Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Widening the appeal
In most walks of life you’ll come up against someone who passes himself off as an expert in his field but when you drill down into the facts you’ll find he actually knows four fifths of fuck all about it. The same is true in the world of exhibition vegetables, whether it be the exhibitor at your local show who moans about a result going against him when it’s quite clear he has been judged correctly because he hasn’t a clue how vegetables are actually judged, or the judge himself who has never personally exhibited as far as anyone can remember and yet who passes himself off as an expert through a mixture of age, experience and a lot of bullshit. These learned gentlemen are often stern in nature and treat the art of showing as a serious business and conduct themselves accordingly, but ‘evans almighty, growing to show is meant to be a fun hobby and thankfully such sad individuals are slowly being consigned to history. Certainly, in The National Vegetable Society there is a much more relaxed attitude to the hobby amongst the majority of the growers and I think this approach is slowly spreading out to the judges too. When I judge a show for instance, I’m looking to judge as many of the dishes as possible rather than find reasons to disqualify them.
A few years ago I had an experience that will influence my judging methods forever. It was a local show, but of a reasonable quality, and as my wife was with me I sent her on ahead to check the quantities in each class were correct. She comes in handy that way and saves time. If there isn’t enough of something, for instance 8 shallots when 9 are asked for, then unfortunately there really is nothing you can do but to issue a ‘NAS’ ticket (not according to schedule) but I do try to leave a little note of encouragement such as ‘shame, these were good shallots otherwise’. However on this occasion she alerted me to a dish of tomatoes that had one too many in it, and at a first glance they would have been clear winners but for the obvious error on numbers. I had a steward shadowing me, himself a very experienced showman, and requested that he removed one of the offending fruits whilst my back was turned, thus allowing me to judge that dish along with the rest. His response totally shocked me, as he refused to do it, saying the exhibitor in question should know better and it wouldn’t be fair on the others in the class. As my wife calmed me down and sort of backed him up, I had no choice but to issue a NAS but it was a decision that didn’t sit easily with me. My mood worsened when I discovered later that the steward had benefitted from the NAS, achieving 3rd when he would have been out of the tickets if I’d been allowed to judge the NAS’d plate.
I asked a question on the NVS forum of other judges what they would have done in such a circumstance and I was quite bewildered by some of the responses. The one that really pissed me off was that it shouldn’t be allowed in case another exhibitor had spotted that his fellow competitor had benched too many of something. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK??? Let’s just think that one through for a minute. One of your opponents spotted that you had put too many shallots on the plate, and couldn’t be bothered or sporting enough to tap you on the shoulder and point out your mistake. What a cunt. He would then go further and complain if he came back after judging, having been certain no doubt upon vacating the marquee that there were still too many in your dish, that someone had altered it during the judging process when in fact you should have been disqualified. What a complete and utter total cunt turd of the highest order. Such wankshites have no place in the hobby as far as I am concerned and should be hung from their tessies.
In future when faced with a similar situation as the one with the tomatoes I will insist the excess is removed, and if the steward refuses I will do it myself. If he objects I will leave the area and not come back, thus leaving them in a pickle if the show isn’t judged. I would like to see this spread out to even the biggest shows. In 2013 when the National was held at Harrogate an elderly exhibitor who can’t bake cakes but who somehow manages to beat me every time, put too many shallots on his stand and was disqualified. They were otherwise magnificent shallots and would probably have been in the tickets in my opinion. I just think that NAS looked ridiculous to the paying public and did the NVS no favours if they want to entice new members, who may think such an antiquated society with such arcane rules isn’t for them.
There have to be rules of course, but these should be applied sensibly, fairly and in the spirit of positivity rather than negativity. As I said at the beginning, growing for show should be about having fun and promoting camaraderie and a sporting tolerance open to all, not the creation of a hidden underworld frequented by old men with piss-stained trousers and tweed jackets thumbing through their rule books looking for reasons to disqualify someone for having the audacity to smile.