School: Banchory Academy, Aberdeenshire
Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Maclaren and Mr. Rodgers were the ‘odd’ folk of the village. Upstanding folk most days of the year but together they generated more whispers than the farmer who had been caught cheating on his wife. These three had an obsession with Renaissance fairs, of all things. With the subtlety of thieves, they would prepare costumes modelling them after peasants and queens, passing time in the long evenings admiring their reflections in full length mirrors. The three were brave in defending their interest, never denying it was what they liked to do in their spare time, but having a hobby as outrageous as this in Snoozy Dip was subject to mockery. From sly elbows at the back of jam competitions, to scathing announcements in Town Hall meetings, our oddballs wouldn’t be deterred from their passion. It may have been a good idea to warn the rural village, though, before they invited all their friends to flock there for one of the biggest Renaissance fairs of the year.
It started late one stagnant afternoon, people in droves making their way into the square, clothed in late 16th century attire. Huddled families gathered to their windows as the newcomers assembled canvas stalls filled with hog roast buns and herbal remedies, stringing up bunting on streetlamps and fences. This alone was cause to gawp, especially as our Mr. Johnson began to greet them warmheartedly, wearing his hand-sewn merchant outfit.
A trickle of glassy-eyed locals cautiously skirted round the fair and made their way into the Town Hall, where they became less cautious and began loudly voicing their opinions on the ‘rabble rousers.’ After a few minutes of shouting, the timid Mayor Mole - who had been trying desperately to blend into the background - feebly protested as he was shoved outside. He walked towards the frolicking strangers, looking wistfully back to the Town Hall at any opportunity, a reluctant sacrifice. Mr. Rodgers greeted the mayor enthusiastically, trying to hide his grin while the little man Mole sweated nervously, mopped his brow with a napkin, and played with the three strands of hair he combed over his bald, egg-like head. His weak excuses of, “Noise disturbance,” and, “Um. . .you lot really shouldn’t be here. . . please?” were laughed away and the poor fellow was dragged into a folk dance, eyes wide, terrified, as he was jerked around by colourfully-clad strangers chugging ale.
The villagers watched with baited breath through the frosted windows of the Town Hall, confused, as the mayor began to relax, resting happily on the arm of a scantily-dressed barmaid, whose honey blonde hair flowed down her shoulders and back. He chatted happily to the woman even though he only came up to her bosom. This may have been an advantage to him, as he had a full view of her voluptuous curves.
The farmers boldly left the hall and willingly joined the festivities, while the remaining villagers muttered indignantly to each other. Whooping was heard as a street party began, fiddlers playing furiously and minstrels singing ballads of loves long lost. Someone took out a ukulele, and there was a light-hearted debate as to whether this should be allowed as it technically didn’t fit the time period of the 1600s. Singing echoed through Snoozy Dip, as one by one, villagers snuck outside to revel with everyone else, until only the group of jam-ladies were left in the abandoned Town Hall, stewing in their own bitterness.
They were the middle-aged mothers of the village, plump and resplendent in straw hats and flowery frocks, but as stubborn as donkeys. Most of them owned some kind of country estate and were quite hoity-toity. Their husbands were often away on fishing trips, or doing business in the city, so they collaborated together, shunning outsiders or anyone they deemed lesser than themselves with their noses firmly held in the air. They usually used their influence to control Mayor Mole with an iron grip, manipulating all the council decisions in their favour. The new Renaissance Fair seemed suspicious and vulgar to them, as they strode out of the Town Hall and moved into the middle of the frolickers in a tight pack, singling out our quiet Mrs. Maclaren as their target, who had been peacefully minding her own business. For a few minutes they swarmed around her and sliced her to pieces with their tongues: belittling her about instigating the fair; insulting her appearance and status as a respectable citizen; along with aggressive threats that she could be kicked off the town council for this sort of behaviour.
This left the poor woman trembling, near tears as she anxiously kneaded the material of her outfit with her hands, her shoulders caving in shamefully. Mr. Johnson noticed this. Enraged, he sprang into action and his friends quickly followed, tension growing as swords were literally drawn. Even if the situation had gotten worse, it was doubtful the swords would have done any harm, as they were made from plastic, paint and foam. However, sensing a village civil war the mayor uncharacteristically stepped up between the two bristling groups, and turned to face the jam-ladies.
Throughout the evening, Mayor Mole had drunk rather too many shots of Dutch courage which now left him slurring through the announcement that Snoozy Dip would forever welcome the Renaissance fair. A cheer went up, more drinks poured out as the ‘respectable’ ladies steamed. Inwardly though, they rather enjoyed the fair, the reason being that it provided a target for their vitriol in the years to come. After all, it’s not every day a village is woken from slumber and a certain mayor finds a new hobby. . .