Fat Hands

she used to sit in this cafe, and just face the wall. And it wasn’t coffee she was drinking

Doggie Ranting

Posted by Alix on 14 March 2007

This Sunday I went up to Birmingham for Crufts with the Atommick Brane. There really are just dogs everywhere, although it felt less like a celebration of dogs than a trade fair for pet food manufacturers. It sounds obvious, but there was no glamour to it – as we all filed out of the labyrinthine NEC afterwards we came head on with one of the Best in Show finalists and their handler, trying to push through the huge crowd of tweedy ladies going in the opposite direction, who were all oblivious to the Malamute brushing against them who’d just been in the very same ring as Fabulous Willy.

Other observations include:

  1. The judge announces the winner very quickly, and announces it first, before any runners up are announced. None of this Davina McCall-esque teasing ‘and the winner is……’.
  2. As soon as the winner was announced the audience leapt up to leave, and the subsequent trophy awarding was ignored by everyone. They could have totally milked all of this, and made it a much more exuberant affair, as it was it felt rather businesslike. I’m not advocating it should get the full on TV treatment where every last thing is discussed to the point of tedium, but something more like the Proms, dignified but definitely celebratory.
  3. The Friends For Life award display of children singing Whistle Down The Wind was one of the cringeiest things I’ve ever watched, possibly surpassing the unease I felt when I went to watch Blind Date being filmed. I hear this bit of Crufts was not shown in its entirety on the BBC 2 coverage, and with good reason.
  4. Doggie Dancing is hilarious, but wrong.

I was very unimpressed with the following:

  1. The tickets said doors at 4pm, programme starts 5pm, so we arrive around 4.30pm to find that all the dog exhibitors/ food vendors/ everyone was packing up, so we basically arrived at the end. It would have been really nice of the Kennel Club when they sent out the tickets to have possibly included some kind of information about the event, perhaps explaining that the times on the tickets were for the events in the Arena, and that in fact there would be things going on from 9am in the exhibition halls. There’s an appropriate level of event information to impart when organising things like this – too much is patronising, but it’s better to patronise than under inform. A well-written FAQ goes a long way. Which brings me to my next point..
  2. Some kind of effort could have been made on the signage front within the NEC. It’s a big place, but there was practically nothing in the way of visitor information. We spent a good 20 minutes trying to find the way into the Arena, which we eventually found tucked away round a corner right at the back of one of the exhibition halls. We only found it because we overheard a couple who were going in that direction and followed them. Until we rounded the corner into the Arena we saw nothing indicating that we were going in the right direction. I’m usually pretty good with finding my way, but this left me completely flummoxed and incredibly annoyed. All we saw were multiple signs in the main foyer saying ‘CRUFTS’ with arrows pointing in all directions, which is no fucking use when you already know you’re at Crufts. Had we arrived earlier (see point 5) we could have spent £6 on a programme, as it was these were long gone, and the information stands had been abandoned.
  3. The whole place was full of litter. Like, loads of it.
  4. Not so surprising but all the food was crap. I’m not sure why we put up with overpriced rubbish at big events. For a start it’s unfair that you’re not allowed to bring in your own food, so there should at least be some decent options once you’re in the venue, rather than a £3 hot dog (a dry baguette (all wrong for a start, it has to be a roll) plus a lacklustre sausage and a bit of mustard. It was almost inedible). Also it was not clear whether the chocolate buttons I bought from the pick and mix stall were for human or canine consumption. I ate them all and concluded that all of them had tasted a bit ‘doggy’. Dogs can’t eat human chocolate, did you know?

I am quite bitter about various aspects of Crufts. This is mostly to do with the organisation of the event, rather than the dogs, which were lovely. It just annoys me when there’s a load of fairly simple measures that would make for a pretty good day out which have been overlooked, so instead the day is tainted by the build up of small irritations. It felt like they’d not quite decided whether it was an event for the competitors or for the spectators, and I think spectators got the raw deal out of it, as it felt like no one had really bothered to think that hard about their needs. Take that, The Kennel Club!

Blurry photos here.


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