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November 2000 - Farmer Trouble

When I first met him, I thought he was a very nice farmer. How was I to know that it was all the fault of his flaming sign board and I was going to get chased off his land and threatened with a pitch fork up a rather sensitive part of my anatomy?

At the risk of being accused of being on one of my hobby horses, I think these Europeans should do something about it.

I mean, they make us label all our food in kilograms instead of pounds, and they interfere with just about everything else, so why can't they spend just a few minutes on the subject of truth in advertising.

Our own Advertising Standards Authority seems to have been turning a blind eye to it for years, so I reckon the only answer is to get the Europeans onto it.

Yes folks, for those who've read or listened elsewhere, I've decided to return to one of my favourite subjects for this first edition of Comment on the wonderful World Wide Web. Well, I need to get my viewing figures up in this new medium, so knowing how you all love it when I go Euro knocking, I thought I'd have a go here.

I have to keep in with the bosses you see, in order to justify all this disc space I take up.

Actually, you could do me a favour this first time round if you have the time and would be so kind. How about reading this piece of old nonsense twice? That way the people with the megabytes of log files would glow warmly and offer me huge amounts of remuneration because they think I'm the best thing since sliced bread. No, on second thoughts, it's not such a good idea.

Perhaps the best thing is to stop all this digressing and get on with the plot. "I wish he damn well would" I hear you cry, so I suppose I'd better.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, sign boards which promise things which aren't actually available are the subject for in-depth analysis in this month's exciting edition of Comment.

As we drove along the country lane, the sign looked quite inviting. I like the idea of something for nothing and you don't get many people giving things away nowadays, so we decided to stop at the farm and take advantage of the offer.

We found a patch of ground which wasn't too muddy and parked the car. Off we wandered into the farm to find the person in charge.

Now, finding someone to talk to on a farm in the middle of the afternoon while they're milking is probably not the best of ideas in the first place, but we wandered around hopefully for a while, still excited by the prospect of something for nothing.

If the Euro-censors had made them correct the sign, we wouldn't have wasted our time at all.

Signs outside farms, or anywhere else for that matter, should tell the truth in my opinion, not tell blatant lies which waste everybody's time and try their patience.

We eventually stuck our heads round a corner and came face to face with the farmer. It was at about this point that a pleasant afternoon started to turn just a little bit sour.

It was very similar to the sour feeling I get when I put a video in the machine having read the label which said "approximate running time 106 minutes".

What they don't tell you is that the 106 minutes are preceded by about 10 more minutes of bloomin' trailers for other rubbish which you've either seen, or never want to in a million years.

Why, oh why, can't they put the damn trailers on the end, after the film's finished?

If I'm going to sit down to watch The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, it's because I WANT to watch it, not because I want to know about six other films which are also on the Buena Vista label. So why don't they warn you on the video cover? They ought to be MADE to!

If I've allocated 106 precious minutes of my life to watching a particular film, that's what I want to do. If I'm going to have to waste a further 10 on trailers it should warn me before I start so I can plan accordingly.

I could well decide that 116 minutes simply aren't available in my tight schedule and not watch the film in the first place.

In any case, why are the trailers always for films which are nothing like the subject material of the one that's supposed to be on the tape? Don't they realise that if you like a particular type of film, then that's what you like, so there's no point in trailing a western on the front of a thriller?

It's a bit like talking about videos in a piece about farmers!

Which reminds me, I've digressed again! Still it was fun wasn't it? It keeps the interest going for a bit longer doesn't it?

Looking at the last few paragraphs, I have this sudden feeling that I may have just disproved my own argument about the trailers. Still, you win some and you loose some in this life don't you? Now where was I before I interrupted myself?

Right, we'd actually come face to face with the farmer hadn't we? As I said, he was a cheery sort of chap at first and I thought we'd get on famously.

He did look a wee bit puzzled though when I told him we'd come about the range eggs. "Oh eggs" he said and proceeded to lead us round to the farmhouse where he said he kept them.

He looked even happier when I said we'd take nine dozen. "Big omelette tonight then" he said cheerily as he went off in search of enough packing material for what appeared to be his biggest order for months.

He came back some minutes later with eighteen egg boxes and large amounts of string. He carefully transferred all the eggs into the boxes and tied up the bundle for transit.

It was round about now that things started to get nasty. "I'll have to get the wife's calculator to sort out the price" he said. "But these ARE the range eggs advertised on the sign out by the road aren't they?" I enquired.

"Range eggs, what do you mean range eggs" he retorted. "The free range eggs on the sign" I replied. "Yes, free range eggs" he confirmed.

In view of his confirmation, I then picked up my eggs and started to leave. It was at this point that he started to get annoyed.

"Hang on a minute me lad" he said, "You can't go off without paying". "Why should I pay for free eggs?" I asked. "They'm not free me lad, they do cost money". "But it says they're free on the sign outside" I reminded him.

It's probably best not to report the next few exchanges for fear of upsetting those of you of sensitive sensibilities, but suffice it to say that we left the farm quite speedily and without our free eggs.

The speed of our departure was controlled to some degree by the aforementioned pitch fork which started off behind the kitchen door but followed us out.

The farmer who'd started off cheery and red faced, got even more red faced as he wielded the fork in the general direction of our buttocks as we fled. Can't for the life of me think why he got so upset.

Let's face it, if you put up a sign saying something's free, you should be prepared to give it away and not get all tetchy when someone takes you up on your offer.

If he really doesn't want to give away his precious range eggs, then he should be made to take the sign down and stop confusing poor innocents who pass by and read it.

This is where those commissioners from Brussels should be made to come over here and take him to task, rather than just sitting in their ivory towers and ignoring this very important issue.

I'm sure the weight on the egg boxes was in grams, not pounds and ounces, so why should he have to take notice of one Euro-edict and get away with blatantly offering free eggs which he's not prepared to come up with.

And anyway, why do eggs still come in dozens anyway? Surely they should all be in Euro-tens by now, because we all know the French and Germans can't count up to twelve!

Well, that's about it for this first time round on the Web. For all my moaning, I doubt that anything will get done about the problem, so I might as well give up anyway. My old man always used to tell me that you never get anything for nothing; my goodness, how right he was.

One good point though; at least it was only a pitch fork and not a twelve bore he came after us with!

Assuming I don't receive any more unexpected perforations whilst being chased off farms for being a poacher, the next edition of Comment will be in December, so I'll catch you then.

In the meantime, don't forget folks, it was all a bit of a yolk really! Right, I'm off, where's me little glass bottle with sand in?

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