Archive Article: 2000/01/07

7 January 2000

Simon – the Agric

SIMONS in the second year of an agricultural degree at a rural campus. He gets drunk in the union bar and shows people his bottom. Then he ambles back to the damp, mouse-infested cottage he shares with three friends. "The Squat", they call it.

His wardrobe is full of rugby tops and T-shirts that say "Im the bull to make you full" or "Im a top tup" on the back. He smells of silage for weeks on end in the vacations – but scrubs up well, occasionally donning a black tie for 21st parties. He usually finds an item of food festering in the pocket when he puts the jacket on.

Simon goes lambing at Easter, harvesting in the summer. He works 100-hour weeks because he needs the cash. He enjoys looking under tractor bonnets and, alongside his favourite Caprice poster, theres a picture of a monster tractor on his wall. He took the photo on his year out, travelling New Zealand and Australia with his best mate from Young Farmers.

Simons stocky and puts on weight easily. The girls think him bawdy – but quite like him. "How many acres has she got?" is what he wants to know. His girlfriend, Katie – one of only four females on the course – cant help thinking she gets the short end of the stick sometimes. Like when Simon rolls up at three in the morning and eats the contents of her fridge in one sitting. Then decides to chop some firewood – in the kitchen.

He likes a game of squash with his lecturers. It helps, knowing them on a personal level, when negotiating an extension for an assignment deadline – and Simon negotiates a lot of these. Having joined every club and society in freshers week, theres just never enough time to write that essay on animal physiology or nutrition.

That little incident with the sheep in the principals office seems, thankfully, to have been forgotten about now. If Simon buckles down in his final year, hes on course for a 2:1. He likes working with his hands, though, and couldnt bear an entirely office-bound job. Farm management, he reckons, will give him the best of both worlds. Maybe do that for a couple of years, he thinks, then go back to the family farm.

For now, however, hes got more pressing priorities – like getting drunk in the union bar and showing people his bottom. Again.

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