Little Otterton's Midsummer Fair

The morning sun sparkled down over the village of Little Otterton. The postman was beginning his rounds, birds chirruped happily in the hedgerows and there was a palpable air of excitement hanging over everything, like the village itself was holding its breath.

Today was the day of the midsummer fair.

Crisp, bright bunting danced in colourful ribbons through the air around the Green, and striped tents waited anxiously around the edge. The centre of the Green, as always, was reserved for the displays of the prize vegetables, the highlight of the day. The broad tables stood bare and expectant, ringed with Mrs Boverly-Robinson’s exquisitely crocheted flowers.

Larry was possibly the most excited man in the village today. He padded out to the greenhouse to look at his triumph. His day had finally come. There was no way Mr Boverly-Robinson could top this beast, Larry was certain his would be the biggest marrow - no, the biggest vegetable at the show.

It had taken him and Jacob, his eldest, to lift it into the wheelbarrow and the two of them had battled the uneven roads and lumpy grass to install it anonymously in pride of place on the table. No-one had seen them and with a grin of satisfaction, Larry slipped away to await the judging at home.

Midday and the green was awash with pretty dresses and rolled up shirt sleeves, sticky-faced children and courting couples. The air rang with the clack of balls hitting coconuts and the ring of the high striker. Larry strode confidently to stand with the others and hear the verdict.

A thrill of delight coursed through him when the judge pinned a bright red ‘1st’ ribbon onto his marrow, but before he could stand to claim his prize, he realised that someone else was standing up there already. They were shaking the judge’s hands and smiling for the photographer from the paper.

It was Mr Boverly-Robinson! Taking credit for his marrow!

“Oi!” Larry shouted “That’s not your marrow, it’s my marrow!”

Mr B-R turned a nonchalant gaze on Larry that oozed wealth and sophistication.

“Dreadfully sorry old chap, but I don’t think so. Brought it here myself this morning and dashed heavy it was too.”

A ripple of laughter.

The audacity. The outrageousness of it! Larry was so angry he didn’t hear the whisper at his side

“Larry, he does it every year - that’s why he always…”

But Larry was up. He marched forward, picked up a smallish pumpkin and brought it down smartly over Mr B-R’s smug head.

A shocked silence rippled around the crowd. Then Larry picked up tomatoes and one by one pelted them at the pumpkin-covered man’s face.

Pulp and juice flew everywhere and in a moment - nobody could quite remember how or when - the crowd suddenly found itself flinging giant vegetables at one another, smearing, splattering, wiping, mashing - an orgiastic explosion of vegetables in the middle of the Green.

Later on Mr B-R, still covered in pumpkin and tomato and a few other vegetables besides stood everyone a pint of cider, including Larry, and thus the Little Otterton Vegetable Flinging tradition was born