Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A major feat

It is difficult to list groups of unpleasant people in order of detestability, classifying them from the utterly wicked to the merely sleazy. Everyone has his own idea about which are the worst: double glazing salesmen, pornographers, Tories, evangelists, bankers, homeopaths, muggers? Which of these most deserve to meet an unpleasant end?

I am not sure where I would have put rustlers; a certain romance about their crime still clings from the days when you could be hanged for it, though it's no joke for Farmer Giles, struggling to keep his farm going in difficult times, being robbed of some of his precious animals by townie gangs: a nasty surprise for him to find them gone after he has spent a long night wrestling with Defra and EU forms, but nowadays, of course, he is likely to be the CEO of a mammoth corporation with plenty of staff to do the paperwork, make the insurance claims and even look after the sheep.

I was amazed to learn that, according to the BBC and the always readable Farmers' Guardian, thieves recently stole 579 ewes and 901 lambs from a field in Lincolnshire.

Someone who knows about sheep (and rustling?) says that two articulated trucks and a number of men and dogs must have been involved, in the dark. The noise! And the people! It may have been a thinly populated area, but didn't anyone tumble to the fact that something was going on?

Then there are the crooked shepherds, slaughtermen, butchers, vets and officials who must have had a hand in the huge operation. This was a major crime, and it is to be hoped that one of the villains will grass and that the whole bunch will go inside, but one cannot help feeling some sneaking admiration for the highly competent and hardworking gang who carried it out.

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