Well you didn't win this year!
The first week in September was an important date in the calendar for allotment holders and gardeners in general – it was their show date. It was also the week notable for adverse weather of rain and wind, and all the enthusiasts were busy covering plants, staking them and tiering them, putting slug pellets down or giving plants a final spray of insecticide.
The show was held in Christ Church Hall, Albion Road. In the hall the usual helpers placed the tables, putting clean white papers which enabled exhibitors to show their entries to the best advantage. More space was allocated to the popular varieties: dahlias, gladiolas and herbaceous border plants in vases or bowls, while sweet peas (past their best in September) with carnations and roses took the minimum space.
Jackie Napier, Tommy Humble and Bill Harmon were the notable growers, the latter, winner in the last four years. Jackie and Tommy were going to stop that this year! At 9 am on Friday morning it was all bustle and activity. Vases, bowls of all shapes and sizes and colour were used to get the best results. Top dahlias prize was 15/- and a diploma featuring dahlias with a scroll and patterned all round with a gold edge, and the Mayor generally had his photo taken beside the winner. This glory had been Bill’s for four years. Bill’s wife Josy helped him and she also was a successful competitor in the past for ladies spray, gents buttonhole and her sandwich cake.
Judging began at 1 00 pm and doors opened at 6 pm, good luck to all. The Mayor and his party were to be there for 8.30 pm. Bill had finished work, had a pint of tea and a sandwich, and he and Josy made their way to the Church Hall, only ten minutes away from where they lived. Both were naturally excited and curious.
As they went up the stairs together, Tommy and Jackie leaned over the bannister, really keen with the news “Well you didn’t win this year!”
Bill took no heed, they said the same every year, but it was just banter, nothing malicious. “We’re not kidding, did you win Jackie?”
Then it was Tommy?”
“Not that new fellow, beginners luck, did he win?”
Josy, Bill and his two mates went straight to the dahlias. They were all marked “N.A.S” – not according to schedule. Bill wondered why, he re-read his R.H.S. rules, there it was “dahlias with own foliage”. He had misinterpreted it, using his own foliage, but it meant own dahlia foliage. In their eagerness Jackie and Tommy were the same, even the new fellow had lost because his vase was a bowl two inches wider than the rules.
The winner was a little old lady, with 7 dahlias of varied orange colours, showing brilliantly against neat dahlias green foliage! It was pleasant and neat, and Bill congratulated her – “serves us right for being so confident”. Bill was OK though, he had picked up about 30/-d and Josy had three wins, she was happy too.