I have discovered that there’s more to judging tradestands than a fancy badge and a good lunch. At the Royal County of Berkshire Show, a personal steward and a mapped pathway through the vast showground are provided, but the 60-odd stands in the local category include British Gas, biomass boilers and basket weavers.
There are gleaming tractors, eco-friendly detergents and frothy millinery. I count balloons and identify owl species with the Young Farmers and taste smoky cheese at Cherry Tree. Only the wool judge separating a snowball-shaped sheep (Scottish blackface) from one like an Afghan hound (Leicester longwool) seems to have a more bewildering task.
Attitude soon becomes the decider. Out goes the jeweller who doesn’t look up from his book, the lazy heaps of plastic bags, the gormless staff and charities whose messages are blocked by scruffiness. In comes the real welcome at the Salvation Army tent, Dylan Williams’s smart yet friendly Really Wild Clothing Company-his recent clay-pigeon shoot raised nearly £300,000 for Great Ormond Street-and, in first place, the jolly farmer producing birdseed. Farmer Brown has a good product, a cheerful apron and a tidy stand, but, above all, he has charm.
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