It's the high-light of the town's year. What could go wrong?
| The Christmas Craft Fair
Margot always organised the town's Christmas Craft Fair. At least she had done for as long as I could remember. And, to be honest, it took a lot of organizing.
It was the highlight of the season for the town. Stalls would line both sides of the main street, selling everything that could be hand-made. There were cookies, candles, knitted sweaters and scarves, even wooden toys and vases. The Square would play host to local musicians, with speakers strategically placed to fill the entire town with sound. Many of the stores would stay open, ready to take advantage of the shoppers as they strolled from stall to stall making their purchases.
I loved the Craft Fair, but when Margot phoned on the day, to say she was ill, I was thrown into a panic. 'Would I take over?' she'd asked.
Me? I've got no organizational skills whatsoever, as I hastened to tell her. "But you don't need them," she'd coughed out. "The organizing is done. All you have to do is oversee it, make sure everything runs smoothly. There have never been any real problems."
Margot is one of those people that it's virtually impossible to refuse. With great reluctance, I had finally given in. "Okay, I'll do it. If you're sure there is no one else."
She had gone on to speak at length, interspersing her words with coughs and sneezes, and I had hastily scribbled notes. She was right; it really did not sound very daunting.
Wrapped up warm, I made sure I was there well before the Fair got under-way. I helped the various stall-holders set up, amazed at some of the goods that were on offer. Hand-made goods are always rather pricey, I'd found, but those on offer here were much more reasonable. I asked several of the stall-holders to put things aside for me; I couldn't actually buy anything until the Fair got started, for that would be cheating.
The Fair started at 5pm and would run until 8 o'clock. The street-lights lit up the stalls, and then there was the lighting from the windows of the stores behind. There was a magical glow to the scene and almost from the word go the Craft Fair was packed.
A local band plugged in their guitars and amps and played some rocked up versions of traditional songs; many of the shoppers and stallholders joined in with the singing, and there was definitely a spring in people's steps.
It was all going so well until the lights went out. Several people screamed as the sounds of the band died away. A blackout! Well, I couldn't have come across a problem worse than that, could I! What was I going to do?
Someone turned on their cell-phone light, and that gave me an idea. As I wove my way through the shoppers, I asked as many as I could to do the same. It wouldn't be a solution for long, but it might just give me a chance to put my plan into action.
I knew exactly where I was heading. The candle stall still had plenty of stock. How much for the lot, I'd asked, and had bought them all. I guessed I would have at least two candles for each stall, with perhaps a couple left over.
As the flames began to flicker, people began to move around from stall to stall once more. At least they had not all gone straight home, and the glow from the flames seemed to make the street even more mysterious and magical.
But what about the band? I walked over to them and had a whispered conversation. They took a bit of talking around, but in the end agreed to give my idea a go. Just singing and hand-clapping, the sound of which didn't travel too far, until more and more people joined in.
The power came back on with half an hour of the Fair left to go. There was still time to make those last-minute purchases, and the band, plugged in and powered up, were back in business.
It's strange how things worked out. From what looked to be a disaster, we all made an experience that was very special, and this would be a town Craft Fair that would be talked about and remembered for a good few years to come.