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Hitting the road with a mic


The cattle corpse was still warm, but skinless, when it whacked the back of my head. I quickly moved before the next swinging carcase emerged from the horror around the corner.

Ten minutes later the door of a chill room clunked shut and I shivered in the company of 120 rapidly cooling animals and a man in a white coat.

They’re not the opening sentences of my new novel; just a recent day in the life of a rural broadcaster.

I’ll spare you pictorial evidence of my outing to the abattoir. It wasn’t my first one, and certainly not the goriest. That was in Brazil where our cameraman got lost in the “slaughter room” and reappeared a few minutes later dripping blood from head to foot. At least it wasn’t his own.

But the last few weeks haven’t all been about meat plants. There have been gentler commissions which saw me strolling through colourful wildflower meadows, interviewing a farmer about harvesting the seeds of 200 different flowers and grasses. I learned that the random wildflowers we see on roadside verges and roundabouts aren’t there by chance after all; they’re grown commercially then packed and sown in specific variety mixes. On another day I crawled around a harvest field getting sounds of a combine, and on Monday I’m meeting the animals dubbed the “cutest sheep in the world”.

We “media people” lead such terribly glamorous lives.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Have you ever seen the old Rocky movie? He practiced boxing by using cattle carcasses in a meat plant.

    August 5, 2014
  2. You do lead a charmed life!! No, really, I mean it.

    August 3, 2014
  3. Well, I’m glad there’s a balance. All abatoir and no flowers would make a mind go a bit off.

    August 3, 2014
    • I think my mind went “a bit off” a long time ago. I’m looking forward to meeting these Valais Blacknose sheep tomorrow; I’m told that even the most hardened farmers fall in love with them!

      August 3, 2014
  4. You really could live anywhere Nancy, doing those kind of things. It would be very interesting if you were interviewed about your own life I think.

    August 2, 2014
    • Scott, I’ve spent all my working life travelling round this country (and others) in a vehicle loaded with clothes, equipment and an assortment of footwear, hence one of the reasons for the transition to camper van. So you’re right, it seems I can live anywhere – or nowhere. The van’s also useful as a mobile editing suite, but it remains to be seen if it’s suitable winter accom. I may have to rethink my lifestyle – or head back to the Southern Hemisphere. Now that’s a very appealing thought…

      August 3, 2014
  5. Quite the variety pack there.

    August 2, 2014
    • Yes, Anneli. Variety is one of the best bits of the job – alongside getting paid to ask questions!

      August 3, 2014

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