Casey, the almost man

Image from our collection

At first glance, this is just another pleasant scene of historical interest, at the A&P Show in 1910. You can look at the clothes and the expressions of the people; you can marvel at the beards and hats – you can even wonder what people were looking at on the left.

Then, if you’re like me, you look to the back of the picture and see the sign for Casey, the almost man. What the? A genuine sideshow?  Diving into Papers Past, I find that The Grey River Argus described Casey in 1911 as ‘the wonder of the age’. Were they overdoing it? Possibly; but Casey’s talents were more highly evolved than ‘almost-man’ suggests.

He played the mouth organ and the piano, swung his right like a prize fighter, and even toasted the audience’s health. As a finale, the Argus reported, he shook hands with spectators in a way that ‘makes one think he belongs to some Masonic lodge or secret society‘.

The paper’s review concludes with the line that audience members left freely expressing the opinion that:

never before in the history of Greymouth has such a marvellous and interesting entertainment been placed before the West Coast public.

Whew. High praise. Read more about Casey, the almost man, in Papers Past. And ponder this: What would today’s equivalent be?

The Canterbury A&P Show – gotta be there!

Meeting the animals at Canterbury's A&P Show

It’s a Canterbury tradition, isn’t it? Every year we’re up at sparrows on Show Day. We bundle the kids into the car and head to the showgrounds munching marmite on toast as we go.


There’s always a queue. We bump over the paddocks and get mixed messages from people waving orange flags. We park, slap on sunblock and head to the entrance pockets jangling.

The animals are happiest early in the day. The rides are best before lunch. The nor’wester arrives at noon along with the chips and hot dogs. We buy up Christmas presents at the stalls before we leave exhausted, sunburnt and full of memories. The A&P Show is what Canterbury’s all about. Brilliant!

Chefs on show – Think Library!

CoverLost for an idea for dinner? Richard Till has the answer.

Till, along with fellow Cantabrians Brett McGregor and Jo Seagar, will get you in the mood for Show Week when they appear at Keri Woodham’s Books and Bubbles on Sunday.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie then there’ll also be cooking demonstrations at this year’s Canterbury A&P Show.

If you want to cut to the chase and just get the recipes, think library and grab a bundle of recipe books or  try our chef and recipe website listings.