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Cold comfort (Jan 23)

Award-winning columnist and Shropshire-based producer Roger Evans shares his thoughts on the badger cull and tips on ‘curing’ the common cold.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the badger cull. I’m not ‘anti badger’, but I am extremely anti bovine TB. I have always thought that badgers were 20% of the problem and 20% can’t be ignored. I don’t know where the 20% came from, it’s just a guess. But my guess is as likely to be as accurate as anyone else’s.

Badgers eat the chicks and eggs of ground-nesting birds. They are aggressive animals and I also believe they kill leverets and are responsible for the apparent decline in the hedgehog population. I can’t put any sort of figure on that, but neither can anyone else.

We are in the third year of our local badger cull. I don’t pry, but I do try to keep an eye on what’s going on. I spoke to one man who was employed to participate in the cull and he told me that he had been out five times and he was yet to see a badger. This is a good thing, depending on your point of view.

Then a farmer told me he knows a marksman who had recently shot 93 badgers. This is worrying because if someone sees and shoots 93 badgers in the third year of the cull it means that there are still a lot about and they could soon repopulate the area.

Years ago I went on a trip to Ireland with the Monmouthshire and Glamorgan Grassland Societies. We were to travel on the Thursday morning, with farm visits on the Thursday afternoon and all day on the Friday. Completely by coincidence Wales were to play Ireland at rugby on the Saturday.

I had a terrible cold – if I’d been at home I would have had my arse against the Rayburn. I made the mistake of taking a ‘24-hour cold cure’ and I’ve not been right since. People who know me well say that I wasn’t right before.

I remember we arranged to meet at a pub north of the M4 where we were served breakfast and then travelled to Cardiff airport by coach. When we arrived at Dublin airport it took some time to round everyone up from various bars and by the time they had us all on the bus, we were well behind schedule. We reached the outskirts of Dublin and the coach stopped in a lay-by. The cry went up: ‘all the committee are to meet at the front of the bus’. Us lesser mortals were to sit at the back.

It didn’t take much rearranging because that’s where we were anyway. The committee put their wise heads together and after about 10 minutes they announced: ‘this afternoon’s farm visit is cancelled’. So the bus drove on and stopped at the very next pub where we stayed for at least four hours.We were much more sensible on the Friday. In the morning we saw a lot of big, good looking Charolais cattle that were fed on a diet of washed fodder beet. We visited the Keenan factory in the afternoon, which was interesting.

When we eventually got back on the bus the cry inevitably went up for the driver to stop somewhere. He was adamant that he wouldn’t because the bus had to be back for another job. But then he had to stop at a busy crossroads and, unfortunately for him, there was a pub at this crossroads. So by the time the traffic ahead had cleared, his coach was empty. We only stopped in the pub for an hour because, after all, the bus had to be back for another job.

By the Saturday morning my cold was nearly gone. I can’t remember who won the rugby, but it doesn’t matter.

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