By the time you read this, the local elections will have been and gone. Quite honestly I’ve lost interest. If there’s something guaranteed to turn you off local politics, it’s following local politicians on Twitter. The hair pulling and tit-for-tat that goes on between wannabe (and indeed existing) councillors on this so-called social networking website, has been anything but sociable. What’s the big fuss anyway? Once they’re in they will spend the next five years arguing about dog muck and who’s supposed to mow the grass in the cemetery. Important stuff granted, but come on girls, play nicely.
So, if the new guard hasn’t taken control of the South Shropshire Journal you will have read the first bit of this column, and if you live in Ludlow or its environs (or anywhere else for that matter) you can look forward to this town putting on a socking great party that celebrates victuals and grog. The Ludlow Spring Food Festival is like the sexy but demure sister of the big September event. Both equally luscious in their own way, but the spring one for me has the edge.
The Spring Event has a big old beardy beer tent and here Shropshire does its thing better than anyone else in the world. We are a county of understatement and quiet plodding, but we brew beer like nobody else. The sausages, the bread, the E-type Jags and Alvises (the Marches Transport Festival runs concurrently in the castle grounds) and a bit of iffy folk music is just so very British. And it takes place in May, the most splendid, verdant British month. A big hug of a festival that shows off what we do best in this not-so-quiet corner of England. And it makes me jolly proud to be a Shropshire Lad.
Whilst Ludlow’s gastronomic crown may have slipped and slided around on her head over the years, it’s these weekend-long jollies that keep her steady. Michelin stars come and go, but the festivals make life gastronomically and socially sound in this town. The May Fair last weekend will no doubt have attracted it’s usual tedious dose of NIMBYism from Disgusted of Ludlow; “The helter-skelter was virtually in the upstairs drawing room, simply ghastly. And the smell of fried onions, uugh.” but actually, it all adds to the fun of living in a market town.
Festivals and fairs make places tick, whether you like them or not. Communities come together and celebrate the good things - bangers or candyfloss- and others flock in from afar and point out the things that we as natives take for granted: low house prices, friendly smiles from strangers, quirky independent shops, omnipresent dog poo, untended graveyards…We live in a good place. Let’s enjoy it.