Ambassador Bleich’s Strangely Interesting Experience Down Under

This one from US Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich (Read Journal: Getting my hands dirty):

“Today I added another unusual chapter to the strange, and strangely interesting, experience of being an ambassador. Not only did we have a good family day, but I will never look at my suits the same way again.

Photo from US Embassy Australia

Our family spent the morning at the Royal Canberra Show, where I’d been invited to sash the winning Poll Hereford bull and the grand champion Merino sheep. The show was far grander than any state fair or livestock show that I’d ever been to in the States. In addition to several stands for judging livestock, there was everything from fashion shows to amusement park rides to a shopping mall (we purchased more than our share of Cadbury chocolate “show bags”), exhibits, horse and buggy races, produce displays, demolition derby, diving pigs, and motorcycle jumps. We toured the whole range of activities with the president of the show, Rod Crompton and his wife Leonie.
As I watched the judges examine the merino sheep, they explained to me how they examined the thickness or length of the sheep’s coat (the “staple”), the size and consistency of the crimp in each strand (which helps the wool hold dye), and the fineness of the strands. The judges explained that people like me who have to wear a suit to work, are driving demand for fine and superfine merino sheep wool. They even introduced me to a few handsome rams who, they believed, might be responsible for one of my suits in the future (if I’m lucky). While the final choice of a grand champion was tough (we left it to the experts), we ultimately settled on a very impressive — and loud – ewe.”

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