Sunday, August 09, 2009

The End Of The World And A Raised Straw Hat

If ever proof was needed of the fact of global warming it could have been found in Halifax, Yorkshire on Saturday. It could have been found in the near cloudless sky, in the preponderance of sun hats, in the absence of mud, and on the smiles of the thousands who turned out for the annual Halifax Agricultural Show. Tradition has it locally that it always rains for the Show. Fate dictates it, manufacturers of umbrellas and Wellington boots plan for it. Cumulonimbus clouds are held in a holding pattern over the Atlantic for days ahead in order to adequately prepare for it. Occasionally there will be a pretence of fine weather - just enough to make you leave your galoshes and trench coat at home - a pretence that will be flushed into the watercourse by a sudden sharp shower. But on Saturday the sun shone. On Saturday the rain stayed away. As I walked around the showground in my shirt sleeves I couldn't help wondering whether the world was about to come to an end.
Global warming aside, it was a memorable day. There were marquees full of show hens, stalls full of sheep and cows and parade rings full of horses. There were birds of prey, antique tractors, llamas, and dogs, dogs and more dogs. There were kids sat on their fathers' shoulders to get a better view, old farmers casting a critical eye over a neighbours' prize cow, and pensioners testing out the grip on a new walking stick. Perhaps my favourite memory of the day was in the sheep judging ring. The judge and all the people showing their prize sheep were dressed in immaculate white coats. The judge, wearing a splendid straw hat, cast an expert eye over all the entrants. When he eventually made his decision and handed the prize cards out he raised his straw hat to each of the contestants. I don't know why, but there was something about the gesture which summed up the whole day to me. There was tradition and there was a certain solidity. Perhaps the world isn't going to come to an end just yet.


  1. Interesting post. Glad it was a good day, Alan, and the weather was really kind too. It's hot here and as you know the facility (if not the time) is available for blogging. I thought I'd look in to fulfil my blogging soul before venturing forth to the fire torn island of La Palma. Aurora is as ever quite comfortable, but there's a noticeable difference in staff attitudes since the change in ownership. Will play catch-up when I return.

  2. It's been a rare Summer in Halifax this year.Both The Show & The Gala have had fine weather.
    I didnt go this year ,but it looks like they had a good turnout.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful day - reminds me of my visits to the East of England and Shire Horse shows.

    Did you take the wellies and the umbrella just in case, safe in the knowledge that if you had left them at home you would definitely get caught in a downpour.. (or at least, that seems to be what happens to me!!)

  4. Sounds like a wonderful day. Your upclose photo of the hawk is amazing! Glad the weather was nice and you didn't need your Wellies!

  5. I remember the "Young Farmers" shows when I was a kid and you're right, it always seemed to be wet and muddy. Great shots and wonderful that it was such a beautiful day. I love agricultural shows. We have a huge one here each Easter, produce from all over the state, it's stunning if not a bit whiffy!

  6. What a lovely tradition for a lovely day! (I wish we all still wore hats)

  7. It's good to see an agro show that's still going. They seem to be closing down at an alarming rate.

  8. Of course, that should have been 'agri-show', not 'agro-show'.

  9. Val : Good to hear from you and glad you are having good weather. Enjoy the rest of your cruise.
    Tony : Indeed a Show and Gala double - there certainly is something odd going on.
    Kabbalah : No left them in the car and still it didn't rain!
    Betsy : Glad you liked the Hawk. Isobel tells me that as I went around the show taking pictures of birds and flowers I kept muttering to myself "beat that Abe Lincoln" And of course he did.
    Baino : I suppose Easter for you will be Autumn. Good to know it is normally wet and muddy somewhere else than the UK.
    Willow : I agree. And you will be glad to hear that I bought myself one of those straw hats very similar to the chap in the photo.
    Bill : Now if it had been wet, cold and muddy then it would have been an agro-show.

  10. Ah, just like our County Fairs--tho here it's invariably blistering hot for those, & definitely no rain! That is a fine straw hat!


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...