I was at Beyond the Fringe this morning as I was helping with the setting up tomorrow’s fair in the afternoon. When I told Acton, his comment was, “Oh honestly darling, why do they always have tea stalls at fairs? If they’re looking to raise money wouldn’t they do better offering glasses of wine as well?”
“You can’t offer wine at a church hall fête,” I said, “it’s just not done. Besides it’s Saturday morning to early afternoon. People don’t want to be drinking alcohol at that hour of the day – most people, I added seeing the look on his face.
“Don’t you believe it,” he said. “You’d bunce the takings up nicely if you offered a nice chardonnay or a decent merlot. It’s just so inevitable Cleo – so unimaginative and parochial.”
“Well, we are parochial,” I said. “We’re a rural parish. People expect that sort of thing.”
“They’re conditioned to,” he protested and then a wicked smile passed over his face. “I’d love to see Eleanor Snailbeach as a cocktail waitress – wouldn’t you? That gleam as she trots round in a little black number bearing a tray of martinis and Manhattans.”
“You’ve got a terrible imagination,” I chided him, laughing.
“That’s the point darling – I am imaginative. Much more than St Gremlins’ church hall will ever be. I’d rather have a Bath Oliver with some warm brie than an egg sandwich any day. Too gloomy by far.”
There wasn’t a great deal for me to do with the setting up. Graham had taken time from the farm to help Mr Colebatch with the large trestles while the smaller ones were put up by the others. Faith and I simply had to arrange the urn and cups and saucers on the oilcloth tablecloth and manoeuvre the usual tea sign above it. Eleanor was floating around not doing an awful lot except making observations with a smile. I suddenly found myself thinking of Acton’s comments and imagining her in her dress with a tray of drinks and let out a little laugh.
“What’s tickled you?” Faith asked.
I told her and she too gave a snigger. “Mind you, she’d suit that better than being a barmaid and pulling pints. I definitely don’t see her doing that.”
As we laughed over it, Eleanor came trotting over.
“Ah, such levity,” she said. “What’s the joke?”
“We were laughing at the idea of serving tea and coffee,” I said, desperate for something to say. “How much funnier it would be if we were serving beer.”
She gave a funny little smile, not surprisingly failing to find it funny and shrugged and turned away.
Faith and I fell about laughing at that.