Monday, July 02, 2007


Old, Older, but not yet the oldest citizen but the years have taken their toll. The labour of personal endeavour in the harsh climate of the Australian bush have left the physical entity frail, the muscles flaccid and the gait is now unseemly, and the old woman walks with a stick and still hopes there are good times ahead.

The summer heat tires and she has not been to a local show for a number of years. Why? At her last visit she could not find a seat, except at the tea and sandwich bar. At least there was a tarpaulin cover above to stop the summer sun beating down on the patrons. At that time she found the small seating stands made of metal too difficult to climb up and she had watched young children fall through and off the steps, not to mention the difficulty experienced by some adults too. Dangerous, she had thought.

Perhaps she’ll go this year as she has heard that new grandstand seating has been erected.

Her old mind reverses to a time of young womanhood, of times when she sat in large, glorious grandstands. Images waft before her mind’s eye, when she dressed in her best show outfit, always new, with hat, shoes and bag to match. No self respecting lady would go out without wearing stockings! At the show she became a fortunate and interested spectator after the seemingly ritualistic process of preparation to look one’s best on Show Day. At the Show the community exhibited their productivity, creativity and rejoiced if it had been a good season. It was surely carnival time.

Australian grandstands were usually a large edifice with easy accessibility to seating and made of wood with ascending wide steps that allowed the other patrons to pass in front of one with ease. In the higher seats the cool breeze would fan the body and refresh. The only apparent danger could be an odd splinter if the wood was old and dry.

Below was a passing parade of magnificence. The horse events, the animal judging, new cars and machinery, and the woodchoppers showed off their muscles and the chips flew as the sharp shiny axes rang out the wood’s tune. To this old woman it was better entertainment than a movie show as you could see your friends pass by and give a friendly wave while munching on an ice cream or fluffy soft fairy floss.

The pedantic clowns, large hatted bow legged horsemen, new citizens in prams, officials at their duties, children waving prize ribbons, the Australian flag fluttering in the breeze added to the vista. One could see everything right to the horizon.

Yes, this year 2006, she will go to the Show and see the new elevated stands they have recently provided and it has been said the structures are better than the last lot.

She will endeavour to remain positive.

Tired after the heat of the Pavilion and admiring the districts display and greeting her friends she wobbles again on her stick and a seat must be found.

Muttering to her self, “I’ll give these new covered metal stands a go,” and, pausing, wonders if there will be enough elevation to view the ring events now?

Hopefully, she climbs very carefully to the second top row and sits. Yes, she can see a little more but oh! how hot it is sitting on the metal and the back of the seat behind hurts her back and now she is becoming hemmed in. The steps are not wide enough for the populace to come and go with ease.

Disheartened she finds her view is now blocked by the seated officialdom inside the arena.

With saddened face, down cast eyes, and through tears she sighs and says, drearily, a good-bye to the Grand Parade and with her stick moves on. She shall not see her friend exhibit the champion ewe or watch the intelligent kelpie called Spice round up the flock, or see her young cousin compete with precision in the dressage events. Some happy children talk to her on the way to the car with the unselfconsciousness that resonates between the young and the aged.

They say “Going home already Grandma, aren’t you staying for the fireworks?”

A croaky voice replies, “I did try to support the Show by coming, but Grandstands are not like they used to be. Once they were glorious, when I was young and enjoyed the grand vision of a Country Show. Goodbye children, grow and be happy”.

A. Rhyl Bell
29/03/06 - ©


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