By “The Photographer’s Assistant”
This is the event of the year. The Photographer carefully selects a camera.The Assistant carries one bag. We are walking into the small town to get the free bus to the annual agricultural show. At the bus stop we have a chat with those waiting. It’s an immensely sociable event.
It is not every day that we all have a day off together and as we set off, we feel sorry for the local shop keepers, who feel compelled to stay open for the tourists, someone has to give them a coffee.
It is a short trip to the big event. The show ground is packed and the event gets bigger every year. There is a riot of colour and the sun has come out to greet us all. This year, there is a ferris wheel, which gleams in the sun, its bright colours speak of fun and laughter. The robust country children are jostling for a position in the queue.
We go first to the food tent, where our daughter and companions are doing a roaring trade in one corner. They are all too hot as they had set off for the show in rain. We find a supplier of tea with a large supply of piping hot water and purchase four teas for the melting ones in the corner. It would be a lie to say, as you know, that the Photographer and I are uninterested in food. Having done our duty with the tea, we set off on a preliminary run around the stalls, all of which are beautifully decorated in the style of The Great Bake Off (this is absolutely our most favourite program, where we spend a whole hour debating the finer points of Mary Berry cuisine). As I am writing this indeed, the Photographer is taking the cooking of a half lamb shoulder very seriously indeed. However, back to the show. It is decided that the large slices of chocolate cake, filled with lashings of butter cream for only £1.99 are an absolute must, and, of course, the pies bronzed and stuffed with meat and herbs will be purchased towards departure, enabling The Photographer’s hands to be free to practise his art.
The Photographer and the dog set off at a brisk pace around the rest of the show, the Assistant dawdling behind, disappointed in her search for the favoured local ice cream supplier, who appears not to be here. The Photographer meanwhile has found our local meat man, who is roasting three pigs as fast as he can go. Despite all this work, he is looking cool and sauve in his outfit and knowing The Photographer to be a bit of a pig enthusiast, he is offering him a large hunk of perfect crackling, which the Photographer eats with great enthusiasm and interest. It is therefore, decided, not least by the Dog, that we should all have a pork roll embellished with apple sauce for lunch. There is an phenomenal queue at the meat counter for the rest of the day. Do not go to a local agricultural show if you are a veggie, you will find it a very upsetting experience, even if you do love the woolly rare breed sheep.
The Photographer now turns his attention to the vintage machinery, a great love of his, to be honest, a great deal of it experienced in person in the late sixties, and early seventies when he was involved in some of its design. The Photographer’s Assistant, meanwhile yawns her way around as elderly gentlemen go to sleep in small chairs by their exhibits and some debate the finer points of a Ford versus an Allis Chalmers tractor.
There are a number of vintage cars, which claim to have been the main stars of some television series. The Assistant is sure that this cannot be so having personally lusted after some of the male and very human stars of these programs. The Photographer hangs up with a mate, who is going to “do‘“ the electrics on his bike. The Dog rudely pees over one of the car’s wheels and the Assistant disgraces herself by not even stifling a yawn. The Dog and Assistant are led away, quite rightly, in disgrace.
Things liven up at the tea stall again, when the Assistant’s eyes alight upon a friend and her husband in the queue. Hugs ensue and the girls are just getting into their stride when the meeting is called to a halt, a hot dog is wanted by intelligent grandchild, and the stall doesn’t sell them.
To the beer tent, where the beer is clearly rapidly selling out. Familiar faces serving behind the counter are clearly at full stretch. We are pleased that business is so good. We meet more people and more of the girls. The Photographers Assistant hears about a Wag’s night out while all the males give forth on the best route to Scotland, fully briefing the Photographer on an impending trip.
Finally, purchases made, The Photographer, the Assistant and the Dog make their way to the bus stop, but on the way, the Dog pulls his way to the vet’s tent, where he has spotted his favourite attractive young assistant. He is bent on a mission. He has a large drink of water and a stroke with the only person who has ever understood him. The Photographer and the Assistant are indulged in a large glass of Pimms, (this might reflect the vet’s bill that the Photographer has just received, the dog being a hypochondriac of some renown).
Contentedly, even the Dog having met his favourite person from the tiny town, the little party, the Photographer clutching two pies and the Assistant two enormous slices of cake, make their way sleepily home, where the cake is eaten, and at a decent interval, the pie is swilled down with good Devon ale. The threesome sleep soundly,dreaming of sun and friends until a new day dawns.