Mirabelle Classic Cars

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One "Fetefull" Day

Andrew Bywater tells a story of a day that turned out far better than expected.

"Doesn't look very promising", I said to my wife Judith as I peered through the bedroom curtains at a sky full of broken cloud driven by a strong breeze. We were planning to attend Penkridge Parish Church's (St. Michael's) summer fete, which is held at the Haling Dene Centre in the village. The event usually starts with a procession of classic cars and motor cycles accompanying the vicar, the fete queen and her attendants. A combination of indifferent weather and the fact that England were due to play Denmark in the World Cup suggested that the event may not be well attended. Part of my motivation was that I could show off our white Morris Minor Convertible dressed in bows and ribbons to try and generate a few wedding enquiries.

After a little discussion we decided not to allow ourselves to be put off and so with a packed lunch and the hood down we set off with our daughter Tammy on the rear seat. Almost immediately we felt glad that we had made the effort as, although the sky was dull, the air was warm, and the roads were quiet because of the match. Once outside of town we crossed part of Cannock Chase on the road towards Penkridge; an ideal road for a Moggy to cruise, and for us to take in the summer scenery. Presently we arrived at the assembly point outside St. Michael's Church.

One car was already there; a green M.G. T.C., one of my favourite cars; we were soon joined by other cars including another 3 M.G.'s of various types, an Austin 7, a V12 Jaguar "E-type" and a Morris Minor 2-door saloon. Whilst we were assembling we learnt that the half-time score in the England-Denmark match was 3-0, the day was getting better all the time! It was to get even better for us; the vintage lorry which was to carry the Fete queen and her attendants did not arrive as planned, which meant that as we were the only 4-seat open-topped car present, we were the obvious choice to convey them to the crowning ceremony, particularly as we were bedecked with ribbons. At the appointed hour the procession set off for the heart of the village.

Leading was a chap called Andy pedalling a Sinclair C5, followed by a group of cheer-leaders with red, white, and blue shakers, shouting "England Eng-err-land!" Then followed the vicar in the back of a 4x4 pick-up truck waving regally to his flock whilst wearing a Union flag bowler hat. The procession of classic cars came next with us in Mirabelle the Minor at the rear with a classic motorcyle as an out-rider. We proceeded down the main street of the village, which was all decked-out for the Jubilee celebrations with flags and banners. With the sound of Mirabelle's exhaust "parping" back at me from the buildings in the narrow street, my young charges waved enthusiastically at the crowds of onlookers. As we approached the pub, the second half of the football game was well under way and by the sounds exiting from the open door, England were still winning. It was at this point, caught up with the atmosphere of the event that I sounded the car horn in time to the returning chants of "England, England" from the public house.

Moving on through the village we continued on to the Haling Dene Centre waving at the villagers we encountered along the way. Upon arrival, I drew up in front of the building (which resembles a small town hall), with the other cars lined up providing a guard of honour. The girls disembarked and entered the building leaving me to park Mirabelle alongside the other cars in front of the neat lawns.

Happy now that I had completed my mission successfully, I heard that England had won the match 3-0 and were through to the last eight. At this point the sun came out from behind the clouds and shone down upon the gathering; "fete" was surely smiling upon us this day!

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