A challenging week

I try to believe that there’s never a problem, only a challenge.  In that case it’s been a week of challenges.

I left the Isle of Wight on a beautiful summer morning. Sitting with the dogs on the sun deck watching the reflections and the boats on the sparkling Solent was a great joy.  A time to reflect on the season so far and to look forward to my return to the Island in a few weeks for the 40th Isle of Wight Steam Rally.  I must have been feeling too relaxed, or maybe my attention was being drawn to my audio book, as I clipped a railing close to a roundabout as I drove out of Portsmouth.  I knew it wasn’t too bad by the crunching sound, but, stopping in a layby, I found the lower front corner of the box of the lorry, luckily on the not-yet-painted side, was scraped and dented.  It enfuriated me of course, particularly as I had only myself to blame.  I don’t share my mystery benefactor’s view of myself! I’m an idiot!

I have developed a philosophy about such problems, sorry, challenges of the physical world.  I believe that the only way to approach them is that their restoration and renewal improves the end result from the original.  So after a long and otherwise uneventful drive back to my yard and a good night’s sleep, I set about the repair.  It soon became obvious how I could improve the damaged corner and the result is very pleasing.  If only everything in life could be repaired so positively!

On to Shrewsbury Flower Show.  A new one for me, but I had some misgivings as the email trail was sparse, entrance tickets had not arrived as promised and a site visit back in the winter had not been conclusive in terms of the pitch I was to be allocated.  The event is the second largest flower show in Britain.  First of course is Chelsea, and the Shrewsbury Flower Show knows its place.  It is Very Important in the same way that some aspects of the town are, so I guess that’s to be expected.  But it also can be a victim of it’s own attitude. I arrived to find they had squeezed me in a tiny corner behind and very close to the lecture theatre in which the renowned gardener Pippa Greenwood was to be giving her Very Important Talk.  The thought of blasting Miles Davis across her horticultural tips briefly offered an interesting anarchic possibility, but one I pushed quickly from my mind and asked the Show Director to re-site me and the reasons.  Luckily I had arrived in plenty of time so this was managed very easily and I set about setting up.

Come the next challenge.  The Shrewsbury site is Very Sloped.  I was struggling to level the trailer and made the second mistake of the week resulting in the breaking of one of the trailer’s leveling jacks.  Being a stalwart of Steam Rallies I knew that there had to be a corner somewhere on site where there were chunky pieces of timber which was what was now needed, and with the help of the Director and what I took to be his assistant, who happened to be doing a site inspection at the time, found the right person and the right bits of timber.  Onward and Upward.  Literally for the rear of the trailer.

As I was finishing the setup the next day, a well-dressed couple approached.  They sported Very Important badges showing they were the Chairman and the President!  Both charming and helpful.  I immediately recognised the Director’s assistant who was now wearing the Chairman badge.  Foisted by my own assumptions!  The President was a man of the cloth and looked the part.  Avuncular, well-meaning and straight out of Oscar Wilde. He admired the nuns painted on one of the boxes on my theatre.  We joked about their expressions and he asked what I did.  ‘I do three set shows a day with improvisation between shows.’  His eyes widened, the pupils dilated and his mouth dropped open.  ‘Sex shows?’ he gasped, casting a disturbed sidelong glance at the Chairman.

So my introduction to Shrewsbury was interesting.  The shows are going to have to be really good if I am to repair that problem first impression.  Sorry, challenge.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander
Mr Alexander