Monthly Archives: July 2018

Pontifications along a road less travelled. OK so what is university for anyway?



So you’ve seen the picture, what is it all for anyway?
I mean, what is university for? Obviously universities do think that at least part of the reason that they’re there to do vocational training. Otherwise we wouldn’t have them producing doctors, teachers and youth workers. All these professions are very ‘hands on’ and with all of them you probably learn far more when you’re actually doing the job than you did at university or college or whatever. But without that piece of paper, the degree certificate, the meal ticket, you won’t get the job that the degree barely qualifies you to do.

But actually it’s a much bigger debate.

To quote a Guardian article that says it rather well. “For Humboldt, a German philosopher and diplomat, a university was to do with the “whole” community of scholars and students engaged in a common search for truth. For Newman, it was about teaching universal knowledge. For Robbins, an economist commissioned by the government of the time to draw up a report on the future of higher education, universities had four objectives: instruction in skills, promotion of the general powers of the mind, advancement of learning, and transmission of a common culture and common standards of citizenship.”

In the US the debate also continues. To quote, “The purpose of higher education in the United States has been a topic of debate for many years. We have a 200-year tradition of the liberal arts where colleges are focused in preparing individuals for productive contribution through character development. More recently there has been a demand that there be a greater focus on career development. It is in the resolution of this tension that we progress in improving the enterprise of higher education.”


I hate to say it folks, but even I as a simple farm boy know that running a process you don’t understand, seeking results you’ve never actually decided upon, isn’t any way to guarantee success.


So let’s go down the list.

“A community of scholars and students engaged in a common search for truth.”

Well that one’s dead in the water. In a world of no-platforming and similar, the search for truth in anything but technical fields incomprehensible to the political active is doomed.


“About teaching universal knowledge.”

Almost by definition, there’s too much knowledge out there to teach it all to any one person any more. Even the stuff that is agreed universally is spread across mutually incomprehensible fields.


“Instruction in skills,

Well we can do that. ‘Doctors and teachers exams must pass, if err they wish to rise above the working class…..’


“Promotion of the general powers of the mind.”

The may well happen. But if it does, does it happen to all, some or just a few? And how do you do it reliably anyway. Indeed are the university staff in contact with students trying to do this anyway?

“Advancement of learning.”

This probably happens on an individual level. Everybody comes out of university knowing more, even if all they’ve learned is that it was an expensive way to put off serving fries in McDonald’s for three years.


“And transmission of a common culture and common standards of citizenship.”

Don’t even go there. Stand up and say that in some universities and you’ll be no-platformed.


“Preparing individuals for productive contribution through character development.”

I think this is one most people would cling to. Back when less than 5% of the population went to university it might even have been possible to achieve. But now in many courses there may not even be the personal contact time between educator and the individual student for the educator to know a student well enough to know what their character is, never mind develop it.


“A greater focus on career development.”

Some courses are career orientated, always have been. But with some courses the only career they open up directly is teaching the course either at university or at a simplified level in school.


In simple terms, at some point between the age of sixteen and twenty-one you become an adult, and have to first support yourself, and then perhaps go on to help support a family. This basically happens whether you go to university or not.

In fact a cynic might comment that it might be more likely to happen if you don’t go to university.

So for some people it will make sense to take some sort of course in that period which will enable them to enter their chosen career.

But for others it’ll make far more sense for them to enter employment and then pick up education as you go along. I know men in their forties who’ve worked since they were sixteen and who hold the recognised equivalent of a university degree and a masters degree.

For others again university might be the place for them to go in their middle years with the children left home and the mortgage about paid off. After all people will be looking at an active and working life stretching into their seventies. So three years in university when in your fifties, bringing to the table a wealth of lived experience, could be far more useful that when you’re in your late teens.


But whilst this model might suit us, will it suit the university industry which is just geared up to pile an ever increasing number of students through, mortgaging their futures to fund and justify its current existence?


No academics were harmed in the writing of this book


As a reviewer commented, “These are four excellent short stories introducing the early days of Benor. Each tale pulses with humour as the well-drawn characters engage in various adventures. Each story features great dialogue, lots of good food, wine and ale, all taking place in a believable and well-drawn world where the streets pulse with life. The reader gets a powerful sense of being there in a real world with real people going about their real lives.

I look forward to reading the next book and wish I’d read this one far sooner.”

Wool gathering


Somebody was commenting about wool prices and how much wool was worth.

Well at the bottom end of the market a Herdwick fleece can weigh up to 2kg and is worth perhaps 25pence per kilo. So your hard won fleece could be worth a whole 50p

Jacobs, popular with smallholders and others have a better quality fleece, perhaps worth 45p a kilo. A nice fleece can weigh 2.5kg so you’re in the big money with a fleece worth perhaps £1.12.

If you look at a breed like the Romney, the wool is better again, I’ve seen Romney fleeces valued at £1.25 a kilo, and with a 3kg fleece this can bring in the magnificent sum of £3.75. Obviously the prices change year on year, but generally better wool is worth more.

The fly in this particular ointment is that paying somebody to shear your sheep is probably going to cost about £1.20 a head. Things are better than they were. Unless you’re unlucky or have a lot of mountain breeds, your wool cheque has a chance of paying the bill for clipping.  The obvious thing to do is to have some nice sheep with nice wool, keep it really clean and consider supplying the hand spinners


The problem with wool is that it’s no longer worth most farmers breeding for wool quality.

If you are on the rough hills then you’ve got Herdwicks, or Swaledales or similar. The whole breed is about survival and producing a good mother who can raise decent lambs. If you’re in the lowlands, meat is king, it’s what pays the bills. The big of money you get for the wool isn’t worth making any changes in the breed that might reduce its potential in important areas.

Obviously in the past it was different. If you read the Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters


then you’ll see the old way where wool was so valuable castrated male lambs were kept for several years just for shearing for wool, rather than slaughtering them for the meat.

Things got so bad with wool prices that people started breeding sheep that shed their wool, one breed, the Easy Care, sheds its wool. If you look in the photograph at the top you’ll see how there is still a bit of wool left on their backs but the rest has already fallen away naturally.

Now the price of wool has picked up a bit, for anybody but the rough hill breeds it does at least pay the cost of clipping. But unlike in my grandfather’s early days it’ll never pay the rent.


But if you’re interested in wool, you’d do worse than visit Woolfest next year


Or you could solicit the opinion of one who knows?



The fourth of these collections of anecdotes, rants, pious maunderings and general observations on life. Yes we have dogs, quads, sheep and cattle, but in this one we follow the ‘lambing year.’ It starts with ewes being put to the tup in late autumn and finishes in summer with the last of the laggards lambing.
But as well as this we have endless rain, as well as sleeping in a manger. Be brave and you’ll meet young ladies in high heeled cowboy boots, Sir John Moore of Corunna, brassieres for cows, and, incidentally, David Essex.


As a reviewer commented, “Yet another quiet, but highly entertaining, amble through Jim Webster’s farming life, accompanied by Sal, his collie extraordinarie.
Sheep, cattle, government eccentricities and wry observations are all included”

The world of cute lambs and the tuna melt panini.


It has been said that the world is a magical place full of people waiting to be offended by something. This is probably true, but today, perhaps by accident, I might not offend anybody at all. I know it seems unlikely but in an infinite universe pretty well anything should be possible.

So this morning another hogg lambed. Working backwards on our fingers she wasn’t technically anyway near any of the tups when the lamb was conceived. So how had she managed it? All I can say is that she isn’t the first young lady who has wandered in shyly carrying a baby and hoping against hope that the overall atmosphere of cuteness will stop people asking difficult and embarrassing questions. So anyway the proud mum has brought her offspring into a parched world which is somewhat at odds with the world the other lambs arrived into. Instead of the ‘beast from the east’ we’re reliving the spirit of 1976, and the only green thing in the photograph is a thistle.

When it gets old enough to discuss things with other lambs, their tales of cold winds and driving rain are going to be met with stubborn disbelief. And of course, when you’re this age, grass has always been brown and crispy.

Still it’s happy and mum’s happy and everything’s fine.

Sal is also happy. Sal is a small Border Collie bitch with a taste for the finer things in life. We already knew she had a liking for pizza and warm sausage rolls. But the other day, through circumstances too complicated to discuss now, we acquired a very slightly time expired tuna melt panini.

Now I realise that the world contains many people who adore tuna. I admit to being someone who doesn’t particularly like tuna. So I sliced it as you would a loaf and dropped some pieces in the bottom of Sal’s food bowl before adding the biscuits.

Sal has added tuna melt panini to her list of foods that make for a superior dining experience.

So not long after feeding her I noticed that most of the sheep had moved from one field to the next. This is a good thing, tomorrow they’ll have to be fastened in the other field anyway so that we can take a fence down. So I collected Sal with the idea of moving the rest of them through and shutting the gate on them.

Sal shot off towards the sheep, screeched to a halt and ran back to her food bowl, grabbed another piece of her panini and then went to move the sheep. Personally I suspect that it’s the cheese rather than the tuna but even so, she seems to enjoy it. I can imagine the advertising slogan. ‘Border collies prefer our panini to sheep.’

Now amongst the sheep were our young mum and her lamb. They’d found a place in the shade, sitting in a cattle creep feeder. Sal rapidly moved the rest of the sheep through the gate and then came back to glare at the laggard. Time was wasting; panini doesn’t eat itself you know.

But the concerned mum wasn’t going out of her way to be cooperative. Sal slots nicely into the ‘wolf’ end of a sheep’s recognition chart and there was no way she was taking her darling child out there into the blazing sun with wolves prowling.

Sal couldn’t get in because our young mum nicely blocked the entrance and was perfectly happy to come out at speed, forehead first if Sal tried it on. So eventually I had to go in, collect the lamb and mum followed behind me, muttering under her breath about the fact that the world seems to be going to the dogs.

Sal trotted behind, moderately happy with the way things were finally moving forward.

Then with the last two in the field and the gate shut, she glanced briefly at me before running off to finish her tea.



Oh yes, and I got a book review, well two actually



A Measured Response

Benor the cartographer is offered a job away from home with unusually generous pay. It all has to be done on the quiet, too. Something’s up. Benor has a murder to solve. I thought he had, but there’s more to come. This story is a murder mystery and a comedy of manners, set in a world of fantasy. If you like a genre mashup, this is brilliant. The characters and their relationships and banter would make it worth reading even if it didn’t have a plot – but it does. Another winner for me.




A Licence to Print Money

Someone has tried to cheat Benor and his young ‘apprentice’ Mutt. They set out, with a little help, to redress the balance. Another in this series of Port Naain novellas that had me smiling. They are not belly-laugh stories but full of wry, clever and thoughtful humour. Often, it’s the way he tells them. I’m always up for more of these stories.


go on, treat yourself, because you’re worth it.

Pontifications along a road less travelled.  Shall they fold their tents and as silently steal away?



Let us imagine a purely hypothetical situation. Because it obviously couldn’t happen could it? I mean, not in a civilised country!

But anyway let’s assume you have a young man. In this case stress the young. Oh we not doubting the man part of it, but if he was any younger you’d probably call him a youth, but that’s verging on being an insult nowadays. Because youths are the ones who hang around on street corners and get into trouble with the police.

Still, accept the ‘man’ part of it but stress to yourself the ‘young.’

Anyway, just to make things difficult for him, let’s assume he’s been in ‘care.’ With several different local authorities; which screws up his hopes of getting much in the way of education.

Obviously I’m gilding the lily here for the sake of hypothetical example, because they say it could never happen.

“And Brutus is an honourable man.”


Then, just to put a tin hat on it, imagine that because of the complexity of the benefits system, he applies for the wrong benefit, doesn’t get his rent paid and ends up homeless.

So the local authority is asked to step up to the mark and do its bit to rescue one of our fellow citizens. They spring into action, and what do they provide him with?
A tent.


“I would not do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,

Who, you all know, are honourable men:”


I suppose it’s a consolation to know that we’ve not got to that situation with young women yet.

And as one older chap pointed out to me, it never does any good coming to the attention of the authorities if you’re a young man. Some of his contemporaries were noticed and were given a rifle and are now buried somewhere foreign but exotic. To be fair, there are times when the state does want the services of young men, but they are thankfully few and far between.

But still, when you’ve got your tent, where on earth do you pitch it? Ideally it should be somewhere secluded where the kids won’t find it and torch it, perhaps with you inside. But close enough to the town centre to walk in to try and talk to the various agencies who between them might find you somewhere to live. Ideally a place with a door you can lock behind you, not canvas that might be burning even as you discuss your uncertain future.


At this point I can imagine people are gnashing their teeth and talking about wicked tories.

But actually the local authority who handed out the tent is labour controlled.

Yet, I hear you cry, it’s the wicked tories who robbed the local authority of the money to do anything.

Which is fine, but I’d ask another question. If you’re a councillor for this authority, how do you face yourself in the shaving mirror in the morning? (Or the appropriate female equivalent however you self-identify.) If there’s the money to pay attendance allowance to councillors, if there’s money to pay for ‘hospitality’ then perhaps, just perhaps, it could be used to ensure that young men get better provision than just a tent?

“Will you be patient? will you stay awhile?

I have o’ershot myself to tell you of it:

I fear I wrong the honourable men.”

One thing you notice when you get involved in this area of the charity world. Politicians have a very nuanced attitude to these charities. If they’re in government then the charities working in this area are a reproach. These bodies are proof that all is not well. Charities working with animals or foreigners are fine, but those who’re picking up the pieces after our ‘social care system’ has run amok through people’s lives are a pretty strident rebuke.

If the politicians are in opposition then the charities are handy. You can point to them as proof that your opponents policies are not working. Except that everybody knows that the need was there before and will still be there when governments change. Hence even oppositions tend to be nuanced. You don’t want to say anything that will be quoted against you when you eventually gain office.

And yes, there are honourable exceptions; very honourable exceptions. It’s a pity that they’re the exceptions.


And so the system grinds on, volunteers apply sticking plasters. Volunteers keep people alive, showered and even dressed in clean clothes so that when they have to go to an interview they can feel some self respect.

We’re getting it off pat, this church houses a Foodbank, that church houses a clothes bank, that church has shower facilities and can provide clean underwear.

But I’m afraid that we’re getting to the stage where we really ought to remember the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who said, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”


“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”


Pontifications along a road less travelled. Kids today, they show no respect.



I realise I don’t count. Brought up outside town I was driving tractors at the age of eight. At the age of fifteen I just walked out of a whole class detention at 3:45pm precisely explaining that some of us had work to do. I’d promised my father I’d start milking because he needed to go to a farm sale to try and buy something. So I courteously told the teacher that if this was a problem they’d have to take it up with him. (They never did.)
But something is going wrong.
Let’s get one thing straight here. It’s not the kids that are going wrong. They only know the way they were brought up. So what are the parents doing wrong?
And how exactly did the grandparent generation screw up to produce the parents?
I was reading a post somebody had made on their facebook page which, thanks to the wonder of algorithms, turned up on my wall. Effectively what had happened is that he’d gone to the Britain First (or some other such facebook group he found nasty and unpleasant.) When you go to a new group, facebook tell you which of your friends liked the group. He’d discovered that he’d several ‘facebook friends’ who were in the group so he immediately unfriended them.

And then proceeded to brag, virtuously, about his deed.

So out of curiosity I went to the same group, and lo, it was true. There was a list of my ‘facebook friends’ who’d liked the group. I looked at the list, nodded and moved on.

Then below his post I commented that, yes, I’d done the same. He immediately replied with, “Did you ‘unfriend them.’

To which I replied, ‘No, they’re real people, I know them in the real world.”

I did. They were decent young men. The sort of lads who, if they found you’d dropped your wallet, would have raced after you to hand it back. They’re in work and they’re hard working. Some of them are in retail, putting up with a lot of gobby crap from people of their parent’s generation who’ll complain about them without even raising their eyes from their phones as they do it.

These are the ones who’ll be working to contribute towards my state pension should the government ever deign to pay me one. They’re the ones we send to unpleasant parts of the world to die because some muppet in Westminster feels the urge to ‘send out a message.’ I’m not sure any more of how many friends I have with PTSD!


But anyway, just a thought; if you want people to respect you, how about being worthy of respect?



At this point I’ll normally try and sell you a book. But you know what. Somehow I just haven’t got it in me. If you want to do me a favour, when you’re in the coffee shop or supermarket or whatever, just put your phone away and chat pleasantly with the young person who’s serving you. Show them how a proper adult behaves.

Pontifications along a road less travelled. Citizens, honest toil awaits


Gather round citizens and briefly rest from your labours. But not for long, our new society will not build itself. Refreshed by the stirring words of those who have so heroically marked out our path we shall strive to exceed what we have already achieved. Fellow Stakhanovites we must work without expectation of reward. ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.’ Not for us the hoarding of petty pleasures, the grasping for ever more of the dross that the wages of a corrupt system will buy you. It is the duty of a citizen to pour themselves into the task the State has found for them and accept, at the end of the day, the few simple pleasures the State affords you.

Pot 1, for those who fall behind production quotas and the disabled, will comprise 600gm rye bread, 100gm kasha (buckwheat porridge), 500gm potatoes and vegetables, 128gm fish, 30gm meat, 10gm sugar and 20gm salt.


Pot 2, for those who fulfil production quotas, comprises 1,200gm rye bread, 60gm wheat, 130gm kasha, 600gm potatoes and vegetables, 158gm fish, 30gm meat, 13gm sugar and 20gm salt.


For Stakhanovites, those who exceeded the quotas; will be added 200gm bread, 50gm wheat, 150gm potatoes and vegetables, 34gm fish and 150gm meat.


Now citizens I have heard rumours that some counterrevolutionary elements have been whispering amongst themselves about ‘work-life balance, job satisfaction, career progression’ and other such nonsense.
Remember citizen the second of the sacred and fundamental laws! “Every citizen will be a public person, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.”

The State will feed you; the State will provide you a simple bunk bed on which you may enjoy the slumber that comes to those who have truly laboured. The State will tell you what you must do to serve. Your job satisfaction comes from knowing that your labour is directed by those of your fellow citizens who are far wiser than you.

Take as your beacon the shining example of the citizens who laboured in the mines of Kolyma. Although many were class traitors and similar scum, they sought salvation through labour, and gave their worthless lives that the State could build the new world we have been promised.

Or take as your standard bearers the heroic prisoners justly cast into jail by our Chinese comrades. They have not baulked at making their very organs available for the good of the State. Ask yourself citizen, do you really need two kidneys? Is it not a sign of significant capitalist tendencies to want to hoard both of them when the State already knows of a worthy recipient?


No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.”


And if anybody asks you to sacrifice something for a cause, to ‘take one for the team,’ then you know it’s to their advantage, not yours. If it was to your advantage, they’d have told you.



A collection of anecdotes, it’s the distillation of a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England. I’d like to say ‘All human life is here,’ but frankly there’s more about Border Collies, Cattle and Sheep.


As a reviewer commented, “A delightful, chatty collection of jottings, which capture the mindset of sheep and their shepherd on a day to day basis. Thank you for this refreshing ramble in the Cumbrian countryside, Jim!”

Pontifications along a road less travelled, but it’s on the website.



A friend of mine was trying to get hold of her bank. The problem was that you cannot speak to a person, all you get is menus. You now have to email them. They promise they will answer the email after three days, but a week later she was still waiting.

She wanted to tell them somebody had died and obviously the account needed dealing with. Finally after searching the website for the umpteenth time, she found a note about bereavement and there was actually a phone number. The person she talked to was good, helpful and hopefully the matter is sorted.

Once upon a time, if you didn’t want to hand out information to somebody you had to hide it. To quote the late, great, Douglas Adams;-


“But the plans were on display…”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”


But now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you merely have to stick it on the organisation’s website and it’s gone for ever. Obviously you have to be technologically competent. The last thing you want is for people to find it by accident using google.

So make sure it can only be accessed from a drop down menu, which itself drops down from close to the bottom of another drop down menu. If it’s at the bottom of the menus, it ensures that people looking on something with a small screen will struggle to find it. Not only that, but even with large screens the menus will disappear if the mouse moves a twitch in the wrong direction.

Oh yes and put it in with other stuff which is only vaguely related. Obviously you cannot legitimately hide it in with something totally unrelated. But let’s assume that you’ve got stuff you want to hide about Harrogate. Perhaps one of the staff in your branch there has been found guilty of miss-selling stuff. So obviously that’s a personnel issue and surely nobody can object if you file the Harrogate stuff in the personnel section. And because of GDPR you can make it password protected as well.

Even when organisations aren’t trying to hide stuff, some of them ought to realise that merely putting it on the website isn’t enough. I was once trying to find out something about Animal Health regulations and contacted our State Veterinary organisation. (Which keeps changing its name, which makes internet searching such fun).

The lady at the other end asked, “Have you looked at our website?”

Proudly I replied, “Of course not. Life’s too short.”

There was a brief period of silence and she said, “You’re right, it is isn’t it.”

If ever I get to the stage where I’m browsing that sort of website in my leisure hours, it’s probably time to up the medication!



Oh, but given that you’ve found this website, I thought I’d do the decent thing and suggest that you read a good book instead.


Personally I’d recommend

Yours for a mere ninety-nine pence!

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Not only have we got Gentlemen behaving badly, we see Port Naain by starlight and meet ladies of wit and discernment. There are Philosophical societies, amateur dramatics, the modern woman, revenge, and the advantages of a good education. All human life is here, or at least such of it as Tallis will admit to.

Pontifications along a road less travelled, blog that, darling.



Somebody pointed out this photograph to me with the comment that somebody had kicked off a row over the university offering a qualification in Mansplaining.

I just shrugged. I mean if they want to get upset about something to do with universities, perhaps they’d get upset about the fact that working class white males are such a rare beast in universities. Apparently young women who were on free school meals are 51% more likely to go into higher education than comparable young men.

Another mate looked at the photograph and commented that he assumed it was the common room in his daughter’s primary school on ‘dress down Friday.’ The man is the janitor. (26% of teachers in England are men – accounting for 38% of secondary and 15% of primary school teachers.)
Also next time they give out the A level or GCSE results, just check the photos in the local paper. After looking at the photos of successful candidates in our local paper I was left to conclude that boys no longer did A levels. Certainly they rarely seemed to get their photos in the paper over it.

But never mind. Perhaps I should point out there are times when the State decides that there aren’t enough men entering a certain occupation. If the State decides it’s important enough, it just conscripts them, hands them a rifle and a uniform and leaves them to get on with it. Perhaps in the interests of fairness we ought to merely conscript into some trades and professions to get the gender balance correct. At the age of 16 you’d get assigned, based on a quick physical examination, to the trade and profession the computer has assigned you, taking no account whatsoever of anything so gender based as your interests or aptitude.

Do you get the impression I’m not taking this whole debate entirely seriously?


But anyway the Southern Universities Network did a survey of what we might call young working class males and asked them why they didn’t go to university. Some of the things they discovered were ;-


  • Males from low HE (Higher Education) participation areas appear less motivated by financial rewards than their peers from areas with higher HE progression rates, and more motivated by finding a career that suits their interests and skills.


  • Males from low HE participation areas were less convinced in terms of their interest in HE at the pre -16 stage of education.


  • They were also less likely to say that they would enjoy being a university student and that university is necessary for the career they have in mind. They were much less likely to view HE as affordable and post -16 learners were concerned about their ability to get in and fit in. Overall, HE is perceived as a risky strategy.


  • Alternatives to HE, including progression to apprenticeships, were frequently viewed as a ‘better’ option by vocational learners, although this may well reflect the increased understanding they had about this route compared to HE.


And the Southern Universities Network response, to find ways to encourage more of them to go to university. After all that was the whole purpose of the exercise. If people stop going to university some of the people working in Universities might have to get a job.


Actually it strikes me that these lads had their heads well screwed on. I know too many people with degrees who are asking the age old question. “Do you want fries with that?”

But then I’m wary of being accused of mansplaining if I go on for too long.

But anyway, if you think somebody is mansplaining to you, then you can get upset about it and make a fuss.

Or you could do what men have been doing for millennia in similar circumstances when a lady is talking to them. Just get on with thinking about whatever it was you were thinking about, and say ‘yes dear’ at appropriate intervals.

(In reality the ladies I know have long ago mastered their coping strategies for both ‘mansplaining’ and inattentive husbands. I shall say no more more.)


There again, if you want things explained properly, ask the dog

As a reviewer commented, “This is the third collection of farmer Jim Webster’s anecdotes about his sheep, cattle and dogs. This one had added information on the Lake District’s World Heritage status. This largely depends upon the work of around 200 small family farms. Small may not always be beautiful but it can be jolly important. If you want to know the different skills needed by a sheep dog and a cow dog, or to hear tales of some of the old time travelling sales persons – read on! This is real life, Jim, but not as I know it.”