Jubilee Jamboree

IS IT OK to drink cava so close to a churchyard?

The whole of Upwey village has turned up to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a street party in Upwey. I’m with my mum, a bona fide resident for 30 years, so I don’t feel like too much of a gatecrasher.

We’re vying for the best vantage spot on the church wall to snap photos of 300 people having a very British knees-up in Church Street. It feels a bit like a medieval feast day. We’re in the shadow of the 15th century church, and children are having a great time.

There’s no official dress code, but everyone’s in red, white and blue. Us too, plus we’re wearing crowns made of silver cardboard. Labradors and spaniels are adorned with nationalistic bandanas.

Right royal feasts are being wolfed down. Trugs and picnic baskets are overflowing with provisions. People have gone to extraordinary lengths to deck their tables with Union Jack cupcakes, candelabra, quiches. We’re surrounded by novelty napkins.

Some of the faces I know. I greet school friends, I meet total strangers – one chap from Melbourne tells us he visits his sister here, once every two years.

‘Is this your little one?’ people ask my mum. ‘I’m 35,’ I say to one lady, half-indignantly. ‘Are you married yet?’ she asks me, jokingly. It all gets a bit nerve-racking, so quite early in the proceedings I ask Mum if I can open the cava.

‘Isn’t it lovely?’ people say to each other. ‘Yes, quintessentially English,’ we all agree. After a lengthy explanation of where to find toilets, the PA system blares out Jerusalem, Pomp and Circumstance, and the National Anthem.

Thatched cottages, built from Portland stone, are draped with bunting. We rub shoulders with teenagers, toddlers, newborns, pensioners.

And the band plays on. It’s the local band, Shooter, and tots gambol on the large sheet of cardboard someone’s laid down as a makeshift dancefloor.

Mum has put together a feast of chicken, sausage, ham, aspagagus, and strawberries, blueberries and cream. Someone is barbecue-ing. There is a bar.

We meet the Upwey Society photographer, who tells us she is waiting for people to drink a bit more before she gets her best shots (and displays them in the Old School on the night of the next AGM). We edge away.

I’ve never seen anything like this in Upwey before, and I suspect I won’t again.


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