As everyone knows, St Rita is the Patron Saint of Lost Causes. Naturally, this immediately makes her by far the best qualified Saint to be Patron of this blog. After all, no cause has ever been loster. A few weeks ago, therefore, I officially adopted her as our ‘mascot’ and St Rita is now, I imagine, the very first truckshunting saint in the history of hagiography.

I’ve also adopted her because, knowing a Lost Cause when I see one, I have made it my business to take under my voluminous wings - and fight the good fight on behalf of - some of the less well-publicised campaigns of recent history. I have to admit that my efforts so far have been a complete and utter waste of time. Not one of the causes for which I become so heated and animated has even made it to the local paper, let alone to Questions In The House. The need for St Rita is glaringly obvious.

Well, I’m about to give her her first assignment. Tonight I will be kneeling by my bed as usual, hands clasped together. But that’s another story...

Afterwards, I will say a prayer to St Rita about...

...Changing Some Sports Rules.

A listener to the Blue Bus programme once called in to ask why the points awarded in the football leagues - Premiership and Championship and so on - were so complicated. Why, he asked, aren’t points awarded simply according to the goals scored by each team. Thus, in a match ending Sunderland 4 - Newcastle 2, Sunderland would get 4 points and Newcastle 2. Because the call was about football, it was instantly ignored. But I thought about it during a subsequent idle moment and even mentioned it on-air a week or so later.

No-one has come up with a sustainably good reason why our listener's idea should not be adopted. After all, a point for every goal would encourage more goals, which ought to be what everyone wants from the game. So why isn’t the system adopted?

So there’s some cudgels for St Rita to take up.

(What are cudgels? Do they ever come in ones? And why do we invite people to ‘take them up’?)

Here’s another. Why are tennis players allowed to serve wrong? I can’t think of any other sport (not that my knowledge is by any means exhaustive) where players are permitted a foul shot with no penalty. So why lawn tennis? If the rules were changed so that players had to get their first serves in, the pace of the game would pick up and there would be far fewer one-shot rallies. Am I making myself clear?

Go for it, St Rita.

And thirdly....

In all innocence, I once asked an enthusiastic golf-playing BBC reporter why men and women didn’t compete together in that tedious and graceless 'game'. He looked at me as if I had just uttered the most depraved and appalling innuendoes about his mother. Realising I may just have touched a raw nerve - perhaps his mother had once asked him the same question - I asked him again.

Why don’t men and women play competitive golf together?

The answer, of course, is because the men are afraid of losing to the women. Personally, I cannot understand why anyone would ever wish to play golf. There are, after all, far better ways of spending time - like watching a fridge defrost, having your toenails torn out or dying. However, for those benighted women who do wish to do so - and against men - the way is barred and looks as if it always will be. The kind of humourless, lugubrious and vapid men who play golf are the least likely men of all to admit to being inveterate cowards when it comes to competing against - or even with - the 'ladies'.

St Rita has a truly sisyphean struggle with that one.

To be honest, I don’t give St Rita much of a chance with any of these changes - specially on the golf course. But you never know. Stranger things have happened. Well, almost.

Vivienne - who took the AGM picture above - has also sent me the text of this lovely letter, apparently written by a Hampshire farmer to the Secretary of State in 2007. Enjoy.

Dear Secretary of State,
My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the 'not rearing pigs' business.
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.
I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?
As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?
My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968.
That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.
If I get £ 3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?
I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year.
As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department.
Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?
Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?
I am also considering the 'not milking cows' business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?
In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.
I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.
Yours faithfully...

..will take place from 1100 onwards on Wednesday 22 April at Birkheads Nursery and Secret Garden (which is near Sunniside, Beamish and the Tanfield Railway).

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com


Vivienne said...

Hi Folks!

Who needs the Nightshift when we've got 'Truckshunters'? I love this posting. It's up to your usual high standard, Ian. Thanks too for posting my email about not keeping pigs.

Vivienne said...

Bye the way, did you know I'm a Rita too? My middle name is Marguerite. My Aunt was called Helena Marguerite, k/a Rita.

Sid said...

I suppose it's debatable as to whether Darts is a game or a sport.
Putting that to one side, I can't think of any other game/sport where you start with a given number and the first one to get to nothing wins the game.

Viviennes letter reminds me of " you can't get wrong for something you haven't done". We all know that's not true.

Maureen said...

Funny thing, the first items that I spotted in the little shop opposite Leeds Cathedral were medals devoted to St Rita. I hadn't heard of her until Ian mentioned her on the blog.