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The Vacuum - Issue 16 - Satan spacer The Vacuum - Issue 16 - Satan
Royal Ulster Agricultural Society Annual Show 2004
by Daniel Jewesbury
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On the day that the Balmoral Show rolled into town Belfast was laid low by a sudden infestation of flies. I found out from UTV that these were called St. Marks Flies; in my troubled mind, this brought forth an image of a faulty pair of Marks and Sparks casual slacks being returned for a full refund. Apparently they're called this because every year these filthy little ephemera hatch out near to the feast day of St. Mark, which must ruin the feast for him a little. For some reason, whether it was the unbearably mild weather, or the stillness in the air, the blighters came in greater profusion than is usual this year, and all across the city Prod and Taig alike engaged in a kind of bizarre St. Vitus dance as they vainly attempted to clear the air of the fetid coprophiles.
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The irony is that, out at Balmoral, the air was sweet with the annual festivities of the country-come-to-town. Many city-dwellers joked bitterly that the culchies had brought their winged friends with them but it seems that the flies were an urban manifestation only; the showgrounds were bathed in clear, golden sun, untroubled even by mite or flea.
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The show is a great coming together of our rural society, simultaneously a huge trade fair, one of the years most important social gatherings, a chance to compete in age-old pastoral pastimes like the shearing, showjumping and best-of-breed competitions, and, perhaps most of all, just a chance to see some fine beasts. Sturdy types eye up truly enormous, and very shiny, bits of agricultural machinery, while youngsters head for the rabbits, the chickens and the lambs, foals and kids in the childrens farm. I attempted to fend off a question from my 5-year-old charge concerning the exact nature of the extremely large, pendulous body parts that were dangling in front of her by explaining that this was his willy; hearing this anatomical inexactitude, the bull in question put me straight by letting forth a profuse, steaming stream of piss from its real willy. But I wasn't put off; I simply wasnt going to start explaining testicles at this juncture in the festivities, especially not such huge ones. One shudders at the nightmares such knowledge could evoke in one so young.
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Highlights for us included the pigs, who were very clean and yet still extremely smelly, and the doggy-showjumpers, who led their handlers a merry dance and cavorted around the many stunts arranged for them with genuine glee, even when they were disqualified for going the wrong way by the pusillanimous judge. I also bought an extremely handy attachment for my drill which sharpens anything, even things you thought would never be sharp again. We weren't sure what Tescos and Sainsburys were really doing there, given that we hear so much from the farmers representatives that their current impoverishment is due in large part to the supermarkets; but then, agriculture isnt some bucolic pastime pursued by ruddy-faced custodians of the countryside, it's a business, and the supermarkets are the largest agents in that business nowadays. One thing that was amply demonstrated was the fact that Northern Ireland is many years behind in the field of organic farming. We can expect that as concerns about obesity and healthy eating proliferate, the farmers will respond, providing they're able to negotiate the concomitant bureaucracy.
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Anyway, I marked my catalogue with the prizewinners names and will be purchasing my Welsummers soon. Belfast can go to Beelzebub and his hordes of flies; we'll be at Balmoral living the Good Life.
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