Monday, 22 August 2016

Showtime

Each summer, when I was a kid, my green-fingered gran would enter her blooms and various categories of produce into the local village shows. The fruits of her labours were judged and invariably won prizes. I suppose I must have been proud, but I was most likely distracted by the sights and sounds of village folk gathering to inspect the exhibits for themselves.

I have a pretty good memory for these kinds of events. Though it’s not photographic. Unless, of course, slightly out-of-focus, tilted-in-the-frame snaps count.

My gran (on the right) with her neighbour, Mrs Cooper, all dressed up for the Owlsbury Show.

A couple of things I recall, with great clarity. My great uncle Harry laying at full-stretch in the wooden box-cum-sidecar that my grandad used to carry his tools and goods in. On a trip to the Owlsbury show we followed grandad and Harry through the winding lanes, to the site where a considerable square yardage of off-white canvas had been carefully erected. Grandad, sat upright on his Triumph Thunderbird, and Harry reclining, his hands clasped behind his head, with the summer sun occasionally spotting through the leafy branches, lighting up his silver hair.

The second vivid image is that of my grandad stood talking to a man with a huge block of wood to one side of him. The surface of the wood was studded with nails. Some with their heads just above the surface, others bent double, and some brutally misshapen. I believe the idea was to drive home a six inch steel pin with three blows.

I begged grandad to have a go, and he did. The prize for successfully hammering the nail home, was sixpence. I’m guessing it was probably a penny for three blows. Anyway, the challenge was on. Grandad took a nail from the man and pushed the sharp end into the wood. Just enough to make it stand upright. Then he took the hammer and delivered an almighty blow. The block shook, the nail sunk to its middle into the wood, the man had lost his jovial smile. Another whack! This time there was only a small gap between the nail head and the wood. On the third strike, the nail was buried. The man dug deep into his trouser pocket and retrieved a sixpence. He handed it over to grandad and, in turn, grandad passed it to me.

I held on to that little coin tightly, for the rest of the afternoon, before it was tempted away from me in exchange for a bag of sweets.  

8 comments:

  1. Martin! This Is How It Should Be!Photography as an aide-mémoire, rather than an end in itself.
    6d rules!

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    1. Things we could get for a tanner, eh Tony?

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  2. What wonderful images you paint with words - I can see your great uncle travelling along in the dappled sunshine. Lovely!

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    1. Thank you. Sometimes those days come to me so clearly, Teresa.

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  3. Truly a lovely story, which brings back such great memories for me as well! Thanks so much.

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    1. Glad some of it resonated, Karen. Happy days.

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