Farmer Focus: Neil Thomson’s long-serving tractorman retires

We have finished drilling wheat and our tractorman, Jock Todd, has now retired.

He has spent almost 65 years working on one of our farms. He knows Blakelaw like the back of his hand and has seen good and bad times.

He will find it hard not having to get up in the morning. But he is unlikely to resist taking a wee amble down the yard – and Keith, my brother, is equally unlikely to refuse the offer of a helping hand.

Jock misses the days when there were lots of men and banter on the farm and loves telling stories that often begin: “I mind the time when me, Jock Purdie and Herbert Treeble were etc.” You can be sure of a laugh, and forget about being in a hurry.

One day I heard little grunts coming from Jock crouched behind a tractor, so I asked what was wrong.

“I cannae get the whad d’ya ca’ it oot the what’s its name,” he replied using his normal terms for something or someone when his brain is convulsed trying to remember the correct noun.

I looked down to see a nut that wouldn’t slacken. So trying to help I grabbed the spanner and, expecting huge resistance, pulled hard. It gave easily, sending me backwards to bump my head on the tractor.

As I hurled the spanner in anger, first at the pain then at his apparent ineptitude for doing the job, I spied him doubled in laughter, but also apologising.

“Boss, boss, I’m sorry, boss. Dinnae hit me.” Of course, I didn’t and we both laugh now.

You are unlikely to come across a nicer, kinder, more decent, helpful character. I have enjoyed working with him. We will miss him and I wish him a long and happy retirement.

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