I’m not the world’s biggest fan of competitions. Mostly because I can’t be bothered to enter something if I’m not going to win it (which ruled out pretty much all of Sports Day for me as a child) but also because I don’t really care where I come in the grand scheme of things. Having said this, I adore the annual flower show in our village. If you were after a definition of ‘Englishness’, you could do a lot worse than a flower show run by volunteers, raising money for charity, full of local families, with a flower and veg marquee, the WI serving teas in the Hall, children’s work in the church and all the villagers digging up their best veg. Every year, I spend the Friday night before the show wandering around my garden, cutting stuff to go in vases. Every year, on Saturday morning, there are lots of my fellow villagers at the allotments harvesting stuff. On the day I run a stall selling plants to raise money for preschool. Everyone gets together, and we enjoy looking at gorgeous flowers, vegetables, crafts, paintings, photos, children’s writing, preserves and cakes.
The funny thing about a competition is that, when it’s not *A COMPETITION* it feels a lot easier to join in. When it doesn’t matter who gets first place, or who wins a cup, because that wasn’t the point of it anyway, then it doesn’t really matter if you fail. I spent Friday night elbow deep in flowers, not because I wanted to win, but because I wanted to help fill the big white marquee that had appeared in our village with beautiful sights and scents, and thankfully so did everyone else. I sat on the patio with the kid, and I helped her build her impression of a forest vegetable garden, all overgrown and full of moss and brambles. It didn’t matter that she didn’t win a prize, she just shrugged it off; she enjoyed the time we spent together on the Friday night, and to her way of thinking, hers was ‘best’ anyway. And me? Well, I didn’t win the film theme category, despite trying really hard, and there only being two entries. But thankfully serendipity stepped in. As I was about to leave the allotment this morning, with my trug full of peas and broad beans, I thought, “why don’t I dig up a few potatoes?” I pushed the fork into the soil, turned it over, and there – gleaming like jewels – were some perfect early potatoes. I put them on a plate, labelled them “Charlotte” and hey presto! 1st place.