I was in slow-moving traffic on the M42 on a cold, dark and rainy Tuesday evening.
On Radio 4’s PM they were still whining like stuck pigs about the election result, and I doubted I’d make my regular Flowerpots evening with neighbour Robert.
But, oddly, I was in a remarkably good mood. You see, I’d just enjoyed Lamma.
See also: Read all the latest news from Lamma
Many of us have missed big farm shows since the end of Smithfield. I have been known to log on to Google, find Earl’s Court, and click on the Street View function.
Despite the building having been demolished some years ago, you can still do a ghostly virtual walk around the venue; in through the Warwick Road entrance, round the enormous columns, up deserted elevators and past the endless food and drink outlets lining the edges.
All that’s missing is the livestock smell, and the rosy-faced Agrics in dealer boots and gilets.
Of course, other shows went on after the hasty demise of Smithfield 15 years ago.
The Royal staggered on for a few years, and was marvellous for livestock, double-glazing, water softeners and tacky clothing, but hopeless for machinery buffs. By 2009, that was gone, too.
There’s Cereals these days, but it is always in the wrong place if you’re coming from anywhere but eastern England, and a bit heavy on agronomy for me.
And it seems to rain a lot. And the Spanish Inquisition seemed to be in charge of ticket acquisition. And no one expects that.
So, with still no drilling possible last week, and free entry, and a relatively short drive to reach the NEC, I thought I’d give Lamma a go.
The day didn’t get off to a terribly good start: the nation’s entire stock of tank transporters were noodling their way noisily up the A34 (is there something we should know?), so reaching the M40 took a lot longer than planned.
But I swung off the M42 roundabout and into the NEC pretty well on schedule.
Yes, the car parks were chocker, but the shuttle buses were frequent, steamed up and very noisy – a bit like the District Line in the Smithfield days.
We were through the main doors, pausing only for our tags to be “bleeped”, and into the hall in no time.
I was in machinery heaven. New, shiny kit as far as the eye could see. One or two big names hadn’t graced us with their presence, but the range of heavy metal kit was vast.
Kuhn seemed to have a whole hall to itself, JCB hadn’t scrimped either (including showing its not-a-tractor-anymore fastest tractor).
At the other end of the scale were little booths lining the sides, some not much more than two men and a desk.
Something in the air
It was dry, just the right side of too busy, and best of all was the atmosphere: one of optimism, of looking forward.
An industry supposedly up to its knees in despair and guilt was having a great day out. It was a bit of a throwback to 1980s Smithfield – without the livestock, and the smell, and the dealer boots.
These days, all the bright young farming folk are looking foxy in Fairfax & Favor.
So, thank you, machinery dealers, for bringing all your kit – even if Grammer couldn’t explain (a) how to remove the plastic covers, and (b) why its seats make duck noises after six years.
And thank you, Lamma, we all had a great day out. I’ll forgive you the £11 my bun and a bottle of water cost – and, of course, for the fact that I missed Tuesday in the Jolly Flowerpots. There’s always next week.