The Real London Show 2015.

Snags can occur on the eve of a show however good the organisation and however willing and competent the organisers may be. If the penning contractors fail to deliver the pens and staging on time, such matters are beyond their control and all they can do is to give 110% in time and effort to overcome the problem.

Such was the case on the eve of The Real London Show this year as the contractors did not arrive until 11.55pm (setting up expected from 2pm per website programme). This turn of events was decidedly unhelpful and all that can then be done is to work through the night until the matter is resolved.  Ian Cinderby and Co plus Nancy Brookes (a USA visitor staying on site in a campervan and who pitched in to help) did a sterling job and it was not until around 3.00am that morning that all had been done and everything was under control.

With an entry of 913 cavies, even the simple task of putting numbers on pens takes a considerable time and I'm told that Nancy mucked in along with everyone else and did her share of the job.  Not all exhibitors take this attitude (as I've experienced with Writtle shows in the past) but Nancy certainly felt the need to help and I'm sure that was greatly appreciated.

As a consequence, all seemed very well organised by the time Graham Godfrey and I arrived on Saturday morning and I daresay several present had no idea of the hectic night's work that had preceded matters.

As I was well acquainted with Nancy through email contact and her earlier visit to Norton Lindsey in 2009, I spent quite a bit of my time in her company and it was a pleasure to have her as an overseas visitor. Other countries were also represented and I'm told that fanciers from Sweden, Denmark and Holland were either showing or judging. In fact, when it came to the final awards, the winner of the Best Emerging Variety was a Californian shown by a lady exhibitor from Holland. I hope she enjoyed everything about the Show and will come back next year.

I did have a brief chance to see some of the R V/New Variety judging and I do find the Black/light Red combination on the Californian quite appealing and attractive. A bit more type was needed on the one I saw but it is early days and they seem to be all the rage with quite a few fanciers. However, I hope this current popularity is not at the expense of the established Himalayan and that others go over the top with the appeal of this colour combination. One Rex fancier told me that people are trying to get the effect into Rex and the fear is that the experiment will be at the detriment of coat qualities. Rex like Abyssinians are all about coat properties and colour is very much a side issue.

Self Blues were also on display and they are attracting some interest. I'm still taking some time to really understand the colour. What looked to me, initially, as something like a rather light, washed out Slate was, in fact, described as a Self Silver. Apparently it is the dilute version of the Self Blue but I can't offer any further comment on this exhibit.

Of course, I did spend a little time at the DCC judging table where Kevin Lidbetter was officiating and doing his usual good job. Best Dutch went to Gary Clark's Red Dutch and it was good to see some consistency with this pig also getting Best Adult Dutch on the Real London side before taking second out of 40 in the Marked Adult Challenge. Well done Gary.

During the time that I was at the Dutch table, there was some concern over one particular exhibit. It looked quite big enough for the young classes but as I was on the other side of the table, I couldn't really make any observation at the time.

In show reports, one often sees the comment: 'well up to age' and this is an aspect of judging that can be problematic for whoever is behind the table. It is a pity and a fact of life that one cannot always trust what is put before one in an age class. However, it should be remembered that as a judge you O.D. not O.A. an exhibit and if the animal looks out of place in the class, you have the option of sending it off O.D. It's not an easy decision at the best of times.

Last year, some of the fanciers present told me that they would have liked to see trade stands more in evidence. I can see their point but it was pointed out to me that space determines matters and the preference is to have clubs stands and still sufficient room to give a spacious feel to the Show. I can understand this viewpoint if a choice needs to be made and it was good to see a good array of club stands this year. One complete side of the hall was filled with I think six stands (D & R CC, SCC, NTWCC, Teddy CC, joint NACC/DCC and National CC). Hopefully, I haven't missed anyone out and it was good to see Gerry and Lee (Southern Cavy Club) displaying an extensive and eye catching array of wares that fanciers could buy.

I had a good chat with them on this and that with one issue being the fact that the SCC policy on stud prefixes is more 'open-ended' than I would like. We agreed to disagree here but it would be nice if things could revert to the past protocol on things as I can remember when there were two Aztec Studs and two Rainbow Studs in operation but recognised by different clubs. The BCC Prefix Scheme obviates this possibility and the income does go to the benefit of the fancy e.g. a contribution in 2014 to this very Show.

Something that does crop up most years is the comment that the Show is expensive to enter. During a discussion on this matter, Nancy Brookes promptly disagreed as things are different in America. It may seem more expensive than your average local show but when the expenditure for just the hall and penning (plus the hire of additional tables) is in the region of £4,000.00, there is a need to charge that bit extra. I know several fanciers reduce their outlay by not entering the Real London classes but this is a pity as I have found that you often have a better chance of getting placed here than in the specialist shows. It has happened with my pigs on two occasions and if you are spending money on petrol and a day out why not avail your stock to the opinion of two judges rather than just one.

My recollection on the placing of the nine exhibits put up for Best in Show is somewhat hazy when it comes to the final countdown but there were three Long Hairs, three Selfs and three Agoutis with a certain person from Suffolk doing disgustingly well by having not one but three exhibits in the final line up. Hopefully, full details will be given elsewhere and Ian Cinderby was a real champion doing a heroic job placing these pigs whilst clearly suffering with a serious back problem. Best in Show went to Kathy Dudding with her 5/8 months Texel.

Photos of all the leading exhibits were taken by Lyndon Nowell in his usual good professional way and I hope that a link can be provided so that everyone can see and enjoy the quality of the exhibits present in this year's big event. I was going to have my own Agouti photographed as the cost is quite modest and my grandchildren would have loved to have had a snap of their favourite pig within my shed. However I never got round to it and, later, clearing up was in progress.

Finally, one should not forget the wonderful job that everyone does to make this event the Show of the Year. Apart from all that Val Lewis-Smith does so efficiently, it should be remembered that she has a great team of card writers and, in addition, there are people manning the sales pens and Liz Miles & Co seeing to the judges every catering need.

Thanks everyone; see you again next year.