Rude politicians

We asked for recollections of the Royal Smithfield Show from the London years and we've not been disappointed.

Andrew Gilmour, who was on the show board for a few years and chairman for two years in the 1990s, recalled when The Queen Mother, in her capacity as show president, came to Earls Court every year.

She was always the host at the show lunch and various eminent agriculturalists and politicians were asked to the lunch.

Andrew said of one visitor: "On his arrival, I was asked by the then Scottish Agriculture Minister, John Sewell – this was before devolution – what time the lunch would finish. I said that I didn’t know, but that it would be when Her Majesty decides to leave.

"The Minister complained that he had to be at Westminster by a certain time and promptly left with no apology. I was left with an empty seat at the table, quite close to HM The Queen Mother. Fortunately, I very quickly met Jim Stobo, who agreed to be the 'Agricultural Minister' for next couple of hours and very good at it he was too!

"Another unpopular UK Agriculture Minister – and he knew he was unpopular – was Douglas Hogg and he decided to arrive and leave by a back door of Earls Court and see as few people as possible."

Pink Gins

Her Maj obviously enjoyed the Smithfield Club lunches as The Raider can remember reading in The Telegraph diary column that: 'Fears were growing for the health of HM The Queen Mother as she appeared to be very unsteady on her feet as she left Earls Court following the Royal Smithfield Show yesterday ...'

An enquiry to the show's chief steward of the time, Donald Biggar, found that HM showed little sign of 'taking a turn' at the lunch, but had maybe partaken of the odd pink gin too many!

Booze with Coutts

FOR THOSE lucky enough to receive an invite from the Royal Bank of Scotland to their annual London bash, held during Smithfield week in their exclusive Coutts Bank's HQ, it was a whing ding affair far from the smell of cow dung!

The Raider lived for many months off a joke told one evening at that reception by the Royal Bank's agricultural chief, Jimmy McLean – normally the epitome of sober judgement. He told the throng that: "Every year for the Royal Smithfield Show, Londoners regarded the Scots as being like haemorrhoids – when they come down and go back up, they are OK ... but if they come down, and stay down, they are a pain in the a..e!"

Dan's the man!

ONE who really enjoyed Smithfield and made much of the generosity of the bank's largesse at its reception, was the late, great journalist, Dan Buglass.

After one memorable reception, the assembled press left Coutts Bank to make their way to the next freebie – usually a dinner hosted by ANM's CEO, the late Brian Pack in Topo Gigio's Ristorante. The rest of us were awaiting the arrival of taxis in the pouring rain when we witnessed a flunky with an umbrella escorting Dan into a stretched limousine for his journey on.

He later said that he had impressed the chief executive of the Royal Bank by boasting of the large overdraft that they once held on his behalf, that he ordered his chauffeur to escort Dan to wherever he was heading next.

Pay as you go

Those of us of an older generation will remember the first British Airways shuttle to Heathrow – you just turned up, got on board the plane and paid en-route.

A farmer travelling to London could not find his credit card when the stewardess arrived at his seat, so said she would return later. She was a few rows behind him when he found the card and he turned round and called out loudly: “Hey, conductress?”

She replied, loftily: “I am the senior stewardess.” His response: “You tak' the money, therefore you are the conductress.”