By Dave Roberts
Like so many others up and down the country our town holds a 'Makers Market' each month in the main street where exotic foodstuffs, quirky pottery, three-dimensional greetings cards and suchlike ephemera are sold to an eager public.
The end of January being somewhat bleak, cold and rainy, the organisers decided to try to boost trade by engaging the services of one of those country & western singers. The sort that has a little karaoke thingy with backing tracks and sings,with a guitar slung round his neck and a cowboy hat on his head, about how his lover done him wrong and his heart ain't never gonna mend and so on.
Truth to tell, he was a bit of a forlorn sight standing underneath his rain-lashed little gazebo trying to evoke visions of Tennessee and Texas in a Wolverhampton accent.
We walked past him and, as you do, told ourselves we wouldn't put anything in his little collecting tin 'just yet' but see if he'd improved any when we walked past him on the way back.
We went off for a coffee and a bacon butty, leaving him to tell the world in song about the fact that since his Momma done left him he had cried enough tears to float a Mississippi river boat, or something.
A likely story, we thought.
We refreshed ourselves, took in the rest of the market and made our way back down the street towards his lonely pitch.
And when we reached him again, he was - without a word of a lie - halfway through singing 'The Ballad of Barry and Freda'.
We put some money in his little collecting tin.
VICTORIA WOOD SINGS 'THE BALLAD OF BARRY AND FREDA'
© Dave Roberts/Salt Town Productions 2017
28th January 2017
Originally posted on Facebook on the Victoria Wood Quotations and Archers Anonymous Groups
Note: I've used a little bit of artistic licence here. This piece was specially written for the Victoria Wood Quotations Group. The story's true, but the singer in question was actually very good and the awful country & western lyrics I've quoted were made up by me. The fact that he sang The Ballad of Barry and Freda, though, is absolutely true.
This first appeared on THE ODD EXCEPTION on 28th January 2017