Thursday, 13 February 2014

Show Day! :)

I will try and distinguish one show day from a number of happy and busy show days. And just add in case I need to, that this was the village and area horticultural show, not the village fete that I also helped with.
I will try to focus on one particular show day but strands of memories from all show days may intrude, and memories are places.

Show day was not one day for me, and others, it was three days and more, because we started work on Thursday, setting up, for the pet show on Friday, the main show on Saturday and the Show Service on Sunday. There was also usually a barn dance in the marquee, I think that was Saturday night, but might have been Sunday.

We had to set up the smaller marquees, the markings and boundaries for stalls and cars, the 'roads' for car parking, the signs, the stalls, the arenas, the show tables, the hall, we had to prepare everything.

So we would start in the week before the show.
Everyone tended to know each other, and I often worked with an old chap who was reputed to be a chauvenist but never really came accross as one.
As he and I set up boundary posts with, hammering them in, he would always say to me (about the post) 'right, I nod my head and you hit it!' which is a funny joke like the Chuckle brothers used to do.

So we would all be very busy and happy, working and talking and the excitement was always building, one year the Parish also got me to do a bit of gardening by the hall to make it look neat for show day.

One time, I can't remember what happened exactly, but it started as a joke, someone was told to make sure they could drive through one of the small marquees but didn't realise it was a joke, and tried to, and knocked the marquee down.

Anyway, once the basic preparation was done, then the pet show was held on the Friday, and then we cleared away after that and continued to set up for the show, and again from early Saturday morning, while some of my friends would be putting the finishing touches on their show entries, my entries had to be finished and ready so that I could be at the showground and working.

The show didn't start until 1pm, but all morning, from early, stallholders and exhibitors were in, setting up, arranging their exhibits, and I would be helping any stallholder who needed help, to set up, as well as being on shout for any of the other workers if they needed help, it was tricky getting my own exhibits to the show and set up, and usually they ended up being minded by friends.

My first real show, a show such as described above, but the second show I had attended, I did my first exhibit, a floral art exhebition. It was my first entry, and I only did one that year, it won, and my friends got some stunning photos of it, and to me, this was like becoming real, being part of real life after the bleakness of my background, and as the years went by, the show entries increased and did well, just luck and chance you understand.

But my greatest and last show, I will describe.

I had been doing all the busy things as described above, and this was a year when I was competing with my friend, who was also my head gardener, my 'boss' if either of us thought that way, my mentor was a better description. I was busy at the showground from very early and so he was bringing both our lots of exhibits, in his car.

He had become friends with other friends of mine, through me introducing them, and so when he arrived with the exhibits, my friend shouted me, and I went to help him.
I think I was on car parking that year too.

Anyway, we were carefully moving the exhibits when between us, he and I managed to bump my glorious Coleus plant and knock a shoot off it, which was sad because it was a really perfect and beautiful plant.
Nonetheless, we tidied the damage and took the plant into the marquee, where we set up our exhibits.
Competing with my head gardener friend was to teach me better plantsmanship and how to show plants properly, he was a veteran of decades of award winning show entries, but he was a humble man and saw it all as enjoyment rather than competition, it was his hobby.

So, we set the exhibits up, and I left him chatting with my other friend and went back to my work, as the field got busier and everything got more stressful.

Here is a funny memory, one of my other friends was on car parking duty, as he usually was, he was a gruff man, but with a sense of humour, and when this shiny Bentley pulled up and a posh voice enquired 'Do OAP's get a discount?'  He shouted out 'No! They have to pay more!' :)

Anyway, the judges came in to judge the exhibits, and several of them were my horticulture tutors from college, but they didn't know which exhibits were mine, obviously.

But by the time I was taking trays of tea round to the stallholders, which was a tedious job, someone came running for me, apparently everyone was looking for me and I was wanted in the show tent.

'But what about the tea?'

Someone else took over the tea, and I went to the tent with everyone very excited and making a fuss.

When I got in the tent, I was told by very excited people, that my Coleus had won best in show, and what's more, my exhibits had got 100% first prizes.
There was a Hampshire Chronicle photographer there and so I was in the Hampshire Chrincle with my prize winning coleus and my cup, which to this day must still have my name inscribed on it, folled in the next two years, maybe more, by my head gardener friend's name.

I don't  remember much more after that, I was in a daze.
I went to collect my prize money and my friend's prize money, I went back with my other friends and had tee and a meal with them, at the end of the day when the show ground was clearing.

I do not remember if I went to the barn dance that year, but I probably helped with the show service the next day.

And then it was all over, for another year, maybe for me it was over forever, but the memories live on, and this is the real me, not the one-sided terrible image of me that has been created to protect wrongdoers.

Can we go round again, do it all one more time? Do it all one more time? All my friends there, not taken from me, and life full of joy and usefulness, wasnt it amazing? yes, it was amazing.


  1. Oh, how much I wish this era could all be restored to you, that a time machine could whisk you back to that day.

  2. Ah, life is a journey and it goes on, I am not the same person but I understand myself and others better now. :)
    However it would be nice to be free of the brand the diocese have put on me and be restored to being a useful part of the community rather than a fugitive who lives in fear.
    Tomorrow (Friday) Is the third anniversary of a police attack by the Bishop and Jane Fisher, which ended my hope of return to normal life.

  3. Hopefully you will get some way back to that sort of time. It is so heartening to read of such happy moments but also so sad.

    Do you feel that your writing about both the bad and the good parts of your life for a wider audience has been beneficial?

    You write so evocatively that your readers must surely share in the experiences.

    I notice, as well, your huge and quality following on Twitter, most of whom must surely read what you write here. Keep plugging it :)

  4. What the diocese have taken from me in community and relationships, in their selfishness and to cover up, can never be restored.
    I have to go on living and not think about it because it triggers such sadness, I dreamed about it all last night.