Over the Gate - 'It is more important to win than be right'

By Jeff Swift

MY FIRST wish for the year of 2003 is one that I think you will agree with. I wish for a safe world in which children can grow up without fear. I must then move from the general to the particular, which is that people like government ministers, judges and all sorts of officials become really addicted to using common sense, not just now and again but all the time. Then I would like to see the people who negotiate in Brussels and other places on our behalf are really committed to us and to winning on our behalf for a change. I reckon a session or two with a successful cattle or sheep dealer would do them a power of good. When you are in negotiations with some of the European countries (you will known which ones), it is more important to win than to be right. I am already tired of congratulating our people for coming second.

Tony Blair says he is committed to a thriving agriculture that produces a fine countryside, but the other week he said: "We can't do this alone - we need the co-operation of farmers." Fair enough but how about some co-operation from his Secretary of State at DEFRA. You know, the one who refused to be helpful by agreeing to be photographed tasting British Beef in Paris. Incidentally, I understand she has been seen to taste Argentine beef. If that was not enough she did not visit Smithfield Show, the British Farmer's and ancillary industries shop window, she sent her junior minister. I'm not even going to mention the scientists or technicians who when trying to find BSE in sheep, were found not to be testing sheep brains at all, they were cattle brains. So you see, when the Prime Minister says he could do with some co-operation, join the club, so could we.

I am indebted to a reader from Ingleton with whom we have done businesses over the years, for sending the following with my son. I hope you enjoy it as I did.

A class in the village school was having a mental arithmetic test. The teacher said: "Now then I have three oranges in one hand and four in the other, how many is that?" No one was saying anything, so encouragingly she said "Come on surely someone can tell me. I have 3 oranges in one hand and 4 in the other, what have I got?" Little Tommy volunteered, he said "Please Miss, big 'ands!"

Dialect word: Lug meaning to pull or drag.

Thought for the day: A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.