TROUBLE AMONGST THE TURNIPS

I confess I have never read any Poldark novels and have watched none of the recent television series. (I saw part of a couple of episodes of the earlier version many years ago). I bear it no ill will but was recently given a sentence from one of the books as part of an exercise/game and could not think of anything in the same vein except this rather silly pastiche. With apologies to my O level history master and lovers of Winston Graham’s work everywhere

Trouble Amongst the Turnips:

Or

A Counterblast to Television Remakes

 

In the hot sunshine of the early summer afternoon Demelza and Prudie were thinning out the young turnips which had been sown in the lower half of the long field. Prudie dashed a particularly weedy specimen to the floor in disgust.

‘Why is he growing turnips in here again?’ She asked in a tone that matched her actions.

Demelza turned her head quickly, the dark curls flashing in the sun.

‘You shouldn’t be speaking like that of your betters Prudie.’ she said her mouth set in stern disapproval.

‘Stuff that. He’s mad. I thought he was a follower of old what’s his face from Raynham?’

Demelza was shocked by the impertinent tone and the offensive language.

‘If you mean Viscount Townshend, Mr Poldark is indeed a fervent admirer of the Norfolk four field system and our late Secretary of State. And I’ll thank you to remember your manners.

Prudie dashed another stray turnip to oblivion and sighed.

‘Sorry missus but be fair, if he’d actually bothered reading them pamphlets proper like, he’d know you have to rotate annual or you get all sorts of bother.’

Demelza gently pulled a wastrel root vegetable from the ground and laid it aside.

‘How so?’

‘Leaving aside club root, flea beetle and root maggots you mean?’

Demelza nodded sagely not having heard of any of them.

‘Well has he had any nitrogenous fixing crop in here recent like?’ Prudie fixed Demelza with a gimlet eye. ‘Well? ‘as he or ‘an’t he?’

Demelza had not the faintest idea what a nitrogenous fixing crop was but was reluctant to let her beloved Ross take any blame.

‘I’m sure that your master has attended to all the needs of…’

‘Tush my pretty one, he had turnips in here last year and he tried wheat the year before and it was turnips again afore that. And why? What beasts have we to feed ‘em to? We ‘ad boiled neeps, fried turnip, turnip fricasee, roast turnip, turnip soup, turnip broth, stuffed turnip, turnip hash, turnip gallimaufry, and turnip surprise.’ She looked around to ensure their privacy, which was a rather pointless exercise as they were in the middle of an empty field. ‘I don’t like turnip.’ she confided.

‘Ah.’ cried Demelza ‘but the noble turnip…’

‘Noble! Pah! god rot ‘em. And let me tell you another thing. They’ll be weedy little runts anyway without no dung on em. And if you haven’t had any clover in for so long where will the goodness be anyway? And why’s he growing wheat this far west? Barley I could see but when have we had barley? Never. He should ave stuck to fighting and wandering around without a shirt. It’s what he’s good at. Bloody turnips.’

‘Ah but you see Prudie Mr Poldark has read the works of other great agriculturists and whilst he rightly respects and admires Viscount Townshend he believes that Mr Tull had the right of it when he observed ‘Too much nitre corrodes a plant.’

‘Tull?’ Observed Prudie with a sneer. ‘Posh bloke from Berkshire, big hair?’

‘That was a wig Prudie, it was the fashion.’

‘Aye I knows him. Jethro. Stood on one leg all the time?’

‘I believe at one time he did have a certain preference for a monopedal stance, but that has little relevance to his agricultural credentials.’

‘That’s as maybe but its hard to develop real hands on experience hopping behind a plough playing a flute that’s all I’m saying. Should have stuck to his flute. Folks would have paid good money for a big haired bloke playing the flute on one leg. And he could have let country folk get on with a proper crop rotation system.’

Demelza decided that perhaps, despite Ross’s nascent one nation Toryism mixed with quasi socialist overtones, she would let the hired help get on with the work themselves. She rose to her feet, playfully boxed Prudie’s ears, told her to keep her radical ideas to herself and marched off for a quick gin, wishing that someone would hurry up and invent tonic water and a refrigerator, whatever that was.

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