For the first time in more years than I care to remember, I will not be going to any village shows this summer.

The lurking presence of Covid 19 has put paid to all such occasions in this blackest of years, and I will miss my lazy perambulations around the tents and village halls to marvel at the ingenuity of my fellow men and women.

Placid sheep, haughty horses with even haughtier riders and mad-eyed goats will all have to stay on the farm, and the wasps will not be able to seek sustenance from inside the can of Coke you are drinking.

My fascination with shows dates back to the 1950s when there was money to be made at the annual Macclesfield Carnival, held at the town of my birth’s South Park.

I cannot recall any of the events that took place in those far off times, but I do remember the joy of scouring the showfield for empty pop bottles.

In those pre-plastic bottle times, the receptacles were all made of glass, and there was a penny deposit on each bottle. Many of the spectators at the event could not be bothered to return their empty bottles to the kiosks from which they had bought them, but there were scores of urchins – me included – who were more than happy to do the job for them.

Those pennies from the pop man soon built up, and we could have a riotous time on all the fairground attractions thanks to our prototype recycling campaign.

We were taught to keep our eyes on the ground, for as the carnival beer and port and lemons flowed, people could grow a little careless with their change, which sometimes found its way to the floor.

If you saw someone drop some money, you were duty bound to tell them, in the hope they would give you a tip for your honesty, but if it was just lying there, it was finders keepers.

One memorable day I espied the holy grail of a ten shilling note all but covered by mud at the entrance to the penny slot machine tent.

Ten bob – 50p now – was considerably more than a month’s pocket money, and I had to watch in exquisite agony as hundreds of pairs of feet shuffled over it, pressing it further into the mud,

Any one of them could have bent down and picked it up before it actually stuck to the foot of a large woman with corned beef legs who spent an eternity feeding coins into a slot machine without success.

With a rich oath, she eventually walked away with the note flapping from the sole of her wellies, but after half a dozen steps, the treasure fell away, and I swooped like an osprey plucking a rainbow trout from the depths of Kielder Water.

I expected at any moment to be pounced on by another gang of brawnier other boys, or even the stern policeman patrolling the showground, but I somehow managed to secrete the grubby note into the back pocket of my shorts without anyone noticing.

I fled from the showfield like the criminal I believed myself to be, and gave the evidence to my mother, who spent it on a joint of lamb for the next day’s Sunday dinner.

It was many years before I started covering shows for a living, touring the length and breadth of Tynedale trying to find still more superlatives to describe the intricate embroidery in the craft tent, the majestic eminence of a prize pot leek, or the insanity of watching drunken men seeing how far they could throw a raw haggis whilst trying to retain their balance whilst standing on top of a small barrel.

Occasionally I would find myself closely involved in the action, such as when I was part of the RAF Falcons parachute display team which dropped in on Bellingham Show a few years back.

I hasten to add I didn't actually leap out of the Hercules aircraft which delivered the parachutists to the showfield.

But I did fly with them from Newcastle Airport, and watched them rehearsing their moves on the tarmac like the most macho Morris Men you’ve ever seen

After the drop, the Hercules swooped over the showfield just over the heads of the crowd, before the pilot stood the mighty aircraft on its tail in a near vertical climb, the G-force from which reduced my height by several inches.

I really miss my job sometimes!