Ah, the London Boat Show at Earls Court...

Ah, the London Boat Show at Earls Court. Over the years it has become an institution in every sense: familiar, established, and packed to the gills with lunatics.

If you’ve ever had to work there you’ll know that by the end of the ninth day you’re invariably stuffed with that year’s strain of head cold, footsore from working the stand, queasy from too much bad food and alcohol, and exhausted from too many late nights. You’ve forgotten what your family looks like, you haven’t done any real work for days, the boats have begun to lose their lustre, the glamour and glitz of the official opening by the soap star with the big hooters is but a distant memory, the slightly-too-loud soundtrack on next door’s stand is on its 7,934th repetition, and even the charm of the great boating public asking where the loos are is beginning to wear a bit thin. Basically, you’re tired of London and therefore, as Dr Johnson once observed, tired of life. He didn’t know the half of it.

So why do we like it so much? Why go back? Why not chuck it all in at lunchtime on the second Sunday and get a proper job that might bring in some proper money and enable you to come back next year as a customer, to ask where the loos are and maybe buy a boat?

It beats me, but we all do. And you all do too, thank goodness. We all see the same faces every year and nod hesitantly at each other on the Guinness stand before realising that no, you don’t know him, he was just standing in exactly that spot with exactly that jacket on this time last year, and probably the year before that.

But finally, this is the last London show at that venerable modernist arena of Earls Court. Next year it’s at ExCel in Docklands, and a whole bright shiny future beckons. Get your nostalgia in early. Enjoy the past while it lasts.

Our reminiscence, and preview, begin in this issue.