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May 2007 - Call Me Mellow Yellow

So what, exactly, is the matter with wheat, barley, oats and all the other traditional crops then?  Or even some of the less mainstream things like sugar beet or mangel-wurzels?

I can remember the good old days when Dan Archer used to grow sugar beet at Brookfield and talk about it every night at quarter to seven on the Light Programme.  If it was a good enough crop for him to grow, then why isn't it good enough for the farmers round this neck of the woods any more?

Hello there, gentle viewers, and welcome to the May edition of the complete load of old cobblers that is Nick Harvey's Comment.  I trust that now you've finished gaily cavorting around the old pole on the village green, you're ready for some wonderful words of rural wisdom for this month from yours truly.

I've been struck, you see, over the last couple of weeks, by the sudden change in the colour of the countryside.

No, no, no, madam.  I don't mean any sudden changes of political allegiance by members of the farming community in preparation for all these elections that we seem to be having in two or three days time.

I'm referring, quite simply to the shade of the scenery, the tint of the terrain, the hue of the highways and byways.

Although, while I'm passing by the subject of elections, and simply as a bijou digression for a few seconds only, have you noticed how all the brightest and best bluebell woods are always owned by the people with pots of money?  Tories, in other words.

Well, you wouldn't expect anyone from the Labour party to be able to afford a bluebell wood, would you?  They must all be penniless after, allegedly, spending all their money on the peerage.

Three guesses, by the way, just as a digression within the digression, as to which particular word was missing from that previous paragraph before the legal advisor got to read the proof copy.

Actually, the elections are beginning to get me down.  Are they you?  All these bloomin' canvassers banging on the door while I'm in the middle of bashing away at my keyboard trying to get this portion of professional prose finished on time.

Only one party, so far, has managed to acknowledge the existence of the latest saviour of life as we know it, the postal vote.  I mean, I don't want to go mixing with all the riff-raff in one of those polling station places, now do I?  You never know what you're going to catch from the germs that get left behind by the previous occupants of those funny little cubicles.

No, with the exception of a Mr N, from that party where they have to wake their leader up at ten past twelve each Wednesday, to ask Mr Bliar the same question every week, they all seem totally incapable of grasping the fact that whatever they say to me is totally pointless because I voted ages ago, on the day all the postal stuff arrived.

I now find it mildly amusing to let them twitter on, on the doorstep, about how they're all in favour of closed circuit television for the town centre, or much wider bicycle lanes, or cutting down all the trees in the market place, or approving planning permission to turn the old assize courts into a lap dancing club.

Yes, madam, the famous, or rather the infamous, Devizes Assizes, that place with doors, or something, of differing sizes; currently almost derelict after so many years of being left empty, could, at last, be on the brink of reconstruction and re-use.

I let the canvasser go on at great length, waste an awful lot of time that they could have spent on the doorstep of somebody who might, possibly, have turned into a convert, then I tell them I've already voted, ages ago.

Mr N, however, just popped a nice little note through my letterbox, saying his party knew that I was a postal voter and they wished me well with my malaise.  Now, if the party with the geriatric leader can be clever enough to realise I'm a "postal", then why on earth can't the rest of them?

Oh yes, and while I'm here, still digressing furiously, I want a rebate on my council tax for the savings the local council will make on thick black pencils!  Hadn't you noticed the crafty savings on the pencils, madam?  Oh yes, across the three countries voting on Thursday, they'll be hugely significant.

The only reason they encouraged so many people to have a postal vote was so all us poor suckers would have to use our own pens to fill in the ballot papers and forms, rather than the pencils they always provide free at polling stations.  You know, the ones that are always tied to the insides of the cubicles with bits of tatty old string.

And why, I'm forced to enquire, would my vote be perfectly valid if made with one of their pencils at a polling station, but when it's postal it has to be done using black ink from a pen?  I think we should be told!

Right, I think that's about enough of the digression for this month, don't you?  If you weren't all fed up with the election before I started, I'll bet you really are now.  So, what were we going to discuss in great depth in this month's exciting edition of Comment?  Oh yes, it was the colour of the countryside, wasn't it.

It's quite interesting, just as a further brief aside, that nowhere in this country do we have fields and fields of red for Labour.  We seem to leave that to the Afghans and their poppy fields.  I'm sure there's something a cynic like me ought to be reading into that particular fact, but I won't bore you with it on this occasion.

I've already mentioned all the bluebell woods for the Tories and, of course, the majority of the countryside is currently turning to look as if it supports the Green Party.

No, it's the huge swathes of the country turning to the other lot which have caught my eye of late.  Surely the Liberal Democrats haven't been out bribing all the farmers to plant oil seed rape especially for publicity in the elections?

Wherever I walk or drive at the moment, the whole place seems to have turned bright yellow.  Where's the demand suddenly come from for so much rape seed oil?  Don't we need wheat any more?  Surely somebody would like some sugar beet?  Dan Archer must be turning in his grave.

I think it's made worse this year as well, by the fact that the mild spring seems to have brought all the rape out somewhat earlier than in previous years and it's all come out at exactly the same moment.

Whilst we're on the subject of rape in the fields, the smell of this particular crop is, apparently, an interesting phenomenon as well.  Can you smell oil seed rape?  What do you think it smells like?

Strangely, it's a smell that I simply don't smell at all.  I don't notice it in the slightest and, certainly, don't find it in any way unpleasant.  'Er indoors, however, finds it an extremely strong and unpleasant smell.  She likens it to, to put it as nicely as possible for those lady viewers of sensitive sensibilities, the odour of urine.

We drive between a couple of fields of the stuff when we're out and she's immediately closing all the car windows to keep the smell out, whilst I haven't even noticed anything except the bright yellow glow all around me.  Very odd indeed!

I always thought my sense of smell was fairly normal, but this is just one particular pong that passes me by.

And, talking of passing things by, I suppose it's about time I passed this place by and left you to wander the rest of the wonderful world wide web unhindered until another month has gone by.

In any case, I'm pretty sure that could be another canvasser who's just knocked on the front door.  It must be the turn of the chappie with the purple pound.  I quite like him, you know, as regular devotees might just have already guessed.

The oil seed rape didn't exactly take up very much time in this edition, in the end, did it?  I have a horrible feeling that the digression actually took up more space than, what started life as, the main subject.  Oh well, that's nothing unusual for that Nick Harvey bloke, as I'm certain you're all muttering to yourselves.

I'll be back with more on the first of June, so please make sure you're here promptly for that next instalment.  Time to go for this month then.  Right, I'm off, where's me mangel-wurzel?

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