• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 09
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Things I know

This is not a field of hay or corn. This is rye, unusually, tall rye waiting to be harvested. The people wandering in it really are making nuisances of themselves; they’ll screw up the harvesting faster than an infestation of mice. No way a combine can flick up flattened stalks. This is something I know.

Rye is an unusual crop to be growing in England. Interest in artisan breads is a recent fad and mills over here rarely deal with rye on a commercial scale. Rye used to be grown for horse feed, probably still is, but the craze for every little girl to have her own little pony has passed, or rather the ponies have become even littler, plastic with pink manes and tails, with a p food consumption. These days horse rustling in the New Forest is aimed at the meat market rather than ripping off middle class parents. This is something I have learned over time.

If it had been a field of hay I could have told you about the round bails we used to have, small squat things like the bodies of ponies. I used to sit astride them and try to giddy them up but they were never inclined to move. If it d been corn, well that would be sweetcorn or maize of course, because using corn as the generic noun is something only non-farmers do, but if it had been I could tell you about my father singing ‘oh what a beautiful morning’ with the corn as high as an elephant’s eye. This is something I remember.

My father would have been cross with those people walking through the rye. Trespassing. If there’s a public footpath through a field then there’s a legal duty to walk round the edge not cavort in the middle. The land should be protected. This is something I believe.

Of all the things I write, only some are true.