A Right Royal Rogering
..... of the wallet and stomach ache kind.
Here in Adders it's Royal Show time. In my day (pre-Boer War, when there were only three terms, holidays were in September and Fat Cat was the authority of when it was time to go to bed) the show was something we did the long car-sick drive to in our own good time, but nowadays the kiddies get a designated day off from school to attend.
Sapphire is now eight and we've been lucky enough to divert her from going to the show for the past two years. When she was six I just took her to the movies and maccas and last year Love Chunks took her to the Beach House in Glenelg.* He's not sure that the Beach House was any cheaper than the Show but it was much easier to find a car park.
My older bruvva, Rob, once had a temp job as a show car-parking attendant. He had to charge each car five bucks to park in the grasslands opposite the Russian Church. It was mindless work but paid his rent and his uni fees. One morning a twin-exhaust Valiant full of bogans drove straight through, ignoring the commanding authority of his orange fluoro vest and requests to stop. Bogan One shoved his beard out of the passenger window, yelling, "Up yer arse, Uni Fag - try and find us for your money!"
Rob seethed and took note of their licence plate and where they parked. A few minutes later they strolled past, lumberjack shirts flapping about their waists, littering brain cells here and there along with their cigarette ends, jeering at the lone car parking attendant. Rob stood there patiently, reminding himself that Karma wins in the end. And it did. In a free moment he simply walked over to their vehicle, let down all four tyres and used a stick to squish a fresh dog turd into the grille of the bonnet near the windscreen. By the time the boneheads returned, he'd long finished up and gone home.
Back to now. Yesterday dawned sunny and bright and Sapphire was revved up and ready to go by 7am. After a bit of stalling ("Look sweetie, it might help things to get out of your PJs, have a shower and some breakfast first love, so put your $39 of savings in twenty cent pieces down and remember that the gates don't open until 9am....") we took the bus (still exciting for Sapph) to Wayville.
Lordy me, the smells of already over-Baine-Marie'd donuts and dimmies assailed my nostrils. As did the wino who sat in the seats next to us and the over-flowing skip, full of last night's trodden on burger patties and Sling Shot vomits. At precisely 9:03am, a seemingly responsible-looking father bought himself and his daughter a Dagwood dog (see picture) for - I don't know what - breakfast? brunch? A guaranteed technicolour yawn on the Gravitron?? All it took was my raised right hand and a firm shake of the head for Sapphire to stop her "Aw Mum they look nice can we please get...." request and instead focus on her biggest agenda item - BEANIE KIDS.
"M-u-u-u-u-um, Selene went to the show on Saturday and she said if you buy two you get one free and---"
"I know Sapph, we'll visit the showbag hall after we check out the animals---"
"But Mum they might run out and apparently you get to choose a hand puppet or a drink bottle and Niamh said that she----"
"Yes love but it's only Wednesday and they'll make sure that they have enough for everyone. How about we line up for the ferris wheel before the line get too--"
"Awww M-u-u-u-u-u-m-m-m-m-m, but what if we can't find the Beanie Kids stall or you lose my pocket money or we go on a ride and I get sick and have to go home before we get to visit--"
(Counting to three, taking deep breaths): "O-k-a-y. How about we find the bloody beanie kid coven now and get it over with....". It was the first stall we saw in the Jubilee pavilion and full of very child in Sapph's class who hadn't been on the weekend. Sixty bucks and a 'cuddly kid', three Beanie Kids and a so-called freebie hand puppet and the butt-ugliest 'Adelaide Show Kid 2007' later, Sapphire relaxed. Her mission was complete: everything else now was just icing on her kiddie cake.
Yoghurt, cheese and choccy samples at the Dairy Hall, a ride on the Ferris Wheel, making a DVD reading the weather in the ABC caravan and one piss-poor fishing game in the Sideshow area swallowed up our morning. I tried my best to skirt around the scarier rides and even scarier owner-operators of the rides.
Sideshow areas are like clowns to me - they both give me the heebie geebies. Sideshow operators always look as though they're on parole or on the witness protection program and, if my Grandma were still alive, she'd as likely chime in with, "And they could also use a good scrub with a flannel and some good old velvet soap if you ask me." Throw in some thudding techno music at each ride in direct competition with their neighbours and it all got a bit much for Sapphire. Thank god.
"I HATE this Mum! It's too loud, it's for teenagers!" Bless her sweet heart, she'd been listening to me after all.
Oooh-eerrrk, it was eventually time for lunch. The choices at the show had not changed in the three decades I'd been attending, despite the recent steps towards addressing obesity, embracing fresh produce and healthy eating. My backpack contained a small, ice-brick lined cold pack full of fresh strawberries, blue berries, water and Farmers Union Feel Good, but the main course was yet to be bought. The lingering odour of old cooking oil, fairy floss and Sideshow BO wasn't making any of the selections any more appealing. Gee, do we approach the guy with the tattoos above his eyebrows for his finest Y2K-era Yiros; visit the Video Ho Reject Chick for her luke-warm 'hot' dogs or the chicken-n-chips vendor who was so fat even his forehead had stomach rolls?
Sapphire of course, saw none of the grit and only the glamour. Two cups of chips and chicken strips later, we sat in front of an empty stage and people-watched. It was not unlike being at the Tea Tree Plaza Food Court but times eleven. More examples of boob-shelves** over patterned leggings, fat boys with rat tails and 'If it's got tits or wheels, it's trouble' t-shirts and toddlers swilling coke - don't good looking people go to the show - can't they stop shopping in Unley or sipping chai at Cibo for one day at least?
We eventually left for home, stomachs hurting from being forced to eat stuff referred to as 'food' but not officially recognised by our own intenal organs as such. We were $200 poorer and lugging armfuls of bags full of stuff we didn't need, wouldn't use and will never see again. Our fellow passengers on the Currie Street bus were similarly laden. Mega Bargain Bags, Yellow Brick Road goodies, bright yellow Bart Simpsons and 'life-like' sleeping puppies and kittens that breathed with the aid of 2 double A batteries..... What the 'lucky winners' of 5 foot tall boogie-green styrofoam-filled frogs were going to do with the buggers was just too much for my exhausted brain to contemplate.
* The Beach House has replaced Magic Mountain, a poo-brown homage to fibreglass and polypropelene that was built in 1983 and bashed down about twenty years later. Sadly, the Beach House looks just as appealing as the Mountain of Manure and blocks the seascape just as boldly.
** Boob Shelves - when a woman is so overweight that her breasts become almost horizontal, as in pretty much being able to rest a cup of tea on the top of them. Said women then try to counter-balance this by wearing huge tshirts that drape over their chests, down past their stomachs towards their thighs, creating a generous 'tent' space between their boobs and the ground. It is surely a criminal waste of space that could be best used as bus shelters during Adelaide's increasingly rare rainy days.