As the seasons turn in this north Yorkshire village, so we move from celebrating May Day complete with choreographed pole dancing (!), Feast (without the preposition, just Feast!) in the summer, through to Halloween, Remembrance Sunday and then to the Pantomime.
Each year, it is a joyfully hilarious celebration of gutsy singing, terrible jokes, audience participation, amazing costumes - especially for the dame - and sums up a great deal of what village life is about. Otherwise perfectly normal people paint false moustaches, dress up as members of the opposite sex, slap thighs and take custard pies... well, on the chin. The effort that goes into this is truly phenomenal and if it runs to nearly the length of The Ring Cycle, then so be it.
Normally the final night of the Panto would have been this Saturday but because two cast members of Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates - namely Robinson Crusoe herself and one of the aforementioned Pirates - will be joining us at The Wedding, the Panto started a day early in order to release them for our own celebration. So it would have been churlish not to go along last Friday. Actually it would have taken several wild horses for us to miss it. Who can forget the multitude of nearly completed costume changes by the dame - great wiggle in the Beyonce dress, I thought! Or the orange starfish, or indeed the tightness of the trousers of one of the cricket team... Enough drama to sustain us until our own drama begins this weekend. Or so we thought...
Waking up with excruciating chest pains and an inability to breath at 1.00am that night was not in the plan. I eventually managed to sit up and call my beloved for help. If I said it was frightening I don't think fear actually entered my head. I was too busy trying to breathe against the tightening across my chest and upper arms. My beloved suggested he call the dancing doctor (married to the singing doctor who had been slapping her thigh as Robinson Crusoe earlier in the evening). I nodded, because it was hard enough to breathe, let alone speak. Within a very few minutes (he must sleep with his clothes on) he was there, taking my pulse - 'weak, thready' and taking in my obviously not-looking-my best appearance. Hospital, he pronounced. My beloved immediately said he would take me. I was breathing somewhere near normally by now but not taking much part in events. No, paramedics, now.
OK, I am now alert enough to be panicking myself and all I can see is my beautiful outfit for my beautiful daughter's beautiful wedding hanging on the front of the wardrobe. I might not get to wear this... (My number 1 daughter who read this in draft form would like me to point out here that it was not because I thought I was dying but more worried about how long I might be hospitalised for.) Don't let anyone tell you that the NHS is not brilliant in a crisis. Fifteen minutes later, my bedroom (not that big) is populated by me, my beloved, the dancing doctor, 3 paramedics and a machine rather larger than a microwave which has enough wires for broadband attached to various parts of me.
Now although nothing like this has ever happened to me before, I was feeling a bit of a fraud by now, but no amount of pleading was going to stop the paramedics taking me to hospital for what turned into a night of blood tests and chest x-rays. The long and short of it being that everything came back negative and although I've felt poorly for a few days I am now starting to feel better in time for the big day.
So thank you to the cast of thousands who made the panto so brilliant (see it if you can...) and to a similar sized cast who made sure that I am going to make it to the wedding - although it's only Thursday and so much could yet go wrong... The NHS is wonderful, everyone who looked after me here and at Harrogate Hospital was absolutely fantastic and worth every penny and more that we pay in tax.
So just a case of really bad timing? Oh no it isn't... Oh yes it is!
I wrote this last week before The Big Day which turned out to be the most wonderful, happiest weekend of my life so far. But you'll have to wait for the blog which may turn out to be of similar epic proportions to the aforementioned panto!!