Show me the way to go home..
Posted Oct 5, 2002
Show me the way to go home,
I'm tired and wanna go to bed,
I had a little drink about an hour ago,
And it went right to my head.
No matter where I roam,
O'r land or sea or foam,
You'll always hear me singin' this song,
Show me the way to go home.
All true except the drink, as of this moment.
One in 407, 791
Posted Sep 23, 2002
So why did I go on the Contryside Alliance march in London on Sunday? As is fairly well known, I am an IT consultant. As is also fairly well known, I lead an apparently exotic life shifting from Holiday Inn to Holiday In around Europe. What is rural England to me?
It's home. And I want to go home, but I can't. Two bedroom cottages are a quarter of a million on the part of the country I come from.
But that isn't the reason I was part of the march on Sunday. Market forces are market forces.
The reason I marched, put simply, is that the present governnment is the last in a long line of governements which have ignored rural issues, and their combination of ignorance, ignorage and meddling have destroyed livelihoods and lives.
I was raised on goats' milk and our own eggs and vegetables. It is now impossible to buy raw milk, the small hen-keepers have been put out of business and the gardeners cannot buy the pesticides and herbicides they have used for decades in their vegetable gardens.
With 24 other children, I walked to primary school in the village. That school has closed and is a private house.
I was raised in a rural rectory. When my father retired, it was sold and is now a private house. The church I was married in was one of two in my father's care. Now it is one of five.
The shop I bought sweets and comics in is now shut. Guess what? It has been converted into a private house.
The garage where I bought the petrol I put in the car to take my driving test has closed. There are now half a dozen houses on that site.
The Post Office where I bought stamps and my neighbours cashed their pensions has closed. It was tiny: the counter folded down across the kitchen doorway. I assume that the counter has now been removed. I don't know for sure; it is now a private house.
None of this would matter if the infrastructure and money was there to support the new distances that people have to travel. But the free bus service I took to secondary school is about to be abolished and replaced with one which people have to pay for.
The local bus services are in dissarray. They run once or twice a day and even so they are incredibly unreliable: services are often cancelled. Even when they do run, the different companies' services are not integrated, and they certainly do not integrate with the other main public transport system, the railways. So a 'simple' shopping trip can take all day, or not take place at all.
The pub I used to drink in with game-keepers, poachers, farm-workers and dairy-men is now an up-market restaurant with nowhere to stand and drink. Taxis are fifteen quid a shot to do a trip to the next village to drink there. That sort of money is not available on income support, which is what most farm workers and some farmers are having to live on, while the cottages they were born in are now sold to weekenders for quarter of a mil or more.
When I moved over a decade ago in the village I have just left, our house had a three figure phone number. But it will be years before it gets broadband. This means that the businesses which could come into rural areas to supplement and replace farming won't. It is too difficult to get staff unless they have cars, and it is impossible to get internet access. On the internet you can be anywhere, so long as it is not down the end of a farm-track that is.
And my friends whose lives and livelihoods were guided by directives on what feed to give their cattle, the very feed that gave their cattle BSE, then got their herds back to good health and good order in time to have them, healthy as they were, destroyed during foot and mouth.
I only shoot clays, I don't ride well enough to hunt, it is over two decades shince I shot rabbits (with a gun wwhich would now be illegal), but all around me I see livestock, livelihoods and lives destroyed by ingnorance and prejudice, and by people who think that weekending means that they understand rural life. I don't understand rural life, and I have led one for decades.
How typical that Tony Blair spent the weekend in the country so that he could close his eyes to the mass of people so great that it took 8 hours to march - in silence - past Downing Street yesterday.
In 1998 I was one of over a quarter of a million people who marched for freedom. This week I am proud to be one of the 407,791 peope who marched in London for Liberty and Livelihood on Sunday.
I only wish I thought it would make a difference.
a hick from the sticks called Ben
Posted Sep 16, 2002
I am back in Sweden, on a fairly short contract this time. Intense but dull, but there you go.
On the other hand I do have permanent access to the internet...
So you think you've had a tough day....?
Posted Sep 10, 2002
In theory I was going to go to Sweden today, to start a 6 week contract.
In reality my stuff is being moved out of my flat tomorrow and put into storage so that the flat can be refurbished. So the timing *was* really good. I bugger off to Sweden, and swan back in 6 weeks to a beautiful new flat. Or rather to the same flat, in beautiful new condition.
However, the client has not signed the paper-work yet. It came to 11.00 this morning, I was packed and more-or-less ready to go. I rang the guy who I will be working with at the client-site and said: 'if I don't know by 12.00 noon I am not coming today'. He thought I was being stroppy. 'I am not being stroppy. I cannot come because of the geography of the thing. I simply cannot get the ticket bought, and me to the airport unless I get the go-ahead by mid-day'.
Anyway, no call by noon (which is fine, but my sheets are drying ready to go into storage tomorrow, and my clothes are all packed for going to Sweden, but hey - I can sleep on a mattress, I have done it before).
So I say: 'Let me know by 4.30 and I will catch the 06.45am flight tomorrow morning, I'll be with you at lunch-time'. (A 4.00am start - yeouch - but I am a professional).
He then asks if I will come out anyway, and I say 'sure - at your risk'. He has, apparently, arranged this mega-important meeting, at which I will be a key-player (nice to be wanted), which is taking place tomorrow. The client, who want this all to go ahead as wondrously swiftly as possible, cannot be arsed to sign the paperwork to pay for me to be there. However my main man is not prepared to take the risk on my out of pocket expences (a flight bought the same-day I fly, hotel costs for x-nights, parking, we are not talking peanuts) and therefore neither am I.
I would not mind but (a) I am paid daily, so every day I don't work is a day I don't get paid and (b) I have nowhere to sleep tomorrow night!
Posted Aug 19, 2002
I cleaned out the flat today from one end to the other. My ex came round with his new girlfriend. And just when I was feeling really down someone offered me a contract, so I can go to Oz in November with a clean conscience and not too much permanent damage to my bank account.
But I have an unfeasable amount of stuff to do next week, now.
In the words of Joe Walsh:
'I can't complain, but sometimes I still do'