My View - Wednesday July 26 2017
It was Bingley Show this weekend and I'm feeling all nostalgic and just a little bit teary. I couldn't go because it was my niece's hen weekend in York, so I was busy knocking back prosecco in a hot tub, learning what 26 year olds do for kicks these days. But a part of me secretly wanted to be in bottom meadow at Myrtle Park, wellies on, watching the Holsteins hoof it round the ring.
It's all my late father's fault. I grew up in Bingley. I went to Bingley Grammar, learned to swim at Bingley Baths, had my first kiss at Bingley Tennis Club. But for as long as I can remember, dad was on the committee for the Bingley Show. I think he did pretty much every job going, from ticket collector to President.
In the weeks before, he was on constant weather watch as emergency plans were put in place for heavy showers. The house phone would be ringing off the hook with queries from Joan the secretary about stallholder costs or bouncy castle locations. Mum was on high alert to field calls from health and safety sergeants while I was dispatched to deliver posters to local shops.
My sister and I were roped in for bums-on-seats at the big marquee lunch. We were mainly there to bring the average age down. Then various grandchildren would be on parade to pick the winning raffle ticket or hand out flowers to the speakers. Dad's favourite speaker was the former British showjumping champion, Harvey Smith. He thought it was a real coup to get him.
After our four courses, it was a quick dash to the portaloos for a change of shoes and on to the craft tent, where someone was usually whittling a salmon from a tree stump. One year, mum actually bought a giant wooden fish, but dad varnished it wrong and it ended up looking like a phallus growing from a molehill in the garden.
Eventually, we'd weave our way down by the river to catch a bit of dressage or the dog and handler lookalike competition, before parking ourselves in the beer tent for the rest of the day. I'd always leave the show heavier than when I arrived, laden down with essential purchases like a banana guard or egg slicer. And even though we had the full mashings in the marquee, I've never knowingly exited without having had at least one hog roast sandwich and a bag of fudge for the road.
Last year, I couldn't bring myself to attend as dad had only been gone a few months. This year, I think he'd be happy to know his two daughters were helping one of his granddaughters celebrate her last few weeks of freedom. And next year? Well, with the wedding this September, there might even be a great-granddaughter on parade at Bingley Show 2018.