Graham Turner: Mixed memories of the County Show

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Suffolk is so lucky to have such a successful county show – as we reported last week – at a time when others are really struggling and even falling by the wayside.

It’s a great opportunity for the farming community to show off the best it has to offer, not only to other country dwellers but to the townsfolk who benefit from their endeavours.

For many years the mere mention of a county show sent a shudder down my spine – thanks to a terrible day which could have brought my then fledgling career in journalism to a very premature end.

For our county show – a modest one-day affair – more or less the whole office decamped to the show ground where the press tent was furnished with trestle tables, which creaked and bowed under the weight of our huge typewriters, and old wooden folding chairs seemingly designed to nip your fingers off. Each member of the team was given tasks to carry out and, as the most junior reporter, it was my job to collect and collate all the show results – livestock classes, show jumping, cage and aviary birds, WI, pigeon fanciers, flowers, vegetables . . . the lot.

By the end of a long, hot, sticky day, I’d amassed a huge pile of results ready to hand over to the sub-editors the next morning. As the crowds thinned, we packed up our cars (I had the use of the office Mini) and set off home.

It was only as I pulled up outside my parents’ house that, with a terrible jolt, I realised I had left all the results in the press tent.

In a cold sweat, I raced back to the show ground, parked the car and dashed to where the press tent . . . had been!

All that was left was an area of greasy, flattened grass – the clearing up had begun.

The cold sweat turned to a feeling of real dread. Our editor was not known for his charitable disposition and I was terrified of what he’d say (and do). What was I going to tell him?

As you can probably guess by the fact that I still work in newspapers, there was a happy ending. One of the workmen who took down the tent was more on the ball than I was and handed the sheaf of results over to the show secretary, who seemed to enjoy my predicament rather too much as he gave them back to me .

Since that day, I’ve preferred to visit shows as a punter rather than on an assignment.