Five fifteen on a misty, Saturday morning at the end of July, is quite a pleasant time of day to be up and about.
Through the living room window I can see our ewes and lambs picking out what decent grass there is on our chalk bank at the edge of the North Downs. Looking the other way across the valley I can see the trees poking their heads above the mist. I’m looking both ways in search of inspiration for this article but nothing much has stirred the grey matter. Selling livestock on the rostrum is a piece of cake compared with this – one gets up on there and it just happens, without having to put any thought into what words come next. The only thing we have to worry about is the trading men taking the mickey out of you if you make a cock up. Not a profession for a sensitive person!
Sensitivity. Now there’s a topic. I gather that some people get really upset by those writers who continually criticise and poke fun at people in high places - Qentin Letts for example just can’t find a good word to say about MPs of any party. Giles Coren finds it almost impossible to experience a decent restaurant anywhere, but I’m quite sure there are a whole raft of readers who find their articles quite amusing.
On the other hand, there will undoubtedly be the odd person who will turn the pages of The Times, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail with utter trepidation and who may have to seek solace in the Beano, the Dandy or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Having just had a look on the shelf where I store items that are meant to give me inspiration, all I can find this morning is a recipe for broad bean, pea and ham pasta, which looks so simple and tasty I fancy myself to cook it.
Also, an article in the Times which has informed us that an Iranian cleric has told followers that women who wear immodest clothes and are promiscuous are to blame for earthquakes. This was reported in the Iranian media which unfortunately forgot to remind the individual that in certain cases some couples when engaged in horizontal activities actually felt the earth move! I’m sure it is ill informed individuals who cause all the problems of the world.
Given that some people assume that I should report on agricultural matters on this page at greater length, I would remind the few readers who scan my scribblings that there are already a host of excellent contributors to this magazine who have forgotten more about farming than I have ever experienced.
Nevertheless, I contribute the following: the beef trade is dire, the lamb trade is just about adequate, the pork trade is OK and demand for arable commodities is non existent at any reasonable return for the grower. Oh and I have run a bearing on my Votex topper.
Unfortunately my tool kit consists of a four pound lump hammer and a roll of plasters – any help and advice would be helpful. The good news is that I haven’t seen a dead badger on the roadside for weeks – are they now an endangered species? The Larson trap is still doing its job and some foxes are too fat to run across the field. Management has organised a barbecue this weekend for a few friends. This entails me running around like a blue-arsed fly mowing lawns, putting up a gazebo, securing half a tonne of charcoal while all she does is check the weather forecast every ten minutes. Let’s hope I don’t overcook the meat and she doesn’t make enough salads to feed the village – where is Giles Coren when you need some advice?