Funny Old World

There are times you have to ask where all the grown-ups have gone to. I won’t say that the lunatics are running the asylum but there are a lot of people setting out the rules who obviously haven’t a clue how the world works.

I know a chap who is going into hospital for an operation. He has to self-isolate first. For a fortnight. Apparently they expect him to sit at home for two weeks, with no income because he’s self-employed.

He was chuntering about this and somebody he does do some work for came up with a solution. He has a lot of slurry that needs carting. So this chap is going to self-isolate, carting and spreading slurry. As he said, he’ll be working on his own, in his own tractor, with his own slurry tanker. Nobody will stop to chat with him and he’ll spend much of his time in the middle of fields with nobody within several hundred yards of him. On the positive side, he is still earning money.

The interesting thing is that it’s pretty much his normal life anyway. Obviously if anybody asks, he is ‘self-isolating’. But given the utter lack of understanding he met from the pen-pushers, he’s decided to be vague as to details if it ever occurs to them to ask.

The other day I was talking to a chap who works for a ‘fallen stock’ company. In the good old days we just called them knackers. (English definition. “A person whose business is the disposal of dead or unwanted animals, especially those whose flesh is not fit for human consumption.”) Anyway, as he was filling in the form that accompanies the animal, he was quietly reading out the questions as he answered them. Now the form he was tackling isn’t a form I’d ever be called to fill out. The farmer doesn’t normally see this one. So he put in the date of death, which was the previous day. Then he came to ‘time of death’ and just put down 5:45pm.

You may have to be in the industry to understand how facile that question is. Unlike hospitals, we don’t have anybody sitting at the bedside of the animal. Indeed in many cases an animal that was a bit dodgy and the vet had seen, will just be found dead next morning. Not only that, but even if the farmer knows the time, there is no reason why he will see the chap from the knackers. The knacker will know where any carcass will be waiting, and will just collect it.
So the form is usually filled in by somebody who has absolutely no information as to what happened. So animals normally die the day before they were collected and apparently, 5:45pm is a common time to die. I’d love to see a statistical analysis of the figures.

You can see the seriousness with which the lads driving the wagons accord these figures, I’ve been dealing with knackers for I forget how many years. I only just discovered that recording time of death was actually a thing! None of them have ever thought to ask me. Their attitude seems to be ‘somebody asked a damn silly question, so just give them an answer to shut them up.’

But on the positive side, I have finally done a job that I hold qualifications for. I was helping to move some cattle. The easy way to do this was to walk the cattle to a loading pen which is on the side of the main road. Any cattle wagon can back into the pen access and we can load them. However since they built the pen, wagons have got bigger. The wagon can still fit in, they’ve grown longer, not wider. Some of them are a bit longer than others. So they stick out onto the main road a touch. It doesn’t quite block a lane but it would mean that the people travelling in one direction would have to go into the opposite lane.

So my job was standing across the road from the wagon where everybody could see me, waving traffic past and occasionally stopping traffic coming one way to let the others through.  

It has to be said that the motorists were great. There was only one muppet who seemed to think that I’d just escaped from an aerobics class. Indeed the biggest issue was, counter-intuitively, the motorists who slowed down to be careful. When you’re directing traffic you factor in the speed of the two converging streams to try and work out whether south bound will be through before north bound get to you. So when people slow down, you have to hastily recalculate.

But somebody asked me afterwards about what I’d been doing. So I pointed out that, actually, the police had trained me, they’d shown me how to do it.
The person seemed quite impressed until I added that it was back in 1968 when I did my Cycling Proficiency.


It struck me that you might want something a little different to read.

As a reviewer commented, “I know, without any doubt, I’ll thoroughly enjoy any book written by this author – especially if it features Tallis Steelyard and Maljie collaborating to right any wrongs.
The blurb gives some hints but if that’s not enough to tempt, add three capering Prophets, a ‘demonic’ attack, a hair raising egress from a rapidly descending balloon, creative bureaucratic archiving practices and … more … MUCH more.”

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22 thoughts on “Funny Old World

  1. Doug Jacquier June 21, 2021 at 6:00 am Reply

    Can’t keep a well-trained man down. 😉

    • jwebster2 June 21, 2021 at 6:34 am Reply

      Living proof of the value of continuing personal development 🙂

  2. Jane Sturgeon June 21, 2021 at 6:53 am Reply

    I love your witty observations, Jim. They brighten my day. I was told to self-isolate and I guess given my age, I have learned to smile, say nothing and use my own common sense. I am doing what your tractor driving friend is, minus the tractor and slurry. Wishing you a great week. 🙂

    • jwebster2 June 21, 2021 at 7:03 am Reply

      Have fun whilst you’re doing it 🙂

  3. Cathy Cade June 21, 2021 at 7:18 am Reply

    I actually know someone who FAILED his cycling proficiency test. My youngest son failed it three times – until then I didn’t realise this was possible. Heaven knows how he (eventually) passed his driving test…

    • jwebster2 June 21, 2021 at 7:29 am Reply

      I don’t think I realised it was possible either.

      • Cathy Cade June 21, 2021 at 7:38 am

        My husband (a retired class 1 police driver) goes into shock on the (thankfully rare) occasions when my son’s driving us. He never reacts or comments, but I can feel his tension from the passenger seat behind.

      • jwebster2 June 21, 2021 at 8:53 am

        The comment was made that when my father had to be a passenger, there were dents in the floor when he’d pushed down on pedals that weren’t there 🙂

  4. Books & Bonsai June 21, 2021 at 8:00 am Reply

    Never a dull moment in your neck of the woods, Jim?

  5. V.M.Sang June 21, 2021 at 9:11 am Reply

    Sounds as though you’ve got things sorted in a sensible way, where you are, Jim. The idiots are increasing in numbers like Covid-19 patients. It’s up to us sane folk to keep things going in a sensible way.

    • jwebster2 June 21, 2021 at 9:12 am Reply

      It’s a bit of a beggar when I’m having to be the token grown-up 🙂

  6. V.M.Sang June 21, 2021 at 11:21 am Reply

    Yes. Being a grown-up isn’t as much fun as children think.

    • jwebster2 June 21, 2021 at 12:47 pm Reply

      Yes it’s not an unalloyed joy 🙂

      • V.M.Sang June 21, 2021 at 4:53 pm


  7. OIKOS™-Editorial June 21, 2021 at 3:34 pm Reply

    Agreed, Jim! Have a beautiful week! I’m pretty sure that in a few months we’ll be back to what we were last year. The lockdown becomes our life. xx Michael

    • jwebster2 June 21, 2021 at 4:54 pm Reply

      Sadly I think you’re right. We’ve got a very high proportion of people who don’t want it to end. There’s talk of some people who’ve spent 15 months in lockdown, they’ve got a nice house, they’ve finally got the garden looking how they want it, and frankly a lot of them may be looking at early retirement

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt June 22, 2021 at 5:15 am

        If they have enough money for early retirement, more power to them – and they free up jobs for other people.

        I didn’t get the choice, due to illness, but the husband quit the month his birthday hit the right year, at the end of the month. Surprised me – I always though he’d feel some responsibility to the students he taught, and would at least finish out the school year. But he retired the minute he could with the best benefits, and I think it was because the people at the top were shoveling more and more sh*t on top of him, and after all those years, seeing the non-producers get the much bigger salaries for doing nothing but making life difficult for those under them, he was plain fed up with the system.

        His students loved him, and he did many great things for the school – and then he just quit.

      • jwebster2 June 22, 2021 at 5:52 am

        I know a couple of teachers like that, one was a musician who was sick of music classes being used by the school as a dumping ground

  8. Dan Holdsworth July 28, 2021 at 9:24 pm Reply

    On the score of useless statistics, the place I work (a university or a home for the terminally demented, one or the other) has recently decided to get rid of its old timesheet system, and bring in a new one. The original idea was to record what people were doing in the incredibly naive view that if they weren’t doing much, they’d say so.

    This rapidly turned into a byzantine mess of different codes for incredibly finely shaded differences in various tasks, which then turned into people having a quiet word with their management and working out which code meant “doing my job”, which meant “keeping a chair warm in a meeting” and so on; these were different throughout the entire organisation and resulted in such a mass of utter confusion that nobody could make head nor tail of it.

    So, out with the old, in with the new.

    • jwebster2 July 29, 2021 at 4:32 am Reply

      I suppose there’s a rather charming naivety about assuming people would put on the form that actually they didn’t have a proper job and were just cruising.
      A firm near here switched form allocating time in one hour increments to something like ten minute increments. The idea was so that the company could then bill time out to customers more accurately.
      Except that filling the form in took more than 10 minutes and employees started ‘billing their time to HR’ for filling in the form and as HR didn’t have a budget, first they called people into the HR office to tell them to stop doing it, but that only meant more people did 🙂

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