the land agent
THE land agent is called Edward Double-Barrel. Edward to his friends.
Hes a big-wig in a Home Counties office of a leading firm of agents. He "pitches up" for long lunches and courts contacts charmingly. Not that he needs to court them – local landowners wouldnt dream of taking their business elsewhere. Most of them were at school with him, after all, or knew him from Cirencester.
Edward drives a Discovery with labradors in the back. He knows where the best wheat land is, which ground is ripe for development, the precise route of the proposed "A" road. He is on the Parish Council, the school governors, an RICS committee or two.
Home is the Listed Georgian house where he was born, eldest son of the late Sir Charles Double-Barrel, a man with a lot of letters after his name. The place, he says, costs a fortune to run, has dry rot in the west wing and is a "bugger" to heat.
Edward has lots of pairs of brogues – almost as many as he has middle names. He refers, not to his family but to his lineage and uses the word "absolutely" a lot. He has two sons away at school and, when they come home, looks disapprovingly at their clothes, before shaking hands with their chums and saying: "I knew your father." At weekends, he dons his oldest brogues and cords to potter around the grounds. "Absolutely lovely," he says of the walled garden, before dispensing instructions to the gardener, Ted, who – according to Edwards wife Ginny – is a "real gem".
Over supper, Edward reminisces about his spell in London. Head office was fine, but it was a bit too much residential agency work, rather than estate management. Town was fun, he remembers, but he was jolly glad to get back to the country.
Nowadays there is nothing he loves more than remonstrating with ramblers (nothing short of hooligans, most of them) or having a days shooting. Between drives he talks politics, using names such as Heseltine and Parkinson as if hed met them. Which, of course, he has. But hes not sure about this "new man" Blair. Some of the noises he makes on taxes are jolly worrying. Its like so much of this country, he says over a glass a port – gone to pot. The rot set in the minute Thatcher left office.
Bring back National Service, thats what Edward says. That would stop the youngsters running riot. "They are afraid of hard work," he declares, sunk – cigar in mouth – in his Chesterfield, exhausted after another hectic week of long lunches and dinner parties.
Reflections by Robert Clark
It is the autumn of my life and I have farmed the land.
Sown the crops and mown the fields for hay
Harvested the grain when ripe and stored it all away
Have tended stock and helped them when required,
At birth and other times and when disturbed
To calm them down, seen to their needs,
For they can speak no words.
I started in the early days when horsepower was the thing,
Along with smelly tractors, the noisy rattling things.
The men of those days worked alone each to his special task.
Where are they now I ask?
It is a very changing world this farming as it is
All subsidies and paperwork and forms for everything.
The big machines and speed of work and specialists of men
To do the jobs that we once did until the long days end.
I am content that I did this together with my friends
So now I can sit back and think, for memories never end.