Royal Norfolk Show: Pigs, tractors and pointless free stuff

PUBLISHED: 01:42 26 June 2012 | UPDATED: 01:45 26 June 2012

Pork life: Livestock on display at the Royal Norfolk Show.

Pork life: Livestock on display at the Royal Norfolk Show.

Archant © 2011

It’s the Norfolk Show this week and I’m the official Archant roving reporter gathering news in the same way I used to gather paper baseball caps, stickers and plastic bags full of tat when I visited as a child.

This, combined with some other important jobs that I could tell you about but won’t because they might not sound important enough, means there won’t be a column next week. Don’t blame me, blame Norfolk’s agricultural heritage.

The Norfolk Show has always been part of my life, having grown up in the green, verge-filled country idyll of Old Costessey, which once a year hosts the festival of rurality.

When I was at Costessey High School, the Norfolk Show was hugely popular.

This had nothing whatsoever to do with the celebration of our Fine County’s agricultural bounty and everything to do with the fact that everyone was given two days off school so that we could go and look at a few tractors and pen after pen of Sunday dinners on legs. The other excuse given was that it was dangerous for pupils to walk to school when so many heavy lorries were travelling through the village to the showground.

It was the first, and last, time that school staff pretended they wouldn’t be delighted if a few of us were carried off by a passing combine harvester or mown down by a horse box.

The show was the closest Norfolk came to Glastonbury when I was a teenager and, in the spirit of anarchy, it was a rite of passage to breach the security operation and perimeter fence to gain access to the event without paying.

In reality, this involved stepping over an inadequate piece of fuse wire straight into the showground, but it still felt as if we were sticking it to The Man.

Back then, the show was like the most disappointing zoo in history – cows, pigs, sheep and a few bored-looking goats. If you weren’t looking at a cow, pig, sheep or goat, you were looking at a tractor. If it wasn’t a tractor, it was a Land Rover. If it wasn’t a Land Rover, it was someone posh stuffed into a tweed suit and wearing a ridiculous hat. We only went for the pointless free stuff handed out by stallholders or on the off-chance that we’d be invited on to the Broadland FM stage to be interviewed about cows, pigs, sheep, goats, tractors or Land Rovers.

As it is, I still don’t pay to get into the show because I’m working there. It’s not the same. If you see me, give me something free for old time’s sake. I accept all major credit cards.

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