7 May 1999

BLIND DATE…

Young Farmers had a lorra lorra fun

at their annual conference in

Bournemouth, as Tim Relf found

out when he watched the

Blind Date competition

IT wasnt quite as well choreographed as the TV version, but there again, when Cilla does Blind Date, the questions and answers are all planned and the audience primed.

It was rather different at the Young Farmers Blind Date. This was, how shall we put it, rather more spontaneous. Rather more earthy.

FW caught up with the contestants backstage a few minutes before the start, honing their lines. And some, believe me, needed some honing. What are you looking for in a woman? "As much as possible," one guy said. The charmer.

Another confessed to having a laugh like Sid James. Which would have been all right, except she was a girl. One wanted to spend their holidays on a virgin – island. One, more candidly, said she hoped to "meet the man of her dreams". Looking around the audience, you couldnt help thinking she had come to the wrong place – young farmers in their hundreds, cheering, drinking, building pyramids out of glasses and intermittently exposing their bottoms.

Once on stage, the participants tried to impress the audience. One girl did a trick with a bottle. One of the guys got somebody on stage, rolled her round like a sheep and gave a shearing demonstration. Who said wit and charm were dead.

One chap even did a strip. A girl ran on stage and tried to pull his boxer shorts down. She failed. Not that it mattered. A few minutes later he did it anyway, revealing a leather garment procured that morning from a Bournemouth adult-only shop. It was all he had on. Apart from his socks. And his false moustache.

This was certainly Blind Date Young Farmers style, and it was, as our Cilla would say, a lorra lorra fun. "Our Cilla", incidentally, was vice-chairman of council, Mark Spencer. And "our Graham" was none other than national chief exec, Brendan Loughran. His few words of advice to the contestants before they went on stage were simple: "Dont get too drunk."

The two couples eventually picked headed off – not to Singapore, Stockholm or Seville – but for a meal by the pier in Bournemouth. The NFYFC picked up the tab, though, so they were not complaining.

"A good opportunity to widen my circle of friends," is how 22-year-old Penny, one of those picked, describes it. "I was just out to have a laugh, hoping to pick someone with a good sense of humour. We certainly had that."

But was there any romantic interest? "Well, we havent exchanged numbers or addresses, but no doubt we will meet up at other events, maybe the Young Farmers convention next year in Blackpool."

EASING HOME TENSION

AS EXAMS DRAW NEAR…

Exam time is looming and

Pip Macauley offers some

tips to make revision less

stressful for students and

parents alike

IS your household under a black cloud? Are exams looming for your offspring? Perhaps you have already been through this stressful time, but if this is the first time your children have had to contend with major exams you might need exam relief. This is not guaranteed to lift the gloom, but at least it might make you feel better!

&#42 Tips for parents

Find out your childrens exam timetables so you can quietly gather up equipment which might be needed the night before. There is nothing worse than the panic hunt for a missing maths protractor just before the exam.

Throw out your new resolution for healthy eating for all the family. Still give them the freshly cooked meat and vegetables, of course, but lay in stocks of their favourite foods – snacking or grazing may be the order of the day.

Try to ignore strange sleep/work patterns, unless they continue after the exams.

Make yourself available for helping them get to and from school, or find out the bus/train timetables for them. I know they could do this themselves but when their heads are full of science formulae, they wont want to break off to make phone calls. Also, they are unlikely to want to be at school when they havent got an exam.

Be about – try not to go away from home during the exams. Having you at home is a great reassurance, even if they find it hard to show you.

Try not to suggest they change their learning methods – its too late. Ignore the blasting stereo, bite back the "How on earth can you learn anything with that row going on" remark which springs to your lips. You can moan when the exams are over.

Leave the battle of the bombsite bedroom, the cereal bowls clogging up the sink, the cold, half-drunk coffee cups littering the sitting room until July. Take comfort in the many hundreds of us all going through it together. If you can, leave this article where they might see it, because there is some help for them, too.

&#42 Tips for students

Bored with revision? Try different ways of tackling it.

Try to make some sort of revision plan but dont spend too long on it – it doesnt have to be a work of art. Within the plan, give yourself sensible targets for the length of study before a break and the amount of work to be covered. Start your day with your most difficult subject to tackle when you are freshest. Build in a "checking time", for going over work covered the day/week before.

Hire videos/tapes of set texts from the library. Get your request in early, as others may be reading this. There are excellent revision guide books you can buy on most of the set texts. Look at the different styles and formats they use before buying, to find the one which appeals most to you.

Sit down and think seriously about how in the past you have learned best. What learning method did you use when you achieved your top marks? Does information sink in better if you hear it, with visual back-up? Or do you prefer to see it all written down in front of you? Do you write out lots of notes? Some tried and tested revision methods are given below but on the whole if you are taking the exams soon, stick to the one which works best for you.

&#8226 Tapes: Useful if you find it easier to remember facts you have heard more easily than when you are faced with the same facts on a printed page. Say you want to revise some French vocabulary. Record the English word first, leave the tape running while you silently go through the French spelling of the word in your head, then record the French word, followed by the spelling. When you have finished you have an instant question and answer tape. Adapt this method for different subjects. For example, record history facts in chunks. Play the tapes in your personal stereo on the bus or train. Or leave the tape running while you sleep.

&#8226 Posters: Everyone has to learn diagrams for different subjects, and one way of doing this is to make your own poster of the diagram, using the plain back of a roll of left over wallpaper, as large as you like, and put it up in your room where you see it often. Print the labels you need to learn in large print and run through them out loud when passing. Roll the paper on to make another, but you still have the other one for checking a few days later.

&#8226 Key words: For this you will need a highlighter pen, a clear plastic folder and a few paper clips for stage one. If you feel notes you took on a particular topic are not up to scratch, or you were away, you can make your own. Clip the plastic folder over the page you want to take notes from. Go through the text, highlighting only the main key words, it should not read like a full sentence. Stage two needs an index card holder, alphabetical dividers for different subjects, and some index cards – 6inx4in are a good size to get, so that when you have finished that page, you transfer and number the notes or key words onto the cards. You have your own revision notes to carry around with you, and they can help your friends too. Ideally these should be started at the beginning of your course of work, as they do take time to make, but it is still a useful stop-gap. Use the key word approach when tackling the questions in the actual exam. If your school wont allow highlighter pens, do it mentally as you read them – and please read them at least twice. It is just so easy to miss a crucial little word and read "Do diagrams" when it actually says "Do not do diagrams".

These are just a few pointers which might ease the tension a little – I hope so – and good luck.

NatWest cup to Cumbria

DRIGG YFC were winners of the 1998 NatWest Countryside Challenge Cup.

The Cumbrian group were awarded top spot after their fund-raising activities in memory of 15-year-old Claire Temple, who died from meningitis.

The main event – the Rock-a-Thon – saw members cycle coast to coast from Whitehaven to Sunderland and back, covering 280 miles in three days. The club raised more than £15,000 for the childrens ward of the West Cumberland Hospital.

Llanigon and Totnes took second and third place, respectively.

Other award winners:

Merrick Burrell Tankard: Glamorgan.

Worshipful Company of Farmers Trophy: Pembrokeshire.

Tug Wilson Cup: Herefordshire.

NFU Trophy:

Yorkshire.

RASE Cup: Ledbury.

Sidney Fawcett Cup:

Katie Hall, Derbyshire.

Lottery grant cash

is on its way to the NFYFC, so delegates heard within hours

of returning home from the convention.

A grant of £111,000 has been made to improve the communication

systems between the 38 English county federations and the national office.