Wednesday 25 May 2011

What price a suntan?

   I have never really prayed for rain, it usually turns up eventually and then continues for too long. To be honest I have never really prayed for anything except possibly for the health of my family. But rain is needed now, here in France, badly needed. We have had nothing since February, nearly four months ago. Crops are failing, grassland burned up, hay bales scarce. My brother on the farm in UK is already rejoicing at the recompense of a poor harvest across France forcing the price of wheat up yet further. Then my colleague calls me, saying corn is so expensive he can’t afford to feed his animals any more and is selling pedigree bulls off as youngsters rather than feeding them through to fruition. The local guy around here who cuts lawns for a living is thinking of packing up because he has no work. I have even given up growing vegetables this year, except some tomatoes, as the cost of watering them twice a day becomes prohibitive, not to mention the time it takes.
   It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good and there will be an excess of fruit on trees this year but there is only so much of that we can process. The lambs seem to be doing well, they don’t really like a wet spring but I am struggling at present to shear the ewes as I cannot catch two of the wilder ones and am unable to build a coral to herd them into as I cannot get posts in the ground. I will have to soon, I know, but I keep putting it off at least until I get some help. We are fortunate we only have 9 sheep on three or four acres, so they still have enough feed; for now.
   With family problems in UK at the moment, I need to spend more time there than usual and have to rely on others to water plants when we are away, which is every other week. When I am here, to be honest it is too hot for hard labour and some of this years building projects will have to wait another year.
   Am I complaining, no not really, I have got a tan and I love the sun, after all that is why we came here. I am enjoying just filling my time writing, more and more words keep flowing as I embark on my 8th novel in as many months.
My only concern is we seen to have evolved into a world of extremes when it comes to weather patterns and in the long run there is going to be a price to pay, by someone, somewhere, sometime.

Saturday 7 May 2011

More confabulations

      Firstly I have to congratulate Mr John Collett who, in last months issue of R&DN, claimed to be goalkeeper in the 1906 Far Forest football team, which by my reckoning makes him in excess of 120 years old. Is he R&DN’s oldest reader, or was this a misprint? I am intrigued to know?
Although I say the above in jest, I do find it sad that once again the integrity in sport has been brought into doubt last month. A world champion snooker player who last year was caught blatantly cheating gets a small rap on the knuckles and then re-emerges to win the title again this year. Wrong surely? International football matches fixed, referees bribed? Motor sport, cricket, boxing, is any sport clean any more? Well I believe the problem lies possibly with Asia and its gambling habit. Yes in UK we sometimes like a little flutter, a few quid on the Grand National or a day at the point-to-point but throughout Asia the online gambling industry is spiralling out of control and largely unmonitored. As a consequence of this, billions of pounds are being made illegally as results of contests are continually being “fixed”. Once again, I can offer a solution to this inherent problem, this time in only two words. BAN IT. There you go, a simple answer would be to ban all gambling on any sport found to be corrupt, shut down all the online gambling web sites and monitor the industry; that would bring the sport back to honesty in twelve months. Sound a bit harsh? Well any other industry that was making billions of pounds illegally would never be allowed to prosper would they? With the possible exception of the world banks perhaps.
            On the subject of banks I hear the UK is looking to phase out the use of the chequebook. Why not? Holland did it years ago as has most of Europe with the exception of the French. Direct payments, online banking, secure card transactions are all common place in every industry aren’t they? Well, no actually, there is one industry that still relies heavily on the cheque book, it’s called Agriculture. It seems the average farmer still mails payments for everything by cheque and expects payment received in the same way. Certainly when speaking to one older member of the farming community this week, one Mr John Frazier, he claims it will throw his business into turmoil. “How could he trust giving out his bank details so that payments could all be made by automated transfer? It is open to fraud surely?” Based on how the banks have behaved over the last 2 years, he could well have a point?   
            I am extremely annoyed this week to read of the case of Kylie Grimes; yet another example of the common senselessness as the lunatics quietly take over the asylum. The above mentioned Kylie gate crashed a party at someone’s house, drank a bit too much and dived into the swimming pool, unfortunately injuring herself in the process. She then sued for damages against the house owner, a case which should have been looked at briefly and then slung out of court. But, such is the power of the underdog in law, the case was dragged through the courts, starting at a low level and eventually ending up in High Court at huge expense, over a four year period. The crazy basis for the law suit was that the swimming pool had inadequate signs to show which was the shallow end, despite the fact that you could clearly see the bottom.  Any sane judge would have pointed out, “if you cannot see the bottom, then your sight is evidently so bad (possibly due to inebriation) you would have little chance of reading a sign anyway.” Furthermore, any sane judge would have also mentioned that as the pool was half full of people standing in the same shallow end, with water up to their waists that, unless it was a party full of extremely tall basketball players, it was fairly evident that this was in fact the shallow end. The icing on this very sour cake was that the girl had been in the pool for at least 20 minutes prior to the accident. So why oh why does the case get awarded to this drunken teenager along with a princely sum of 6 million quid!? Because, dear reader, the legal world is rotten to its very core, that’s why. The law is not only an Ass, it wears a straw hat with holes for its ears and brays like Susan Boyle!
            Wendy and I are now back home in France although I am still making weekly trips back to UK. We arrived here to find the grass as high as an elephant’s eye, but generally the place is in reasonable order except that France, not unlike UK as I write, is in the midst of an exceptional drought. This week I planted out the 40 or so geraniums that were brought inside in the autumn, with the aid of a pick-axe! It got me round to considering, should the world eventually evolve into the globally warmed desert that some beardies are forecasting, I am sure I could offer some tips to Monty Don on my pioneering gardening techniques including (I kid you not) digging new tatties from the ground with a crow bar!
            For those of you who know her, my sister’s situation is improving slightly and she may be home from hospital in another month or so. I did manage a smile this week after a discussion with an NHS consultant when she made the following quote: “Sarah has problems with confabulation and perceveration, both of which are causing her some confusion!” Yes I had to look them up too!