Monday 18 February 2013

Ice-cream Sunday

 Today is of a turning point for me in a few ways. For one thing it is a new chapter in technology as I step into the world of gadgets named after food products. Resisting the temptation to go with Apple, I am today typing up on my new Galaxy Ice-cream Sandwich tablet! Yes I know it’s a stupid name, but such is the tendency for computer companies to invent terminology, the race is on for who can conjure up the most ridiculous one and, so far, this takes the biscuit!
No matter, the idiotically named machine takes a wee bit of mastering but I am sure it will prove useful in the long run, if only to play solitaire on!
Moreover, I find myself out of retirement and back into my old career, albeit temporarily, of bovine shenanigans and politics, and what fun it is too. Well not exactly fun as I remember  it, particularly as many of my old muckers all seem to have aged considerably, but good to be back in the game for a couple of days.
To start with, the breed is Limousin – big, flame-haired with a temper to match - and the venue is Carlisle, that mecca for all pedigree breeders, which is buzzing as ever.
All of this I have experienced many times before. It seems a world away now,though, since I earned my living at this game amongst these vast creatures as a master-coiffure. In fact when I first got started in my cattle hairdressing career, this breed were fairly new off the blocks. Back then, a few dedicated cattlemen, who had a close eye on the future, spotted these beasts in the fields of mid France and started importing them into UK. Now, of course, the Limousin breed holds court in UK as its most prominent provider of beef, with pedigree registrations in excess of 20,000 per year.
So here I am once more, giving a friend a hand to dress a couple of bulls up for sale, and offering my age-old expertise in the hairstyling department. With combs and clippers, red hair flies this way and that until the beast is squared up like a well trimmed hedge and looking at its best, although it doesn’t seem to keen to comply with this irritation.
More irony arrives now, as we apply a liberal spray of coat-dressing designed specifically for this breed, to bring out the brightness of its red curly coat. As I wander around I note that the product we are using, called Limmo-shine, is still the favoured styling gel preferred by most. How ironic that it was dreamt up by one young man with a wide imagination and an eye on the future too – as that man was none other than yours truly.  I almost feel important as generations of younger cattlemen splash it onto their beasts as if the world depends on it, and wonder if things would have been the same if I hadn’t created this orange liquid in a mixing tub in my garden-shed all that time ago.
You see, in 1987, after an eye-opening visit to Canada, I invented my Ultragroom range of products, with a variety of shampoos and dressings tailored towards the pedigree beef cattle market. A short while after that, things went a little viral and next thing I know, I am shifting this stuff in 45 gallon barrel-loads and, for once, making some well deserved cash.
Then, when the time was right, I sold the whole shebang to a bigger and more businesslike company who made my range more available throughout UK, while I oversaw its evolution for a year or two. After that I brushed off my hands and walked away, with a casual ‘adios, nice knowing you’ attitude – and did something else.
Even then, although I knew I had hit on a winner, never in my wildest dreams did I foresee the longevity of this product range, that would still be at number one 25 years later, while I sat and wrote about it on my Ice-cream sandwich!
So it’s with hind-sighted nostalgia that I once again return, albeit briefly, to see the fruits of my younger work.
To be honest, not a lot has changed apart from the Ice-cream tablet and auctioneers looking younger. 
Do I miss it? Well I wouldn't want to earn a living from it anymore and I can do without the bruises thanks, but yes, I suppose part of me does. What I have realised this weekend is that the creativity that I must have expelled back then has inspired and evolved seamlessly into what I do for a living now. 
Bovine hairdressing to fiction writer - they certainly have one thing in common. Bull-shit!

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