A London Friday night. Where would I have been? A chi chi supper in a sushi restaurant, exhausted by work, distracted from enjoyment by a who knows why apathy of the soul? Fun, huh? Maybe not. Maybe, a just out movie, alone or with a friend. Alone, I am likely to cry in movies; sit in crushed velveteen seats, eat tear wetted popcorn, grope hopelessly for tissue scraps. Though, if given the choice, I prefer company and laughter.
In the country. Tra la. Who goes out to dinner in the country? Some do. I don't, or only when the moon's shine is blue. Certainly not a movie. What's "a movie"? Better, far, a stockjudging event, a fundraiser for a good and rural cause. I can die happy now I have stared at a cow's backside all night. I asked myself: "Does life get any better than this? Right here. Right now. Staring at this particular cow's arse?" I thought to myself: "I bloody hope so."
Then I thought: what is not to enjoy about a Charolais cow? Who needs Daniel Craig rising from the sea? Watch the muscle ripple in that young bull's rump. Admire the conformation of that heifer, set four square and shapely. This cheeky Suffolk tup, a painted caramel and black faced beauty, spray tanned for the night. A city dweller, which of course, is far from what I am. A city dweller might think one sheep looked much like a fleecy other. Might feel they would rather eat the steak than spend quality time at the weekend with it. That is not me, of course.
To judge the beast, a farmer told me you look to see if they are "breedy"; that is to say they are a bright, attractive sort of animal. That their "top line" which runs along their back is straight and true; that they are not knock-kneed. Last night, four Texel tups, the same in Suffolks, four Charolais heifers and four Charolais bulls. Judges rank and mark the differences between the creatures in secret; contestants score them. Frighteningly complicated mathematics are done by frighteningly clever women sitting in front of an aga. Calculators tip tap, a quiet scurry of papers and a winner emerges whose judgment matches that of the judge. I did not win; though as it turned out, I am a good judge of bull.
They are cool customers these farming types. They march you to the creamy bull which is a thing of power and beauty. They flay it with their practised butcher's eyes, point and say: "Under that, the fillet," or "The hindquarter's where the eating is." Conversation is of bull semen in straws and the washed out embryos of calves. Breeding and the money breeding is worth; £55,000 for one Charolais bull recently. It makes me think when a farmer wants a wife; does he do as the rest of the world does? Catch a smile thrown by a pretty face? Buy her a drink? Cadge a kiss? Fall in love? Or, as he stands at the crowded bar with a note, folded and standing to attention in his hand, does he watch the way she moves across the room? Listen for the knock of a knee? Check the brightness of her eye? Span with invisible hands the spreaded width of her hips? Does he ask whether money will be well-spent?