To My Friends and Followers Down-Under

For some strange reason my last blog post seemed to appeal to readers and followers in Australia and New Zealand! And I didn’t mention ice cold beer (although to be quite honest, the beer we drank on Saturday evening was straight out of the fridge). Then the wine that followed was Australian. On a slightly more serious note, I wonder whether the fact that people in Australia and New Zealand are still interested in sheep and rural affairs reflects those two nations’ better, saner, relationship between town and country. In England (I almost said in Britain, but this doesn’t apply with such force in Ireland, Scotland or north Wales) people – and especially younger people – who live in cities have lost all touch with their rural roots: some would barely know what a sheep looks like, let alone that it produces wool – or indeed milk and cheese. I think this poses big problems for the future, especially when it comes to social cohesion and adjustment to the new economic world order.

I also detect an increasing disregard  – almost a contempt for – people in England who possess practical skills. People like Stephen, our shearer, is a very skilled man indeed and should be cherished by the nation as a whole, yet he has to struggle along on comparatively low wages – certainly when compared to what somebody with IT skills can command. I didn’t put that very well, but I’m growing increasingly concerned that as a society we in England are losing sight of certain core values, and the ability actually to do, to make, or produce something real and tangible is surely of fundamental importance. I positively spit blood when I read that banks and finance houses produce so-called ‘products’ when they’re nothing of the sort:  various saving schemes that purport to pay huge interest, but invariably rip you off – my laughable private pension is a case in point. I wish I’d invested that money into something practical, like a new shearing trailer for Stephen. At least is would have done something useful, rather than feed the flab around the belly of a so-called independent financial advisor…

So to my friends Down Under: keep up the good work. Keep in touch with your rural roots and keep making things, like your delicious wines or the superb R.M. Williams boots and moleskin jeans I wear every day of my life – and that includes at shearing.  And I hope you continue to follow this blog. Don’t forget: I’ll be thinking of you.

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