Tag Archives: tesco

So who is key?


When I looked across at this view this morning whilst I was feeding heifers, it did strike me that I’ve not got a bad place to be ‘self-isolated’ in. Looking east across Morecambe Bay towards the hills of the Pennines.

But on one of my rare forays onto social media today somebody had posted something along the lines of, “Give all key workers a pay increase because applauding them isn’t enough.” So I merely asked in the comment section, “So are people willing to pay the food price increase so the key workers in food retail and production can get a pay rise?”
Well that killed that conversation stone dead.

And of course when I looked at the article the person had shared, the ‘key workers’ were only the public servants anyway. I wonder if we’re starting to see first and second class ‘key workers’ appearing. Those who have good unions who can grab the limelight and those who haven’t?
Who are the ‘unsung’ key workers? Well if you can read this it’s because your broadband works and the various engineers, linesmen and the like are still out there working. If you’ve still got electricity and gas, then likewise.

When you ordered your stuff from Amazon or bought something off ebay, did it arrive? Lucky the postmen and other delivery drivers are working isn’t it. Talking to our postman (we’re rural, we do all sorts of weird things that would never happen amongst the urban elite) he commented that everything is manic. They’re delivering every other day on rural rounds because they’ve got more stuff to shift than at Christmas but with fewer people to do it because they have people off sick.
Then there are all those people in warehouses, sorting your stuff out so the stuff you ordered gets to you.

Then there’s the lass in Tesco, you know, the one everybody ignores as they fiddle with their phone as she works the till. To be honest she strikes me as pretty key as well.

And then there’s us down at the scruffy and disreputable end. I did comment to somebody that for most of my day I don’t notice the whole lockdown situation. It’s spring, we’re busy. But not just us. Pick up a phone and order feed and in in the feed mills people are still going in to work. Milk Tanker drivers are still driving milk tankers. In abattoirs and packing sheds people are starting the process through which what we produce ends up on your table.
Then there are the unsung ones, the care workers going from house to house to look after the elderly and most vulnerable. Our society might not collapse without them, but it would be a far poorer place, and without them and what they do, I think we’d struggle to call ourselves a decent people.
So to be honest, I rather agree with the comment the person made. The key workers should get a pay rise. It ought to be a good one so they can afford the increase in the cost of food which will actually pay for the rise a lot of them deserve.

But when you actually look at the key workers, the ones who are keeping the show on the road and are holding things together, the ones who really matter, two things strike me.

Firstly, even allowing for doctors etc., I bet their average salary is below the national average.

Secondly, I’d put serious money on far fewer of them having degrees.


What do I know? Ask the expert, available in paperback or ebook

As a reviewer commented, “This is a delightful collection of gentle rants and witty reminiscences about life in a quiet corner of South Cumbria. Lots of sheep, cattle and collie dogs, but also wisdom, poetic insight, and humour. It was James Herriot who told us that ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet’ but Jim Webster beautifully demonstrates that it usually happened to the farmer too, but far less money changed hands.

I, for one, am hoping that this short collection of blogs finds a wide and generous audience – not least because I’m sure there’s more where this came from. And at 99p you can’t go wrong!”

Is it daylight yet?


Today was one of those days that we often seem to get in November and December. It felt like the first proper day of Winter.  I went to feed sheep and there was a thick ‘rag’ on the grass. It was covered in frost and the sun was too weak to break through and thaw it.

Because of the combination of fog and cloud the sun itself was a silvery ball you could actually look at with the naked eye, barely brighter than the moon. (A bit like the photograph I’ve borrowed but far less artistic.) From the top of the hill looking round it was interesting. The sea was clear, I could see over the bay to Morecambe and beyond, but looking inland, the fog was clinging to the low hills of Furness.

Something of a first today, I took some hay to a group of dry cows and heifers. It’s the first time we’ve felt that they might need it. Early December and they’re still happy enough eating grass. We’ve needed this mild autumn to make up for the drought in Summer.

Then we took some five month old stirks (young cattle) to sell at our local auction mart. I watched both ‘calves’ and dairy cows sold. The calves, at between two and three months old, were fetching no more than I got for calves at three weeks old back in the 1980s. Perhaps Tesco could start paying their senior managers the same that they paid them back in the 1980s and see how they cope?
It was the same with dairy cows. Prices were good, but I had family who retired back in about 1990 and he averaged about the same amount per cow as you can buy them now.

I remember somebody commenting that when his father retired back in the 1970s, he sold his herd of 60 milk cows and bought a house in the village to retire into. As a tenant farmer, his main asset was his herd of cows.

The son, with his own farm and his own herd, is contemplating retirement. In his case, with 300 cows, he’ll be able to buy a house, but not one as nice as his father could afford, certainly not in the same village.

But anyway, one thing I remembered today, there are few places colder than a December auction mart. We drove home by a different route to drop of the trailer and came over the tops to the village of Urswick. It had virtually disappeared. It sits within a bowl of shallow hills and the bowl was full of fog. We cut back to the coast, everything was clear again. There was almost a hint of sunshine.

I confess I was glad to get inside and use the need to register the movements of the five stirks on the government cattle movements database as a chance to get a coffee and get warmed through again.


There again, if you are feeling the cold, perhaps this is the way to deal with it.

As the reviewer said, “Another great Tallis Steelyard tale.I find there’s nothing better on a cold wet day, than to sit indoors, near a warm fire/radiator, with a hot coffee, some biscuits/cake and one of Jim Webster’s books.

So that’s what I’ve done today, with this particular book. I find the plots intriguing, the characters endearing (even the ‘bad/evil’ ones) and the storytelling style relaxing.

The various threads in the stories are always neatly tied up and the endings invariably satisfactory.”