Margaret Smith wrote this vivid poem about 20 years ago. Every element in it comes up in the film, or in the memories or photos people have contributed. Her words emphasise a market’s crucial role as a social and news-gathering occasion, both then and now.
Now Wednesday is surely the highlight of the Herefordshire Farmers’ week,
They brush up their boots, discard the old cap, and set off, looking really quite neat.
Some go to the town in the lorry, with sheepdog stowed into the back,
Some go in the car with the trailer behind and with Mother dressed up in her hat.
As they all congregate on the City, the tempers begin to fray:
“Damn Gas Board has got half the road up, we’ll have to go round t’other way!”
“We’ve parked in Merton Meadow,” says Nell to her sister-in-law Flo,
“I’m just on my way into Jessons, to buy some new vests for our Joe.”
“Oh, I’m off to the Butter Market,” Flo replies to Nell,
“We’ve had a wonderful crop of new mushrooms and I’ve brought a few in here to sell.”
“My word, lamb trade looks bad,” old Jim says, as he hitches his braces right up,
“Here, Fred, put £5 in your pocket, and remember I owe you some luck.
“Let’s pop in the Tavern and have one, we’ve plenty of time today,
“And for God’s sake don’t let’s argue about which one is going to pay.”
There’s not much you can’t get from the Market, if you take a good look round the stalls,
There’s china, fine linen and produce, and knick-knacks to hang on the walls.
One stall sells most beautiful pictures, another, electrical things,
One’s filled up with glassware and dishes, and then there’s the watches and rings.
Much news is exchanged on a Wednesday, weddings and funerals discussed,
“Will one of his sons take over?” and “Which is the bank you can trust?”
Oh yes, the gathering news on a Wednesday is an absolute, ABSOLUTE MUST!
If you sit yourself down on a Wednesday, and watch what goes on in the Ring,
You’ll be entertained really quite freely, as the Auctioneer’s voice starts to sing.
For a farmer to part with his money is a painful and terrible thing –
If you make a bad deal in the Market, it’s looked on, at home, like a SIN!
The faces they pull are so funny, when bidding on sheep or on cows,
They wink, scratch, they pull on one ear, or some just raise up their brows.
I’m sure we’re all proud of our Market, it’s something that’s always been there,
Let’s hope Powers That Be don’t park it way out in the country somewhere.
We pray that it goes on forever, for those who are yet to be born,
To lose it would not be too clever, our forebears would look down with scorn.
Oh yes, Wednesday is really the highlight of the Herefordshire farmer’s week,
You’ll see him a-doing his business, in trilby, or bobble, or peak.
We must show respect to our farmer, and listen when he starts to speak,
Say “Yes” or say “No” just to please him, and keep a still tongue in your cheek.
If you play your cards right with a farmer, your days will be joyful and sweet.