Ah the Village Show, a moment to shine, to show what you can do, to celebrate your success. Or a moment to look back on in years to come with a twingeing sensation in your arse at the shame and humiliation. As it looms at the weekend I can think back with some happy distance to my first show two years ago. I had great plans (I’m very good at this part of the process) and egged on by Mr Longsuffering’s silence, which I took to be evidence of his excited support, I filled out the entry form with a list a mile long. So long in face that I may have had to swipe another form from one of the other programmes-apologies if you got that one. Thankfully it’s a grand cost of 30p per entry so at least that prevented Mr Longsuffering’s eyebrows from completing their upward trajectory into his hairline. Of course, the best laid plans and all that. I hadn’t quite factored in my usual haphazard gardening skills which are best described as idleness interspersed with flurries of enthusiastic over-ambition. My carefully (alright not that carefully) nurtured red lettuce obligingly bolted the week of the show leaving the understudy lettuce which was underwhelming to say the least being about the size of a starving sparrow. My courgettes were delicious, so much so that some helpful slug had nibbled the end of each and every one of them just as Youngest is apt to do when presented with a plate of Bourbon biscuits. But I soldiered on and dug up a handful of carrots and grabbing my trusty scissors rushed around the garden with an hour to go gathering anything flowering which I thought Mr Longsuffering may not have noticed. These were hastily thrust into assorted vases and a teapot, yes a teapot which was a class and not my idea.
Meanwhile my scones were ready to come out of the oven and upon opening the door there they were in all their misshapen glory. I had been worried they wouldn’t be tall enough so I added a half teaspoon of baking powder and made them quite thick. Naturally this resulted in a wonderful rise, and an equally impressive fall as the tops lost their brave fight against gravity and slumped exhaustedly off to one side. I briefly considered purchasing some from the shop and sprinkling a bit of flour on top but decided this wasn’t quite in the spirit of things, and there wasn’t enough time.
Sweating buckets and trailing The Wailers behind me I bundled us in the car and hurtled off to the village hall to arrange all the entries before the doors closed. The hall was resplendent with assorted flower arrangements, giant vegetables and beautiful quilts. Having paid for all my entries and only brought approximately half with me I decided I couldn’t very well back out now so dutifully started setting out my meagre offerings. I hid the flower arrangement in a teapot at the back and hoped it wouldn’t be noticed. It’s garish filling was blushing almost as much as me by this point, not helped by the somewhat bumpy journey over the potholes. I laid my small and beautifully formed trio of Chantenay carrots down next to the orange sex toys that made up the rest of the class, Ann Summers would have been most impressed. Then had to hastily grab them and yank the leaves off as everyone else had neatly trimmed theirs.
My fuchsias floating in a bowl of water were stubbornly refusing to swim, opting instead to scuba dive whilst shedding a small flock of beetles which I spent a few minutes fishing out and surreptitiously sprinkling on a rival hydrangea on the next table. I dumped the least worst four scones among the pristine WI offerings with an air of defiance and finally helped Eldest display her offerings in the children’s section before returning home still trailing The Wailers for a bucket of tea with a gin chaser.
I then had to wait anxiously until mid afternoon before I could go and bask in glory. I used the time usefully recollecting that in our previous village a neighbour had been the sole entrant in the onion class and had been awarded second prize. Yes that’s second in a class of one.
Suffice to say I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory and I’ll never forget the sorry sight of my wilting mini lettuce on a table of giant perfectly formed hearts, or my size-doesn’t-matter carrots, but Eldest won a class and my hydrangeas beat off the beetle infested competition to win. Most importantly perhaps I had a better idea of what to expect and the following year we did considerably better, and entered considerably fewer classes! Competition week still results in the annual disappearance of Mr Longsuffering’s eyebrows and Saturday morning is always a sweat fuelled panic but on the plus side we’ll have enough preserves and biscuits left to keep us flirting with diabetes all summer.