Little Miss Chatterbox
It's been a year since Sapphire and I went to the Royal Adelaide Show and thankfully she's already outgrown the Beanie Kids craze. She's also outgrown the waking up at 5am stage and it was me, the thirty nine year old, who stuck her head into the nine year old's bedroom at 8:35am and said, "Aren't you going to get up yet?"
Once at the show, the Beanie Kids were eschewed in favour of the 'Little Miss' show bag, in an early, pre-teen wave of 'Because they're so cuu-u-te Mum.' So, like last year, to prevent anxiety, nagging and unfun occurring, we got the infernal bag-o-crap straight away in order to relax and enjoy whatever the show threw (up) in our way. She selected Little Miss Chatterbox as her plush toy and coffee mug selection.
Having a child who hates the smell of old cooking oil oozing out from caravans and the thumpingly loud sideshows and who wants to actually talk meaningfully as we see and do things means that the Royal Show experience increasingly involves the people we encounter and not the bags bought, food eaten or rides taken.
Following the Yellow Brick Road showbag trail for the first time ever meant that we were lingering by the flower displays and camellia judging was on in full force. By the ropes were cardboard trays of camellias. "Oh, we've rejected those ones already," a judge remarked to us, seeing our puzzled looks. "See, that one's already flopped out, and this one here---" he shook his head in disappointment - "---was obviously picked three days ago." He went on to explain just what he and his companions were looking for in a top camellia, to which Sapphire just answered, "Perfectness". He nodded, finally glad to have found someone in complete agreement.
It wouldn't have been the show if we didn't have a rest and a drink whilst taking in some competitions. The 'Mature Bitch' section in pugs were on, and we were quite partial to the one who kept on jumping and barking. "She's got the most personality," Sapph commented, "and she seems to be really enjoying herself out there."
This was overheard by Lyndall, a nervous Staffie owner who told us that she was watching the pugs to "Get a feel for the Irish judge, who is also the judge for my Brockie's competition. Yeah that's her, the bottle blonde with the stacked heels. How on earth is she going to stand in those all day with the staffies comp the last one of the day," she fretted. We wished her luck and went to see what other breeds were 'on' today.
Hungarian Viszlers, but so over it. One owner was hoeing into a huge bag of potato chips and for each handful she inhaled, she gave a handful to both of her dogs, who crunched away happily.
We bumped into Lyndall again, proudly showing off Brockie to a gaggle of admirers. He reminded me a whopping great mallee root, but with a tongue.
Dalmations were there too, with this one, Barney, doing his damnedest to get a snaffle of his owner's biscuit. "He can have some after I eat the chocolate end off."
We were all too soon asked by a steward to exit the dog hall as they were to close for an hour for lunch, with only the dogs and their entourages permitted to stay inside. Sapphire and I shot each other a quick look. Why not pretend we're with Barney so we could meet all the others? We decided against it, however, but only because time was against us (one day I'd love to spend a day there interviewing the funny characters we met so briefly today).
There was still the obligatory ferris wheel ride, the alpacas (if only to check if Sapph's music teacher had entered his in like he hoped to); the completion of the Yellow Brick Road (it is sobering just how heavy a bag can become when filled with oranges, apples, pears, pasta, loaf of bread and an entire bag of carrots), the ABC TV/radio trailer (Carole Whitelock was interviewing two Golden Girls who were holding the most ridiculously-clipped black poodles we'd ever seen. Picture a 1973 Michael Jackson nearly garrotted by some pink rubber bands and you'd be halfway there), woodchopping Jack-n-Jill events, grabbing freebie samples of gingerbread, cheese, toffee, crackers, fruit, chocolate, curry; and never quite fulfilling our quest for collecting any free stickers (the new Beanie Kids Craze for 2008).
Admitting to others - as well as myself - that I'm a writer of sorts seems to have increased my willingness to ask questions, chat to strangers and take photos of pretty well anything I can't find in my own home. Tap dancing midgets, for instance.
The Divine Miss M, in this case, on the Dare Iced Coffee stage, who put on a three minute tapdance performance just so that Sapphire and I could plonk down on the lawn in the gorgeous spring sunshine, rest our legs, eat some lunch and also be entertained by a bloke shoving a sword up his nasal cavity and a cortortionist called Ruby Rubberlegs pack herself up into a box.
Tap wasn't the only responsibility for Miss M, however. She handed the host of the 'SideShow Superstars' event a dingo trap that took all of her strength to lift, and was quite happy to put a rose in her teeth for another performer (Dirty Pat, I think his name was) to use a bull whip to deflower. It's hard not to wonder just how one ends up doing this for a day job and how, if it all, it is possible to classify this as G-rated family entertainment when Ruby can put her ankles behind her ears and smile winningly at the men in the front row, who suddenly sat up and took an intense interest in her back bends.
In the dairy hall, I had my first encounter with what - if you'll permit me - I'll daringly and braggingly call a 'fan' of my work. Well, my broadcasted love of chocolate at least. Sapphire was busy licking her soft serve as my eyes gleamed at the goodies on offer at Swiss Glory. "These guys win every year," I told her. "This is twenty bucks of heaven and possibly a couple of chocablog articles in the making." Sapph nodded in time with the rhythmic slurping of the drips leaking down the edges of her cone.
Another customer turned to beam in my direction. "Excuse me, are you the lady that's been on radio with Amanda?
I beamed with delight at this unexpected bonus. "Why yes, I am."
"I think you were so funny and ---- and you're not FAT like you sounded."
In the slightly more serious Jubilee Pavilion, a cramped stall full of unsmiling, young Chinese students wearing red mandarin-collared shirts were busy pummelling tired showgoers perched on plastic stools. "Come in for your free massage," their older, more confident boss called to me. I sat down, thinking that she was going to examine me, but she angrily called out to an exhausted and shy-looking young man, who immediately gripped my neck, slapped my shoulders and then tapped me on the head: "You very tense. Very tense. You keyboard all the time?"
A twenty buck note gave me a neck and shoulder massage that was heavenly, though I longed to understand what kind of conversation he was having with his other unsmiling mates. What are you talking about? "Oh nothing, nothing," he said, smiling at me. Don't you guys get tired from doing this? "Oh a bit, but we help each other, we massage each other's hands and shoulders and----" he stopped when the spruiker passed by and resumed his chatter with his buddies whilst he tenderised my shoulder blades. I'd like to think that their guttural bursts of laughter were directed at the cafe guy next to them who was selling lasagna next to sandalwood sticks, instead of me bending forward so far in pain-ecstasy that my sunnies slipped down my cleavage...
Hobbling out of there, wondering if I had been the unwitting cultural stress ball for my particular Chinese masseuse, we decided to find some refreshment. If it fit the 'vaguely edible' category, it would be seriously considered and this, we found, can be a rather big challenge.
Maybe not for young Max here, who did manage to get some of his dutch chocolate icecream inside his mouth. He's the Face of the Show, in my opinion.
Or my bias could win out and make it these guys.
Sapph leaned against me as we slumped in the backward-facing seat on the bus-ride home. "Thanks for taking me today, Mum. I had so much fun with you."
"I'm glad, love. What did you enjoy most about today?"
"Being with you and talking with you about everything."
Doesn't get better than that for the price of admission and some truly crap food.