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July 24, 2007 > Across the Pond

Across the Pond

Spitfire Prom

By Frances Payne

The Spitfire Plane, a magnificent working relic from the 2nd World War, roared overhead. How we shouted and waved our Union Jack flags in support and appreciation of its impressive loops and rolls, courtesy of stunt pilot Charlie Brown. I was one of 8,000 happy picnickers, setting up our tables and lanterns in the beautiful grounds of nearby Belton House, eagerly anticipating the splendid and stirring annual Spitfire Prom.

What a fabulous night! A rare sunny break in the deluge of rain and flooding we've been suffering enabled us to unpack our goodies, eat, drink and thoroughly enjoy the rousing music provided by the English Symphony Orchestra. At 5 p.m. we were laying out the tables and chairs, by 10pm we were singing along to the final pieces of Nessum Dorma and cheering the spectacular firework display accompanying the 1812 Overture. We reluctantly let them finish at about 10 30, and finally got out of the car park at midnight. Ever tried directing approximately 3,000 cars out of muddy fields along a single track? It was so worth it. On our way out we passed a bride...a bride! Complete with white dress and entourage. The newlyweds had decided to spend their wedding night at the Prom. "What cheapskates!" joked the compere when he announced the situation during the concert. "Fancy having a wedding reception where the guests all bring their own food!"

How lucky we were to have had practically the only sunny Saturday evening in the whole of our summer. However, in every situation, event and occasion, there are winners and losers. Definite winners during this season of constant downpours and gloom, have been Wellington boot manufacturers and Newark's newly opened 5 screen cinema. How fortunate for them that Newarkers are desperately seeking indoor venues for entertainment, particularly now the school holidays have started. Three thousand eager cinema goers kept the traditional-style usherettes busy with their trays of ice cream the opening weekend.

One of the first films on offer was, unsurprisingly, the latest Harry Potter. Has Harry Potter mania reached Newark California? Long, long queues have snaked their way through the streets of London, all through the night, as keen Potterites have waited to be one of the first to lay their hands on the latest and last Harry Potter book. As fans queued, many dressed as characters from the books, J.K. Rowling herself was reading the opening chapter live to a selected audience at the British Natural History Museum. If ever there was an advert for the saying, "Never give up," it's this lady. She endured the soul destroying rejections of several publishers before one accepted her first manuscript and started the multi million pound phenomenon that is Harry Potter. No doubt those first publishers are now feeling similar to those at the record labels who rejected the Beatles!

Guess what? Newark's infamous commemorative glass arch is finally to be erected.....after five years. The dismissal of the market place location was followed by foundations being dug in the grounds of Magnus School. This site was also duly abandoned. So, aforementioned arch should finally make its public debut on 31st of July......somewhere. You can only imagine the heated discussions that have gone on behind the scenes. Will Newark youth be able to resist climbing on the newly erected structure, spraying it with graffiti, and generally imperiling the glass, themselves and anyone around? I'll keep you informed.

Taking even longer, much longer than five years, is the proposed dualing of the main, heavily used road, between Newark and Nottingham. It might appear quaint to be traveling behind a tractor merrily chugging along, but not when you're on your way to work or some other important destination. And prepare yourself for a long wait or a re-routing through all the picturesque surrounding villages, taking you miles out of your way if there is ever an accident; which is quite frequent, usually because of people trying to get past quaint chugging tractors! It is a pity we have to live at such a fast pace, but such is life, even in "Little old Newark England".

Yours damply

Frances

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