THIS is my second attempt at this months column. My first offering was written in about 15 minutes flat and when I read over it I thought it could easily be cited as a reason for hundreds of farmers committing suicide. What a catalogue of moans.
Between the weather, Jennys A levels, the weather, Amys GCSEs, the weather, computer viruses, the weather, TB, the weather, the world cup but most of all the weather, I didnt realise I was so fed up. Well it was probably very therapeutic to get it all down on paper, but I really couldnt have inflicted it all on you, well not all in the one go. "Venting your spleen" has always been recognised as good for your mental health – I remember during the bad publicity over E-coli a friend suggested I write a letter to Professor Pennington to explain what his comments had done to my livelihood. I sat down and raged about the unfairness of it all and blamed all my troubles personally on him, then read it all back to myself and thought "catch yourself on girl" and tore it up. I felt a lot better afterwards.
Johnston was asked by a neighbouring farmer yesterday: "Is the weather getting to you yet?" and going by my original article it certainly was getting to me, but I am now feeling much less depressed and I recommend all farmers who are ploughing through wind and rain – get it all off your chest – if only to a blank computer screen.
We are having a lot of house visitors at the minute. Just gone are two American girls who were over as part of a course on "conflict". Northern Ireland has generated a lot of interest for people who study why people fight and what can be done to resolve it. We are cited as a near success story and this particular University has been sending students over since the ceasefire and weve usually put a couple up every year. Our house is a popular choice because we are in the country with nice views of the city and a chance to get some fresh air, but only a walk from the main bus route.
It is always interesting to see how their original opinion of Northern Ireland develops over the three short weeks they are here. What they learn is that they know nothing about conflict and no matter how academically gifted you are you will not understand what makes people want to fight with each other. These girls had a particular baptism in fire as we have had a lot of "interface rioting" recently (which in itself is interesting as they dont normally like to cause trouble on wet evenings – the fire and TV seem a much better option). To get into Belfast centre the students have to get through a lot of these areas and so they got a close hand view of the destruction of rioting. They also got to speak to some of the teenagers who are regularly out on the streets and began to understand that our problems in Northern Ireland are not really any different from inner cities anywhere. It all makes for interesting project work when they go home – I hope they both get As.
Next we have our Australian niece coming to stay. She is a graduate nurse working herself round the world. I have no idea how long she will be here, but the bed is needed at the beginning of July for an American girl who Jenny stayed with three years ago. She will be leaving just in time for Amys American friend to come in August and her departure dates just leave us a few days before the dreaded results arrive and so the summer has gone. Do you think the rain will have stopped by then? Keep smiling anyway.