Drawing up at the New Livestock Market last Friday for the screening there of Chewing the Cud (the film) I have to admit I was a little uncertain. Wasn’t this venue, new to me even as a volunteer on the project, going to feel just a little too new, without atmosphere, a bit clinical? Not like my memories of the old place………would it work?
The film was to be shown above the auctioneers box in the sheep ring and as I pushed the tightly fitting doors open with a slight woosh of air – yes, there it was, the distinct aroma of the herd. It was the right place and what a place. Full of people ranged around and upwards in the mini Roman amphitheatre, bathed in evening light.
Director, Rick Goldsmith’s introduction was followed by a few words from Jesse Norman and the film rolled. Despite “agricultural” seating the audience were engaged throughout. It was the second time I had seen the film and I suppose that, since I was familiar with the content, I noticed much more of the styling and cinematography this time, I think it must almost always be worth seeing a film over again. I’m not going to describe the film as I really think everyone should see it, I’ll just say that surprisingly, after sitting on very hard benches for an hour or so, the audience when asked, opted to stay put for a Q & A session rather than hoof it to the bar.
Marsha O’Mahony teased out more memories with questions directed to farmer and contributor Phillip Price; auctioneer Julian Dallimore; Chewing the Cud trainee, Abby and later market manager, Richard Hyde with the project workers making various contributions. We heard contributions from an audience, including memories of the “genetic” progress of Hereford Cattle Internationally in South America.
Marsha let slip that Richard Hyde was initially sceptical about the project, believing the farming community too “retiring” for film stardom. He happily conceded to the ring that the team and their approach had allowed stories to flow and continue to do so.
All this time I sat beside a local friend whose path in life had never crossed with anyone involved with livestock. He loved the treatment of the subject, the venue and the music used in the film. It had really captured he interest. “Can anyone come here during a sale?”, he asked tentatively and we agreed to meet for fish and chips on a sale day so long as he kept his hands in his pockets.