Every so often a man must do what a man must do. Or something like that anyway. I was browsing through the books in a charity shop when I became aware of the presence of two ladies. From their comments they were mother and daughter and I’d guess the mother was about my age.
Mother was haranguing daughter because she felt that daughter was going to vote for the ‘wrong’ political party. Daughter was growing more and more hacked off by this but did remain civil and just squirmed a bit. The mother’s monologue was pitched at a volume that indicated that it was in no way intended to be a private conversation, being directed metaphorically over her daughter’s head at the entire shop. Have you noticed how the politically incontinent do this?
So I confess I weakened. Now I’ve shunned electioneering on the web, because it’s boring, irritating and an utter waste of everybody’s time. But here in the presence of real people I was tempted. So I turned to the mother and asked, in all innocence, a couple of questions that the party whose virtues she was trumpeting was having difficulty answering. Mother shut up briefly and daughter flashed me a smile and gave me a ‘thumbs-up’.
Mother relaunched the harangue so of course I just asked a few more innocent questions, when gaps appeared in the flow, mainly because she stopped for breath.
This discourse continued out into the street and when I turned one way and mother and daughter turned another, daughter gave me another smile and thumbs-up with both hands. Then she went on her way happily whilst mother chuntered about me instead of haranguing her daughter. Surely something I can mark up as a success.
Actually given the length of time I’ve been exposed to UK politics, it doesn’t really matter what the opinions of the mother were and what party she advocated, I’d still have been able to ask embarrassing questions to put her off her stride. Politicians and those who regard politics as a participation sport seem to forget that we, the great unwashed and unlearned, aren’t entirely lacking in observational abilities. We don’t just sit in a hole eating worms waiting for the wise to open the lid, let a little daylight in, and generously tell us what to think.
So when somebody starts spouting off as how their favoured party, be it Labour/Conservative/Libdem/UKIP (delete as you feel appropriate) has all the answers whilst conversely Labour/Conservative/Libdem/UKIP (delete as you feel appropriate) is the party of the anti-Christ they run into problems. Especially if they do this in the presence of people who’ve actually lived in the same country for a couple of decades and have a sense of humour. Although in my case I’m hoping to hold out for ‘determination to do my Chivalric duty’ as opposed to ‘sense of humour’ or ‘being a stirring beggar who just likes winding people up.’
But the whole thing started me thinking, which is always a dangerous situation to get into. There are various bodies, be they charities, political parties or churches which attempt to get our attention and win our support. Now the political parties largely seem to work on the principle that for most of the time they can get by with just hectoring us from afar, just so we don’t forget them. Then when they actually need us they deluge us with junk mail and candidates. The problem with this is that it doesn’t seem to work too well. People remember the hectoring as they drop the junk mail into the recycling.
The churches, perhaps because they’ve been doing it for longer, have tried a wider variety of stances. Yes some harangue you and thrust tracts through the door but don’t say hi when they meet you in the street. But the best have picked up on what Christ said about generally helping out and being nice to people.
Now in all candour, being nice to all people, the good, the bad and the politically incontinent, is tough and faced with a lifetime of it; most people would probably accept martyrdom as a preferred alternative. But we can see where in some congregations they find they have individuals who have a gift for dealing with people and a real determination to do something for the homeless, the dying, the prisoners. The successful churches get behind these people, providing them with the support they need to do the work, and those church members who like me find loving my neighbour damned hard work at times can still do our bit to support them and help keep the show on the road.
It reminds me of the quote, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Perhaps if our political parties tried to reach out to us through their good works rather than their speeches and promises, then we’d take them more seriously?
But frankly I don’t see it catching on. It’s not the easiest road to walk. The Christian church has been trying it for the last two thousand years with mixed success.
Oh and back to the real world, we have this blue faced ewe who lambed for the first time last year. It was a nightmare lambing and she had all sorts of problems after it. We weren’t even sure if she’d get in lamb this year. Anyway she did but it seems to have taken some doing because she was obviously going to be the last to lamb.
The others finished lambing at least a fortnight ago and our blue faced lady has remained in the pen, accompanied by another ewe who has lambed a while back but has metabolism issues. She was fine, unless the weather suddenly went cold, at which point she collapsed with severe low blood sugar.
Anyway, yesterday the decision was taken that this was getting silly, the blood sugar lady seemed to be sorted so the decision was taken to let them both out, into somewhere handy. We’d just have to hope that our blue faced ewe would be easy to catch and help if there were any problems.
This morning I went out to check sheep and the blue faced lady was there with her two new blue faced lambs, happy as larry and wondering what all the fuss was about.
Sometimes a lady can do no less either.
The problems a lady can face!
(In paperback or as an ebook)
As a reviewer commented, “I always enjoy Jim’s farming stories, as he has a way of telling a tale that is entertaining but informative at the same time. I’ve learned a lot about sheep while reading this book, and always wondered how on earth a sheepdog learns to do what it does – but I know now that a new dog will learn from an old one. There were a few chuckles too, particularly at how Jim dealt with unwanted salespeople. There were a couple of shocks regarding how the price of cattle has decreased over the years, and also sadly how the number of UK dairy farms has dropped from 196,000 in 1950 to about 10,000 now.
Jim has spent his whole life farming and has acquired a wealth of knowledge, some of which he shares in this delightful book.”