I was with them, I confess. I had a million ‘Buts’ as to why we didn’t need to go. These included, but were not exclusive to, the fact that both boys were attending a two-hour putt-putt birthday party that same afternoon. Two hours of putt putt is enough to put them both into cranky pants territory – pulled up very high.The Builder, however, was keen. “It’s only once a year,” he wheedled.
Why yes, it is. But when you’ve been to about 15, they blur into one. Particularly when you can pretty much map in your head the location of each and every exhibit and attraction. Right down to the ‘House of Fun’, which was on its last legs when I was a teenager.
Then he played his last card. “The woodchop finals will be on.”
I love the woodchop. Love it. I remember my Dad taking us to some obscure field down the coast a bit when we were kids, specifically to see David Foster make chopsticks of a log in about 30 seconds flat. It was worth the journey.
And so we went.
First stop, the tractors for a quick clamber and ride. Then to the Fire Engines where Mr4 was totally indulged by a benevolent rural firefighting volunteer who spent ages going through every nook and cranny of the truck. I intervened when he was at the point of showing the over-excited Mr4 where the firefighters kept their sunscreen. Then both boys got to, wait for it, actually hold the firehose and spray water, thanks to a lovely friend of my Mum’s who also volunteers. I thought Mr4 was going to pass out from the thrill.
We went to the woodchop. Mr4 was fascinated. He wanted to sit there all afternoon. Another convert.
We wandered the muddy fields and tracks, dodging the swarms of teenagers strutting their stuff as the afternoon died and the evening came to life. Cut-off shorts – and I mean short – were the only trend to be seen and it was a rare girl under 20 who dared to try something else. Groups of girls, all Babylissed into clones of each other, each lash perfectly outlined in architectural mascara, met groups of boys with large Adam’s apples who looked as though they’d been standing in wind tunnels since breakfast. Against a backdrop of flashing lights, throbbing music and the incessant whoosh, whoosh of the Octopus, they stood about awkwardly, preened, flirted a little and walked on.
So has it ever been, so it will always be.
I sat watching young men hurl themselves up ramps on motorbikes, wondering how their mums coped with sitting through such a show each night, but more interested in why hot chips that have been sitting in a Show food van for potentially hours always taste so good. Salty. Vinegary. Delicious.
We played the requisite game on the Clowns. Mr4 won a prize with his 16 and chose a fluorescent green shark with a wicked smile. He wanted to give it back when he saw the glitzy plastic Samurai sword that Mr7 was given for, essentially, losing.
At Mr4’s insistence (okay, mine), we went back to the woodchop on the way out. Four father-and-son combos contested heat one of the RMB Lawyers Cross cut Sawing. The winners proved that size is not everything when it comes to sawing. Mr4 was in raptures. He would have stayed all night.
“Fancy taking up the cross-cut saw?” I asked The Builder. His return glance was thoughtful.
We left the Show with two glow-in-the-dark light sabres (Mr7, without prompting, bought himself and his brother one each with his pocket money, which was worth the price of admission). One was broken within hours.
At preschool on Monday, Mr4, with his friends The Kings, played woodchop.