8 December 2000

FARMINGBREEDS – YOUVEREALLYGOTTOCHUCKLE

SPUDS real name is Keith but hes long-since

dispensed with that, preferring instead a nickname.

Spuds toiled in this workshop since he was 16. He used

to listen to Radio 1 but, as times passed, hes graduated to Radio 2. He smells of gearbox oil, welding fumes and Swarfega. The overalls – washed once a month whether they need it or not – are partly responsible for the stench, as are his roll-your-owns.

For all his lack of social graces, Spud is brilliant at his job. He knows engines inside out and, given half an hour and a Phillips screwdriver, can convert a sugar beet drill into a buckrake.

His three favourite tools (sledgehammer, club hammer, claw hammer – in that order) are used with vigour and enthusiasm. If delicate work is needed, he employs less hammering but more swearing. In anyone elses hands its a technique that would simply produce a lot of bent metal – but Spuds skill is knowing where to hit and how hard.

Spud has a leg-pulling sense of humour. He enjoys nothing more than taking the mickey out of those less gifted than him in the mechanical arts. He sucks his teeth when anyone brings in a broken machine to mend (its usually the student) and says: "Its a good job breakages arent deducted from your wages or youd end up owing us money."

At 12.30pm each day, he delves into Britains dirtiest Tupperware for lunch. This consists of two slices of Mothers Pride filled with a mixture of substances not

normally found together (other than at a student food fight). Hes very particular though – pickled onions, Marmite, salad cream, corned beef and chocolate spread are popular choices, embellished with a gherkin or two if theres something to celebrate. Like the arrival of the new John Deere.

Spud isnt a great one for health and safety. In 1993, the boss pinned up a 30-page HSE safety guide – but a week later it was caught in a minor blaze when Spud used the oxyacetylene torch to

revive a

damp

cigarette.

Smiles all round as industry leaders have a laugh with Farming Breeds… (l-r) Robert Forster, National Beef Association chief exec;

Ben Gill, NFU president; John Thorley, National Sheep Association chief exec; and Don Curry, MLC chairman.

*Spud (left) is an abridged version of one of the 30 articles featuring in Farming Breeds, FARMERS WEEKLYs hilarious new book. It brings together the best of the popular series which took a funny and sometimes irreverent look at "characters" in the countryside. In it, youll also find Mark My Words Wright, the next-door farmer. "He paid a grand less for his tractor than you. His kids got better grades than yours at college and his yields are a tonne an acre higher. Or so he says."

Also in Farming Breeds, youll meet Martin the conservation adviser with his sandals, his obsession with newts and his beard worthy of SSSI designation. Theres Pat, the chicken-killing B&B landlady whose fried breakfasts can immobilise guests for hours and Jim the fledgling computer user whos convinced "software" means moleskin trousers.

In all, 30 characters are put under the microscope in this tongue-in-cheek guide to the people we all love and loathe. Read it and see if you recognise anyone – in it, also, are a land agent, an agric student, an auctioneer, a pony-mad girl and a rambler.

Farming Breeds makes an ideal Christmas present or addition to your own bookshelf. This 64-page book, in which each character is illustrated by Jake Tebbit, is yours for £4.99.

To obtain a copy, send a cheque or postal order for £5.60 (including P&P) payable to "FARMERS WEEKLY" at Farming Breeds, Farmers Weekly, Quadrant House, Sutton, Surrey. SM2 5AS. Books will be dispatched first class on receipt of your order.