Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Owls and aubergines

Back at the Lambeth Country Show, the competitive baking, the Mr Whippee vans, the alpacas, the sheep-shearing, the dubious crafts, the bowel-bothering, bass-heavy sound systems, the medieval jousting and the sheepdogs chasing herds of ducks up and down a miniature slide are all just so many support acts before the two main attractions:



Vegetable sculpture.

Malheureusement, it was not a good weekend for owls. Humans cannot perform thrilling aerial acrobatics when it's gusty, and nor can owls. In addition, they have a peculiarly sensitive artistic temperament, particularly when it comes to the big occasion. "Look at Tiger," said the owl wrangler, in a strong West Country accent, of one of his starlets. "He's a bag of nerves. He's never flown in the big arena before."

If you ask me, Tiger had had enough of his human sidekick giving out cheap, crowd-pleasing chat like this: "Right, kids. Who likes to go to McDonald’s? Who likes burgers? Chicken McNuggets? Yes? Well, owls would like to go to McDonald’s if it was RAW.’

Here is Tiger, his face bleak with contempt.

Meanwhile, in a tent on the other side of the park, red-hot vegetable modelling action. You might expect that the recent demise of Michael Jackson had inspired many artistic endeavours. You would not be wrong.

Yet neither will you be surprised to learn that the judges were not to be swayed by the gimmick of topicality. Here is the more classically inspired victor:

But wait. What is her hair made of? IT IS MADE OF WOOL. Instant disqualification, surely, and a failure of imagination on the part of the artist for not turning to some moulding asparagus, for example, to give similar colour and texture.

Here is second place. Excellent use of engraved watermelon to provide a tortoiseshell effect:

And here is third, apparently a tribute to Wilf Lunn, at least in terms of facial hair. I could not say if Wilf smokes a pipe.

But let us not forget the children, as they are our future. Teach them to make vegetable animals well, and let them lead the way. Also be there to mop their tears when one of their creations literally falls off its perch [below, extreme right].

I would also like to highlight the show's competitive floristry wars, with one category of exhibits themed around a West End musical.

Here is 'Cats'. You can see that the artist has used a china cat to suggest the musical Cats, and also a card that says Cats on it.

And here is 'Wicked'. Thrillingly, at the edge of the frame, you can catch a glimpse of one of the tent's security personnel, tensed like a jungle cat, ready to pounce at the first sign of a riot. The crowds at the Flower Show can be large and unruly, particularly in front of the vegetable modelling entries, where there's more push and shove than the opening of Primark Marble Arch. You may think that the cord around the security agent's neck is attached to her glasses. It is actually holding a lightweight Taser.

Finally, if you are moved to enter a category at next year's show, might I suggest marrow growing? Look at the sole entrants, and the over-ambitious table space that has been allotted to their no-show rivals.

They look as glum as the last two marrows to be picked for marrow football.


helpmedarling said...

you are just about my favourite writer in the world. (i include my friend becks in that, and she's really good.)

Miss Jones said...

Wow, thank you Darling. Does Becks know you've said that?

helpmedarling said...

no. the betrayal would be too great.

helpmedarling said...

(i didn't think this username thing through properly, did i? i suddenly feel as though i'm in blackadder goes forth...)

Sean James Cameron said...

Are you entering the Lambeth show this year? Maybe we could feature you on our TV show www.thehortchannel.tv