A Pigging Dilemma

A light-hearted view on the nonsense of agricultural grants and Government bureaucracy!

Dear Secretary of State

My friend, who is currently farming, recently received a cheque for £3000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the ‘not rearing pigs’ business.

IPiggy 2n your opinion, what is the best kind of farm on which not to rear pigs, and what is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these? As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven’t reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this? My friend is very satisfied with this business. He had been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the most he ever made on them was £1422 in 1973. That is, until this year… when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

Piggy 1If I get £3000 for not rearing fifty pigs, will I get £6000 for not rearing a hundred? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, restricting the business to about 4000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to about 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4m from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gas?  Another point: these pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don’t rear?

I am also considering the ‘not milking cows’ business, so please send any information you have on that too. In view of the above, you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.

I shall, of course, be voting for your party at the next general election!

Yours truly



Quad Biking and… BT!

More ramblings from the archives showing that some things don’t change over time!

The summer solstice is fast approaching and within a few days of this event, shorter daylight hours will become apparent, ironically at the height of the holiday season when most people stand to benefit. Still, that is nature and there is nothing that we can do to change it…or can we? It does bring into question the matter of extending our summer time by one hour and bringing us into line with most of mainland Europe. Not only would this provide more daylight in the evenings, but it would also contribute to energy savings and make international business trading easier. Food for thought, perhaps!

Way back in June 2004, the division of the company for whom I had previously worked was sold to a venture capitalist group. The major redundancies were made to facilitate the sale in an effort to disguise the fact that management lacked the ability to drive the business forward. It was later revealed that directors were prepared to close down the business had a buyer not been found. It therefore came as no surprise to discover that the overall situation regarding trading performance was far worse than employees had been told. Despite the newly-introduced cultural change policy of openness and honesty, this demonstrated the old culture of misleading staff and effectively telling lies to cover up management incompetence! Looking back over the years, it is a great relief not to be a part of such operational practice. Am I becoming ever more cynical in my old age, I wonder? Still, I’m a realist and accept that these behavioural patterns are a fact of life so far as some people are concerned, even though I do not condone them.

quad1Prior to the demise of my position at work, I was lucky enough to experience the excitement of Quad Bike riding, as part of a so-called team building seminar in the South Wales countryside. Now, if you’ve never had the opportunity to do this, I would strongly recommend it as a challenging and fun exercise. Having experienced the thrills and survived a relatively easy course, I subsequently tackled more difficult terrain, sometimes struggling not to be defeated by wet and muddy ground! I also had some instruction in basic archery, which was certainly as difficult as it looked, but nevertheless quite rewarding. At the time, these new challenges stimulated the mind and provided personal achievement rewards, helping to detract from the daily routine of normal work and sleep.

Regular readers of this blog (that’s right… you!) will no doubt think that most entries have an element of complaint within them. Whilst I will not try and deny this, everything written here is the truth and therefore reflects life as a whole. Having moved to South Wales in early June 2002, I had cause to contact British Telecom and experienced unbelievably abysmal customer service. Upon dialling their free number, I was confronted by a menu with at least five options. After hearing all of those, I selected what I believed to be the appropriate option, only to be challenged by a further four options. I then selected the relevant route, and yet again had two options from which to choose. Eventually, a ringing tone was heard and this went unanswered for over 10 minutes!

After speaking to an operative who was unable to resolve my problem, I was transferred to another section and guess what? Yes! I had to navigate the options again before another operative answered my call. To say the very least, this individual did not want to listen to what I had to say and the conversation became quite heated. I threatened to refer the matter to Oftel, at which point the operative told me to go ahead and hung up. After recovering from the initial shock of such ignorant behaviour, I called BT once again and referred the matter to a senior Customer Service advisor. In fairness, this person could understand my frustration and anger, but the problem about which I called remained unresolved. Has BT customer service really improved in the ensuing years? Recent experience says ‘no’ after talking at length with a call centre in India and not being able to make myself understood!