For middle-aged men like me, there’s an element of jeopardy involved in pulling your suit out of the wardrobe when you don’t wear it very often, and even more so for a black-tie event.
Back in my Harper Adams and YFC days, when I was attending more balls than the average Disney princess, it wasn’t a problem, but now I’ve got a bit “older and sturdier”, as the present Mrs Evans recently described me (bless her heart), it can be an issue.
If you’re smart, you go for the insurance policy of having those adjustable buckle-and-strap things on the sides of your trousers.
But thankfully, as I’ve been on a fitness mission lately, this time they weren’t needed and the whole thing fitted relatively well.
Evans, Will Evans
Despite my best efforts to look like James Bond, I still managed to appear more like a man who’d be far more comfortable in a pair of wellies and dirty overalls. You can’t have everything, though.
Off to London and the Farmers Weekly Awards we headed, after a frantic few days of trying to get everything done at home.
We carried with us all the excitement of a couple who are, for once, about to have a night away without multiple female children in tow.
It’s always fun spotting fellow farmers in an urban environment.
Yes, it’s the clothes – checked shirt, chinos, gilet, dealer boots – but it’s also the wide-legged and determined stance of someone permanently braced for a tup running into the back of their legs.
And then there’s the walk – long purposeful strides with arms held well away from the body, like they’re carrying two full buckets of milk.
We didn’t have to wait long, either, spying a conspicuous bunch further down the train station platform (what is the collective noun for a group of farmers? An exhaustion? A moan? An overdraft?).
Farming being farming, it turned out that we knew some of them, though as there’s not many of us left anymore, it perhaps shouldn’t have been a surprise.
As always, when I go to London, walk through Euston Station and hear the announcement about pickpockets, the old man’s big city advice rings in my ears: “Keep your wallet next to your balls, son.” And I did; you can’t be too careful.
We’d looked briefly at staying in the hotel where the Awards are held, but after seeing the prices and eventually getting over the shock, we booked a Travelodge a few miles away.
This meant a new experience for us – getting an Uber. Aren’t we cosmopolitan?
The world’s friendliest driver proceeded to drive us to the bash, where the farming community’s great and good (and us) assembled, well and truly ready to party.
One of the first people I saw was former England batsman Sir Alastair Cook.
I just about managed to restrain myself from rushing over to babble on about his glorious 235 not out against Australia in Brisbane, 2010.
I now regret being too shy to say hello, of course, but still, we had FW opinion writers Ian Pigott, Stephen Carr and Cath Morley on our table, so there was no shortage of star quality and talent to associate with.
The highlight, though, was the Awards themselves. We all know that farming is a tough gig right now, so it was lovely to see the winners and their families and friends celebrating their successes by dancing long into the small hours.
A joyous reminder that no one does “work hard, play hard” like farmers. Well done, everyone, and thank you for a wonderful night.