I like making things. You will have seen that from my previous posts: I made cheese, I tried marbling, I even tried making pop cakes. I like crafting things, trying things out, and doing what I can to make Good Things.
But I don’t like being seen to be making an effort. It is a hang up from my childhood town, where standing out was NOT a good idea, and where being seen to try was viewed as an opportunity to mock. I am working on this, and working through it. The parents’ race was a big thing for me because of this, rather than any lack of natural talent.
So for the last couple of years, at the local annual community farm show, I was quite content to enter a pot of jam to the popular jam class, and to help my son with some of the childrens’ classes. I worked hard on the jam, and even won one year with my marrow and ginger jam (with a hint of orange oil) to my utmost delight (and a deal of squealing when I saw the red card under my pot as I went to collect it!) That was quite an achievement as there are usually about 30 entrants. (Why enter, then? Well, you get a free ticket to the show, for one thing… 😉 And that would be my ‘excuse’ for entering. But, truly and honestly? I wanted to enter. I wanted to see if I *could* make the best jam.)
There are other popular classes, such as photography classes, fruit cake, Victoria Sponge (jam only filling. Very important that, apparently.) But they are both very competitive and also classes that I know I don’t have any particular talent at.
Last time we were at the show, though, I noted that there were a couple of classes that were undersubscribed. In fact, if I had have entered one of them in particular I would have been guaranteed a Third Place, even if I had been appalling… So I thought that I stood a reasonable chance of topping up my ‘pocket money’ with a little bit of effort.
This is why this year I decided to enter a couple of classes that I would not normally have done: the decorated cake class (‘a cake fit for a Royal baby’), and the ‘Packed Lunch for a hungry farmer’ class. It was a lot of fun working on them at home, despite a busy schedule, and I had to hurtle to the farm to display them in and amongst doing stuff for Sunday School.
As I put them out on display, I looked at the others going out and thought to myself, “Who am I to put this offering out there? Look at those others. They are a lot more experienced than I am.” But I quelled the feelings attached to these, put them out, arranged everything and shot back home again. The cake, in particular, was cute, but not amazing: (A baby in a rocking cradle with a Union Jack quilt) To cut a long story short (OK, shortER, Mr Picky Pants) I won. Really, I won! My packed lunch won first prize. In it were: two types of mini calzone, rye and sunflower seed bread roll with homemade haloumi cheese, caramalized onion marmalade, scone with cream and homemade rhubarb and orange jam, pumpkin and sage soup, vegetable crisps and homemade orange and lemon cordial. I was so, so pleased with myself. I looked at what I had done, I looked at the others, and I thought, “Yes. I DID do well. Mine IS the best here, indeed.” And I was proud.
The cake came nowhere, but it was fun to make and great to eat – ripping chunks off it was the only way to carve it up! I also got third prize for my jam 🙂
At the end of the day, I went to pick up my entries. Tucked under my picnic basket was the red First Prize ticket, and alongside it was another note – The Rowley Parfitt Trophy. “What’s this?” I asked. “You won a trophy. Didn’t you know?! Best cookery exhibit in the show.” “A trophy? I won a trophy? Really?!” By this time, my voice was now pretty much only audible to bats and certain breeds of dogs.
I had ignored the prize giving ceremony entirely, chatting instead to one of the stallholders about business grants, because, of course, those things don’t apply to me, do they? Well, this time baby they do.
And I have my trophy (a set of scales, with engraved name plates) on the top of my fridge. I will be getting my name engraved on it, and I will be displaying it with pride. I will be standing out, and I will be holding my head up high. AND I will be entering next year, so they had better watch out – I am planning already how I can hold on to my title… Oh, and for any of you who were wondering, Cherub entered six classes and came home with six prizes. Some he won by default by dint of number of entrants, but others were where he genuinely did a jolly good job. So well done him, too.