If you look at a map of the M25 there is a huge amount of urban sprawl within it; all the more remarkable then that there is still a regular agricultural show inside the ring of the motorway; the Chertsey Show, which is now in it's 177th year. The Covid epidemic, however, has affected life, not only in Britain, but worldwide and many of our cherished traditions have been disrupted or even cancelled completely. This show may well be one of it's victims.
Over the years it has developed into a day out for all the family; an opportunity for people who live in towns and cities to re-connect with our countryside. Farm animals such as pigs, rabbits, goats and ducks were on display; there have been dogs showing off their skills, show jumping, horse carriages, food displays, and even pet shows.
Would you like to show off your home grown spuds? Sample home made wines, and perhaps offer your own? Over the course of the two day show there have been more than 200 classes of competition from pot plants to heavy horses.
According to the Daily Telegraph 18% of young adults, between the ages of 18 and 24, have never seen a cow in real life! Certainly they have seen them on their computer games and on television; which is where much of their leisure time is spent nowadays; and their knowledge of the countryside is woeful. Few of them have any real idea of how our food is produced and even fewer would have any idea of how to survive without a tin opener, microwave and local supermarket.
It is surprising that although nutritious food produced by British farmers is so cheap and plentiful that the country is in the grip of home delivered fast food; a market for which grew enormously during the worst days of Covid. Delivering pizzas, curries, burgers and chips - and even restaurant food - has grown into a multi billion pound industry with hundreds of thousands of (mainly young) delivery people with scooters, cars and mopeds all complete with their food delivery driver insurance certificates driving around the towns and cities all earning their living carrying takeaways. It seems we have collectively turned our backs on healthy and economical meals in favour of junk food brought straight to our doors.
Agricultural shows like these are vital in awakening the love of the countryside, and all it's bounties, which earlier generations took for granted. Mega Internet companies have much to answer for; like Facebook and Twitter which keep kids glued to their mobile phones and tablets for hours on end, and Google, which pretends to be a seach engine but which in reality is a personal information grabbing advertising agency which promotes the big companies which advertise on it, whildst extracting billions of pounds from Internet users every month. Not bad for a company which doesn't actually manufacture anything at all.
The organisers of the show were obliged to cancel the show in 2020 owing to the Corona Virus epidemic. It was hoped that a gradual lifting of restrictions would allow a show to go ahead in August of 2021 but unfortunately the organisers again felt that it should be cancelled.
This was not, it seems, a decision they made lightly. Putting on an agricultural show involves a huge financial commitment. There have been so many changes in government policy, driven by the unpredictable effects of the epidemic, that there could be no guarantee that the show would be able to go ahead, and that an enfoced cancellation could occur after considerable expenditure had already taken place.
The Chertsey Show organisers are not alone in suffering from the sheer unpredictability of the future. Like countless other organisations, they no doubt hope to be able to resume their activities in 2022.
We have to hope that once the Covid epidemic is a thing of the past, and people are able to mingle with others, and get out into the countryside again, that our old tradition pursuits can recover and carry on where they left off.
The lockdown has given us cleaner air with fewer cars on the road, and shorter journeys. The number of car accidents has dropped and insurers have been able to reduce premiums - many motorists are getting reductions up to around 6% off what they paid last year.
Premiums may - just may - fall even further next year. From January 2022 it will be illegal for insurers to charge regular customers more than they charge new ones - but the formula they will use is complicated.
Let us imagine you insured your car on the promise of a very cheap car insurance policy via a comparison site. If you renew your policy the following year the insurer will not be able to charge you more than you would have been charged by that same price comparison site.
This means that if you get your renewal quote, and then find that you could have got it cheaper at that same comparison site you bought it through, the insurer could be in serious trouble!
This could get complex; no-one really knows how it will affect premiums and it might even cause a general increase because of the extra complexity. The message is, though, that if you get a new policy through a price comparison site before January 1st 2022, you may well benefit from lower premiums in the furure too.
On the other hand the epidemic had a severe effect on shop insurance. Many retail premises had to close and the effect on trade was disastrous. Some, however, had business interruption insurance; attempts to claim on this, however, met opposition from insurers who saw that the pandemic could possibly cost them a fortune in insurance payouts.
Whether or not shops were covered for the effects of the pandemic has come down to interpretation, in the High Court, of precise wordings in the insurance documentation. Some cases were settled, most were refused, and a number are still rumbling through the court system.
Anyone taking out shop insurance now needs to pay very careful attention to the policy wording, and take expert, qualified advice. The future of a business could well depend on it.