Saturday, 23 January 2021

Captain curfew

 Opps, so busy this month I nearly missed my slot. I think it was Douglas Adams who said, ‘I love deadlines, I like the whooshing sound they make as they go speeding past!’

The main reason for my distraction has been the podcast that I started last month, which seems to have taken off. Subject matter, and interviewees have expanded until this week we were discussing the fascinating Chicago stockyards with a cattle historian from Colorado. I have been running a ‘legendary cattlemen’ series, chatting with current breeders about some of the great breeders of yesteryear. Hopefully soon we will be covering Captain Richard de Quincey Quincey, someone who some of you older readers will recall as one of the greatest Hereford cattle breeders of all time, from Marden in Herefordshre. My father used to mention him but I had no idea what a clever man he was, not only breeding cattle but horses, dogs, birds and garden flowers at The Vern.

But, at this present moment, I will admit, I am sitting in the camper, while we take a well earned few days break by the coast. We are parked just below the world’s largest sand dune, a place called Pyla, just south of Bordeaux, a pile so big that can be seen from space.  I have the curtains drawn as the sun blasts in and am annoyed I forgot to pack my shorts. With the odd daff poking through the ground one could be forgiven for thinking Spring has sprung but I never get drawn into that myth until lambing has passed, which is still 6 weeks away as I write. And it is still minus four in the evenings. You will note we are still in France, our first winter here for 8 years, which has been somewhat tedious but necessary. As yet, we are still covid free and generally keeping our head down and away from others. We are still unsure where the vax will come from but I am sure there are still more folks needier than us as yet.

I’m not going to bang on about Brexit and covid, we have all had enough of that through the media, but would like to hope we have turned a corner on both of those subjects at last, so let’s keep fingers crossed. As we pass the year mark of the latter, which kicked in whilst we were one a skiing holiday, I am not sure any of us saw what was coming, nor how resilient the human race was.

However, we are still under curfew here in France, which has been extended from 8pm to 6pm. Normally this wouldn’t make a hoot of difference to us, as we rarely go further than our sitting room other than taking the dogs out for 30 minutes each afternoon. The bars and restaurants have been closed here since October, so no chance of nipping out for a beer. But now we are in the camper, I am not sure what complies, and nobody can tell me. Am I allowed outside the door to sit in a chair by the fire I lit at five? And if so, how far can I go from my door? Can the dog go out for a pee, with or without me? The last time I lived like this was at boarding school, when smoking was forbidden after 7pm unless you were a prefect or had special permission from matron! I would turn to social media for help but I have already p*ssed off just about every bearded wannabe headmaster in the land, just by mentioning I was heading out in the camper at all. Apparently, I am being irresponsible, leaving my homeland for my own entertainment. Despite the fact that the only person I have so far encountered was a lame farmer with an even lamer dog, inspecting his animals 200 yards away, I am deliberately putting lives at risk, according to John from Leicester, who knows things about things in general. Mary T even went so far as to say that it was me who killed her granny, or definitely someone like me. You see, social media has this power, this ability to provoke argument and incite hatred from an anonymous standpoint, and that is starting to keep me awake at night. In fact when an ex-president can use it to start a civil war, isn’t it about time we switched it off and went back to reading a book?

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