Next week the UK officially goes gardening mad, as the TV cameras, celebrities and royalty all flock to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The last time I went to an RHS Flower show, I saw something that had me giggling for days afterwards. I know we’re not supposed to laugh at other people’s misfortune, but this was irresistible.
It was the first day of the show, which is when all the judging is done, so only the press, celebrities and royalty were allowed in. I was strolling around the show, when one garden in particular caught my eye; not because of its horticultural excellence but because there was a half naked girl sitting there. She was wearing only a tiny bikini and had obviously been ‘hired’ to attract attention to ‘the garden’. Judging by the gathering crowd, the stunt was working. As it turned out, she got more attention than she bargained for.
I stood there smiling to myself at the shouts of “over here darlin’, give us a smile” from the dogs dressed as photographers, and I noticed the wooden bench the girl was sitting on. It had obviously been hand-made and the legs had been carved into something resembling sea shells. While this bench looked beautiful, it didn’t look altogether stable.
I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed this fizzing little scene and an icy chill ran down my spine. In stark contrast to all the excitement in front of me there were a group of sombre looking ‘suits’ approaching; the RHS judges.
What followed was both pure comedy and pathos. The judges came nearer, the cameras clicked; the girl looked as sexy as she could, but then made the fatal error of repositioning herself on the bench. You know those moments when you feel yourself beginning to lose balance; you think you’ve got it under control but then a split second later and you’re past the point of no return. You know you’re going down. Yeah, that.
Nothing wipes away a false smile quicker than a dose of fear. As the girl shifted her weight the bench first wobbled and then rolled on its shell shaped legs. In a flash she tumbled clumsily over the back of the bench, arms and legs flailing wildly in panic. A quick scream and the bench had dumped her unceremoniously into the neatly coiffed plants. All that remained of the previously enchanting scene was a pair of legs sticking up in the air. Dignity vanished. The photographers witnessed the whole thing and so did the RHS judges, she was all over the papers by that evening.
I hate it when emotions fight against each other, it causes such inner turmoil. On the one hand I wanted to throw my head back and laugh out loud and on the other I felt sorry for the girl. Everything had seemed to be going so well, right up to the point where one of the beautifully designed objects was tested, and it failed.
I’m afraid my empathy was overpowered by stronger, darker forces and I had to walk away, head down; whole body shaking with laughter. I hadn’t realised flower shows could be so much fun.