually left the Anchor and on our way back Diana insisted that we stop at the kebab shop as she was suddenly ‘very peckish’. Warwick also appeared and they joined the queue . Seeing that my good friend was safe I decided to wend my way home but how I got the hop bine on my way back is still a mystery.
Back to Sunday, however, and it was early afternoon by the time I set out for the last day of the festival. I went my usual route which took me into the Limes and from there to the Vaults and this time I managed to meet up with Delia for a short conversation, she told me that she was expanding her theories on code and mystic meanings in popular music but this time concentrating on Bananarama's greatest hits. I wish I had Delia's drive, determination and intellectual ability….she said it's a talent she has had from an early age.
I suddenly remembered that I had arranged to meet up with Diana at the Alexander Centre for the closing act and sure enough when I arrived she was already there in deep discussion with Warwick. It was lovely to chat to Warwick, who, it turns out, was a drummer with a band in the 1970s, also an artist, chef and entrepreneur. He was now trying his hand at pottery and writing a novel about his life! I really must read it when it is published ….. He was to be lodging with Diana for the foreseeable future as he was undertaking a ” re-evaluation of his life and casting off decadence in order to free himself of the toxicity of belongings”. A worthy aim I'm sure.
When I got home I felt a bit flat as it was the end of these days of fun ! But I consoled myself with the thought that I have Axel Rose’s birthday celebrations to plan at the beginning of November. I do hope Diana will be able to come this year as she seems to suffer from sudden, debilitating headaches which prevented her from attending last year! Maybe I could invite Warwick as well this time?
Epilogue – Monday
When I came downstairs this morning I was shocked to see the sitting room in disarray. Naughty Axel Rose had attacked my hop bine in the night and there were bits of hop all over the place. While I was trying to restore order I noticed an official looking card on the doormat. It said that I had a letter to claim from the post office as it had incurred excess postage….
I collected the very dogeared and stained letter and returned home full of anticipation for this perplexing communication. I made myself a cup of tea and opened the letter. I was surprised when two rather grainy pictures fell out and on inspection found they were of a beautiful young woman with a small boy (I thought he was about three years old) standing outside a white flat roofed house. They were in ethnic clothing and seemed to suggest a North African location. The other one was a close up of the young boy.
To my great surprise the letter turned out to be from my husband Jim! In it he stated that he had fallen on hard times and had been lodging with this small family in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains for the last few years. His camper van had fallen apart in Morrocco some years before and his attempts at making a living by teaching Appalacian clog dancing to the locals was not the success he had envisaged! He was now eking out a living by fashioning a variety of interesting wooden boxes! He finished by asking if I could forward him some money at my earliest convenience.
I looked again at the picture of the little boy and thought how familiar his features seemed to be and how unusual it was to see those lovely, unusual, blue eyes……..
That's it folks!
Thanks to Anon for providing this breathtaking insight to this year's Hop Festival
Thanks to Anon for providing this breathtaking insight to this year's Hop Festival
(Please note: PPI is written by 'Anon' and that is not PiF)