Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I think you can go to one country show too many. We went to the border shepherds' show, cutting across the browning moorland and into the Cheviots. Bit of a problem - no sheep, courtesy of Foot and Mouth restrictions. At least we had the terrier racing. I swear to God my palate is jaded, because if the terrier racing could not do it for me what could? They had sixty terriers racing, boxing up five or so terriers at a time before letting them chase what looked like a fur tail on a piece of string, leaping a pipe at one point almost as big as they were. We could see the finishing line but not the start. Only one terrier finished the race in one of the heats; we were told the other dogs had a bit of a scrap at the start. Without jockeys, it was also difficult for them to know which way to face. In another heat, the commentator said: "We won't be starting just yet because I can see one head and four tails." Then there was the Cumberland and Westmoreland wrestling. This is very popular. A significant number of competitors were members of the local wrestling club. The advantage of being a member of the wrestling club is knowing how to throw your opponent to the grass; the disadvantage is the strip. White long johns, white vest; baggy pants outside of the long johns, sometimes in velveteen burgundy. But who is brave enough to tell a wrestler that the outfit does nothing for him? The men would lock their fingers together, wrapping their arms around their opponent, their cheek against the other fellow's cheek. They would stand apart, legs akimbo and lean into one another. Then they would attempt to toss their opponent to the ground, unbalancing, lifting up, wrapping one of their legs around one of his legs. In one heat between boys, the bigger opponent got hold of the littler boy and was swinging him round and round by the smaller boy's head. I was worried it might come off. It is the best of three falls. Sometimes if both competitors smash to the ground at the same time, it can be difficult to tell who won; sometimes it can be difficult to care. My boys needless to say loved it all: the terriers, the wrestling, the fair, the stalls. My husband loved it almost as much as they did. He said: "What did you think?" I said: "I think I need a few days in London."