Sunday, 20 July 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year

This has been the most important weekend in the south-east London calendar. For this weekend it was the Lambeth Country Show, which is exactly what it promises to be – a country show just a few hundred yards from Brixton. Hay-on-Wye has books and Mariella Frostrup in wellies; Sussex has Glyndbourne; Goodwood has, like, Goodwood, which is apparently glorious. We have sheep-shearing, falconry displays, an eardrum-corroding sound system, owls, and the Labour Party selling bric-a-brac.

Where else would you see children milking a simulated wooden cow? Or hard-faced, shorn-skulled army cadets with tattoos on their necks enthusing over a stall selling fudge in all the colours of God's beautiful rainbow? All this at the same time as you're enjoying a wholemeal bap bursting with farm sausages.

Every year, I have two favourite attractions at the LCS. The first is the aforementioned display of owls, beatifically enduring their less-than-desirable working conditions… 

…except for this one, my favourite, and clearly the old lag of the troupe. I love the way he looks so entirely full of contempt, quite as if standing on a plinth and being stared at by people ambitiously dressed in shorts is so utterly, utterly beneath him.

I think the owl concession may have changed hands in recent years. All this year's owl wranglers were kindly elderly men. In a previous year, I swear I remember a satanically red-faced 50-year-old barking at a toddler to stand back because 'THIS BIRD COULD KILL A CHILD.' I think he was let go.

And then there is the tent where you can thrill! at the best onions in show, gasp! at the first-prize bonsai trees, swoon! at the most superior baking and cross-stitch, and – best of all – be amazed! by the finest fruit and vegetable modellers in Lambeth and surrounding area. Let us begin with the children's class:

The tiny tortoise family on the left of the frame was declared the winner, but if you ask me, this penguin was swizzed.

Meanwhile, first place in the grown-ups' classification went to this effigy of a modern-day icon:

It beat this ambitious recreation of The Magic Roundabout:

I can only assume the sculptors lost points for painting on Zebedee's features with Tipp-Ex.

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