Posts Tagged ‘1987’

Prize winnings

February 11, 2016

It is almost thirty years since my childhood village flower show ended. I have a number of souvenirs, not least the cup I won in the fruit section in the very last year. I wrote about that before and you can read it by clicking here.

For no particular reason I also kept an envelope of prize winnings and here it is.


Let’s start at the top. In this year F6 was my code. It was deemed important that judges didn’t see names so all entrants had a code which would not be the same from year to year. Section 3 was the fruit section and the individual class was 79. I wouldn’t have known what that was but for the word ‘Double’ written on the envelope. Double points were awarded for collections so class 79 was for a collection of fruits. I got third prize in this section.

The points were doubled and so to was the prize and in writing this I have actually opened the envelope – oh so carefully so as not to damage it – and for the first time so I can reveal what the prize was.


And there we have two nice bright and shiny 20p coins which have been untouched by human hands since 1987.

If I remember correctly you got 50p for a first place, 30p for a second and 20p for a third, doubled up for the collection of fruits class.

And just for fun I’m working out (or rather getting the web to do it) what 40p in 1987 might have been in today’s terms.

In straight retail price index I’d need 90p now to match that 40p. But were I working, in the time taken to earn 40p in 1987 I’d now get £1.23.

However, my 40p is now back in the envelope and kept again.

Why? I don’t really know.

My present village flower show abandoned cash prizes some years ago, recognising that people enter for fun rather than for reward.

The Auctioneer

January 22, 2016

I think of myself as a fairly quiet and retiring sort of chap, but sometimes you discover unexpected things about yourself. One thing I discovered was that I was quite happy to make a complete ass of myself, in public, by being an auctioneer. I have no training in this and wouldn’t want to do it at a ‘real’ auction with valuable lots. But one that crops up on a yearly basis is the ‘after the flower show’ auction when unwanted produce is left to help raise funds for the organisation.

I have been doing this, at one show or another, for about 30 years now and people still expect me to do it and folks seem to enjoy it, so I suppose I do OK.

This photo dates back to 1987.


This was the Ifield Flower Show. Ifield had been my home village as a youngster but by 1987 I had been a Wiltshireman for 17 years. The Ifield show was still a marquee affair and that was to prove its downfall. Hiring the marquee just proved to be too expensive. This auction was really the last ever action at an Ifield Flower Show for this was its final year.

I’m the chap standing on the ‘rostrum’ to give me height. I have a good range of flowers to auction, but at the time I seem to be showing the bidders a plate. Maybe it had blackberries, or perhaps some fudge on it

Almost inevitably, for I was no longer a local, I don’t know who the bidders were.  I had (and still have) family in the area and the flower show was always a good gathering of the clans. But I don’t see them there.

I ought to tell you my worst howler at a charity auction I was taking. One of the objects I had to auction was a loo seat and I was finding it hard to get a starting bid. I’d worked down to what I thought was an absurdly low starting figure and still had no takers so in desperation I asked, ‘Come on! Who’ll put me in?’ There was a pause and then a room full of people started laughing. Well it was a toilet seat I’d invited people to put me in. Needless to say it got quite a good price after that.


Real Snow

January 19, 2016

When I first moved to Wiltshire back in 1970, snow fences were put up alongside some roads so that they were a bit protected from drifting snow. Even so, a blocked road, due to snowfall, was a common phenomenon. There are no snow fences these days. It is assumed that they are not needed.

The end of 2015 was phenomenally wet although Wiltshire got away lightly. And now we wonder will we get real snow, like we got in 1987.


This was my daughter, on the toboggan – a simple plastic affair – back then and what a glorious scene it was with, apparently, limitless snow and so much fun for youngsters to enjoy.

We can all accept that snow can be a dreadful nuisance, but many of us regret the passing of this old winter stalwart.  It was always possible to be reasonably prepared and if roads got blocked then we survived quite happily

On this occasion we didn’t need to. Our photo album dates this to February or March and says the snow really only lasted one day. If we get any this year let’s forget being adult and responsible. Let’s find a way to enjoy it. Wouldn’t it be lovely if my daughter’s children – the oldest still a bit younger than she was in 1987, could see and enjoy snow like this.

An Electron User

August 20, 2015

Back in the early 1980s I forked out £200 on an Acorn Electron Computer. That was a vast amount of money for a basic computer with no screen for display (you used your TV) and no mass storage (you used a cassette tape player). And the machine had a working memory of 32 kbytes or, in present day terms, next to nothing.

However, this computer turned out to be something of an investment. I found I had programming skills and could sell what I wrote. My programs were not in the top notch of games but computer magazines used to publish listings for people to type in. That’s where my programs went.

Then, the publishers asked me to write reviews of software and also articles about computing.  All earned me cash but most of all, I enjoyed doing it.

My main magazine was Electron User which was published monthly for almost seven years. They can now be found on line and here is one of my reviews.


This appeared in the February 1987 issue of the magazine and clearly I was none too impressed with the software. I recall that I enjoyed the TV programme it was based on and that wasn’t just seeing Aneka Rice in her close fitting garment. I really did enjoy solving the problems contestants were set.

No doubt, these days, a pretty decent version of this game could be made. It probably really needed more computing power than the electron could deliver.