Next Monday is Pack Monday, once a proper fair with horses and everything. Not any more. You would think that a town with Sherborne’s pretetensions, sorry, I mean pride in its past, would try for something a bit special. Maybe a medieval jongleur or street music. Interesting and colourful stalls. You’d be wrong. The most overpriced tat imaginable. Stalls selling fashion-disaster clothes as worn by illegal immigrants hidden in the back of a truck, but more expensive than Primark. Mexican food stalls presided over by couples who thought the franchise would help with retirement. It doesn’t. Worse, from another that sickly stink of stewed onions – ‘Wot people want, luv’ – served with a wedge of meat-flavoured grease. But it’s Pack Monday, it’s traditional and it ain’t gonna change. Most of the local shops shut up shop for the day and the pubs hire in serious muscle because even worse than the stalls are the people they attract.
They come down from the hills, nervous and defiant in their annual trip to the outside world. Some so fat they’re airlifted in by huge Russian helicopters because the roads would only shatter under the weight. Staring in amazement at anyone not wearing a track suit and trainers. Giving little cries of wonder at all the luxuries on show. It could be the annual outing of the Jeremy Kyle Show. Mmm. Is this where he finds them?
That said, I do get a certain kick out of Pack Monday. For one day a year the town’s genteel pretense is punctured by naked greed. Sherborne isn’t a haven. It doesn’t exist to promote a kinder, more civilized world. It’s there to make money, baby.
Anyway it can.