The field next to the pub caught fire when it was being combined. Fires are not an altogether uncommon event during harvest, but is just another challenge that farmers and, in this case, the firemen in the countryside have to put up with. Inside the pub, the fire barely got a mention. All thoughts were on the dread words ‘foot-and-mouth’. The outbreak is only a few miles north of our village. Far too close for comfort. Perhaps the worst part is the waiting, the not knowing whether the disease has been controlled. It is with a sense of dread that the village’s farmers inspect their livestock each day.

Nobody has much faith in a government that cannot organise itself to pay the farmers their Single Farm Payment, but, in truth, Mr Brown and his team have moved with speed and efficiency compared with the debacle of 2001. However, foot-and-mouth instills a level of fear unlike anything else. The Government should not become too self-congratulatory until all the facts are known. It may want to reflect that if it took the countryside more seriously all of the time, it could reduce the constant fear factor of its residents.