It was a stirring sight to see thirty galloways and belted galloways in the ring at the Stewartry Show this afternoon in Castle Douglas. The sun shone off Cairnsmore of Dee and up to the Glenkens, and the beasts bellowed through their frizzy fringes and whisked their back-combed tails.
As a very small child of four, I remember being taken to see my grandfather’s galloways being shown at the Stewartry Show. The vast, sweet-smelling monsters stepped impatiently in their stalls and the farm’s name was hung proudly over “our” allocated corner of the marquee. Then they were out into the sunshine as a distorted voice read old familiar farm names over the loudhailer – the words are a poem in themselves – “Falgunzeon, Drumuckloch, Areeming, Monybuie, Fagra” and the phonetically fantastic “Ornockenoch”.
I remember odd details. Perched round the ring like glacial debris, crooked old hillmen posed in the sunshine, letting their preposterous blood-blown noses do the talking. The tents reeked of cow shit and stale beer; tobacco smoke and hot bodies in thick tweed, but outside there were gasps of August breeze off the hills, and swifts came screaming round at head height. I envied the boys my age who were given white coats and calves to lead around the ring, then consoled myself by guzzling several cubic metres of tablet, taking in the procession of cattle from the privileged, towering position of my father’s shoulders. His pipe sent rank, bitter blooms of smoke up my nose, but I didn’t care.
Flagrant, shameless nostalgia it may be, but each year provides a staggeringly vivid return to that day.