Cream teas and Cuban-Congolese fusion
School fetes bring out best in local families
The beginning of June saw the celebration of Volunteers’ Week and the astonishing figure from the Home Office that 28 million people offer their services one way or another each year. Much is made of the lack of community spirit and the “me generation”, but there were few signs of that in sunny playgrounds all over Ealing last Saturday. I spent the afternoon at Little Ealing Primary School’s football-themed Summer Fete, where hundreds of people were enjoying the results of weeks of work behind the scenes.
Anyone coming to the Fete in a football shirt got a free ride, which led to a colourful display of shirts from Brazil, France, Italy, Portugal and, of course, England, amongst others. The multi-cultural feel was enhanced by Grupo Lokito, who brought an upbeat and sunny fusion of Cuban and Congolese sounds, with African-Latin dance moves. The band come from a culture where dancing is joyous and spontaneous, so it’s hard to play in front of an audience in Britain that doesn’t seem to show much sign that they’re listening. All except a brave group of girls, that is, who couldn’t resist lining up to try out their best moves, a little self-consciously, but with more nerve than the rest of the crowd. The recently-established band plays to packed audiences in the African underground scene, and are recording an album.
Band-member Sarah said,
“We’re so lucky in London – the diversity of musicians is amazing, and we should celebrate that!”
They like playing community events, and Sarah runs music and dance workshops for schools. Next year she’d like to see even more people up dancing, and given how popular the band was, her wish may come true.
It’s not just parents who give these events a local focus. Schools have become very proficient at making contact and links with businesses both local and farther afield. The list of contributors is impressive, with parents calling in favours from every direction. Little Ealing’s prize possession this summer was a signed shirt from John Terry, which given World Cup fever, was lusted after by children and adults alike. Local businesses can benefit, such as the butcher who supplied hundreds of high quality sausages and burgers. It’s not just local businesses who contribute; the staff and parents give a huge amount of their own free time. But it’s not all hard work; the time spent humping tables or battling with the bunting gives people the time to get to know each other better and have a laugh together. Next time you bump into your fellow raffle ticket folder on the way to work, you might just stop to say hello and pass the time of day, or even, heaven knows, sit next to them on the tube
Amid the current football fever, there was more than a hint of nostalgia, most noticeably in the offer of cream teas and Pimms amongst the sweets and crisps. It’s hard to beat home-made scones and clotted cream on an English summer’s day. Scone-baker Smita offered this advice, “They are so quick and easy to make, but the secret’s in the mixing – use a knife and mix as little as possible”. Others on a trip down memory lane are the teenage ex-pupils who come back; you see the children you remember as 8 year olds now growing up. That’s part of the appeal of school fetes – the familiarity of the traditional and the energy of the new.
My recommendation; try a school fete to re-live that sense of identity and belonging. Just don’t try combining a cream tea with the tea cups ride…
July 14, 2006