Our little family of three is doing something we haven’t done for over a decade – we are heading west on Easter Monday to rub shoulders with the masses at the Royal Easter Show. The last time we all did this my son was about two and half. It was the first time he’d ever encountered certain animals – the ones not found on footpaths or at the zoo. These included cows. He had seen plenty of little plastic ones, of course, but was somewhat thrown by the size of the real thing. But once he grasped the concept, he then proceeded to point at each one and proclaim: “A cooooow.” This occurred a couple of hundred times as we made our way past their stinky stalls. The next year he and I went on our own. At one point he was on some kiddy ride and I was down below looking for something in my bag. I heard a kid calling out ‘Dad’ but didn’t think much of it and didn’t look up. But when that same voice started calling out “Charles”, I figured out who it was and looked to see my grinning three year old enjoying his ride. But now he’s a teenager, how will we all go on our first family RES trip in a long time? He has his own money in his pocket so that should minimise (though not eradicate) his pleading for us to buy him crap. And it is this celebration of crap that has always been something I’ve struggled with at these sorts of events and is probably what has kept me away for so many years. Each time I walk through a show crowd and see people carrying around the latest pieces of popular culture branded plastic shite, I get a little down. I think it’s such a waste and evidence of just how shallow our society has become. Interestingly, on this visit, though I’m aware of the parade of plastic shite, it doesn’t seem to bother me as much. Am I mellowing? Or have I just become resigned to the fact that I live in a shallow society? We soon see something that intrigues us – a tent full of egg shaped chairs with people being buffeted about wearing virtual reality head sets. My son and I decide to give it a go (though of course I have to pay the $20 required) while my wife watches. After some lost in translation exchanges with a Japanese operator, we are seated in separate pods and informed that we are about to go to Jurassic Park. We will be shooting dinosaurs – but aiming by moving our heads until we have the killer creatures in our sights. Soon I am transported into a 3D world – a world where Japanese is the language of choice. Having no idea what’s being screamed in my headset by a very distressed but sexy Japanese tour guide, I still get the general idea that I should try to kill the various rampaging reptiles before they kill me. One actually lifts me off the ground and drops me from a great height. But I seem to survive and manage to kill more dinosaurs with a screaming sexy tour guide wrapped around me. The adventure finally finishes and I stumble out of my egg feeling very queasy. I had already informed my son that I may not be joining him on any rides and this has sealed it – no way am I paying any more money to get tossed and whirled about. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to bother him. We both accept that our one token show thrill was shooting dinosaurs in a Japanese 3D world. I need food so we grab some mediocre lamb kebabs, chips and Coke. Though it shouldn’t, this settles my stomach. We’re then off to see some animals. My wife and I tell our son the ‘coooow’ story as we check out the latest bovine generation. Then it’s off to the chooks. Who would have guessed it but my son is fascinated with chickens. So much so that he considers spending his pocket money on a $30 chook (an idea which, once laughed at, is quickly quashed). It’s then off to the doggies. The line into the exhibition area is so ridiculous that we head straight for the arena. This turns out to be perfect timing as the Best in Show comp is just about to start. Half a dozen dogs of different breeds are competing to be top dog. One doesn’t even look like a dog but more like a tiny shaved horse. The crowd favourite is a misbehaving Malamute (my wife and son join forces to torment me by repeatedly calling it a Husky). Much to my surprise, the misbehaving Malamute takes the chocolates (though not literally as they would kill him – he has to settle for an oversized ribbon and multiple trophies – not sure why one isn’t enough). Speaking of chocolates, the time has finally come for what has always been the driving force behind my son’s motivation to come all the way out here – Showbags. He is disappointed to learn, however, that neither of his parents are in any way interested in Showbag Hell and will instead be going to check out the giant pumpkin at the food pavilion. He can go on his own and phone us later to meet up. Reluctantly, he trudges off while go check out a 174 kilo pumpkin. The food pavilion also holds such treasures as a stand selling Limecello (that’s right – not Lemoncello but Limecello!) and I buy a bottle of that and a Passionfruitcello for the Mrs for a mere $65 (bargain!). Once we are re-united with our son and all have some Lemon Myrtle ice cream (yum!), we sample some tongue tingling chilli jerky which I then buy. All happy with our various goodies, we then pile into the train and head back east, satisfied by our excursion into our shallow society’s Showland.