Country market blacked out

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Business as unusual

The queue at Friday morning’s Country Market was longer than ever this Friday, and shoppers were shocked to discover how the market had been blacked out. Not only at the entrance (looking like the morning after the night before) but also in the main hall, where ceiling to floor black drapes made it feel like shoppers were entering a cavern. But the usual stalls were all there, and all the flowers had gone (as can happen) before the end of the queue even got into the Community Centre’s hall.

The morning after
The morning after

But, on their way in, there were lots of clues to what was going on, with T-shirts, placards and programmes for the Jazz Festival (which started Thursday night). And, of course, the answer was that the Community Centre had been re-invented as the Spectrum Jazz Lounge with vocalist, pianist and songwriter Theo Jackson as the opening attraction.

Needless to say, jazz goes down better with a drink or two so the Community Centre’s entrance in Conduit Hill (particularly as the bar is on the way in) looked like one might expect a club to look the morning after. However that is not how the Country Market (originally known as the WI market) normally looks as it serves tea and cakes (as it did today) in the centre of the blacked-out hall.

But the shoppers (and many are regulars, there week after week) stolidly ignored their unusual surroundings and focused on the home-made curries and cakes, garden produce of all sorts, and local foods of all kinds – including jams, sauces and sausages – as well as local cards and knitwear. All that will have gone by tonight (Friday), though, as the lounge again re-opens for business with two sessions, Hardlines from 8-10pm and then Gwyneth Herbert from 10:30pm-2am.

Photos by Kenneth Bird