At last I have discovered what social rank I am. Not that I ever wondered very hard about that, but still. I am a yeoman. We recently bought seven acres of rough land right next to our house. It hadn’t been looked after for 25 years or more, and it was full of chest-high thistles and nettles and hogweed, and the ground was ankle-twistingly covered in hummocks and tussocks and anthills and molehills and rabbit holes.
Naturally, I had to have a tractor, and very fine I feel sitting on it, bumping and lurching over the ground as I slice off the weeds with a topper, which is what an agricultural mower is called, apparently, because it takes the top off.
When I read this beginning of a recent piece by Philip Pullman I smiled as he’d written to me a few months back about this new venture and with particular glee about that tractor — he sounded like a young boy in his enthusiasm and made me desperate to give it a try! The rest of the piece is delightful too as he touches upon a number of highly varied subjects, everything from traditional markets to swallows to something Einstein said to his recent conversation with Neil Gaiman.