The hips don't lie: Farmers in for body shock
I was ringing around the other day, talking to a few people about various goings on in the farming scene at the moment. You could classify it as two hours of idle chat but usually this kind of banter yields a few stories -- not all of which are printable, of course!
Stories aside, it's the kind of donkey work that can prove very rewarding, if only because it gives you a sense of what people are talking about and, more importantly, what they're giving out about.
Nearing the end of the round of calls, however, I was beginning to get a bit worried. Everybody appeared too contented. This has the makings of a very quiet August from a news point of view, I thought to myself, and we are not even finished with July.
But the Lord has a way of throwing lifelines to struggling opinion-piece writers and they sometimes come from the most unusual of places.
The source this week was the orthopaedic hospital in Croom, Co Limerick. A fine establishment, its surgeons have been keeping the men and women of the midwest mobile for generations.
My contact was in for such an operation. When I rang him last week, he was recovering after having one of his hips replaced. Nothing special in that, you might say. But out of the five patients in his ward, four of them were farmers.
It may have been merely a coincidence, but anecdotal evidence would suggest that farmers are a very popular constituency with artificial hip manufacturers and surgeons who make a tidy living out of keeping them going.