The front page of today’s Times (sadly hidden behind the Murdoch paywall) shows fashion designer Alice Temperley, daughter of Somerset cidermaker Julian Temperley, who is expressing her concerns about the potential effect of the government’s minimum pricing plans on farmhouse cidermakers. Inside the paper, there’s a two-page spread on the issue.
But it’s the soul of his business, here inside the cider cellar, where minimum pricing will hurt. This is where the “old boys” come to fill their flagons. Gamekeepers and gardeners buy cider straight from the barrel for £5.80 per 4-litre container. One elderly man picks up his 16 litres and pedals home on his bike. Another customer commutes weekly from London to pick up his 100-litre load. The plans will take the cost of those containers to more than £11.
If he loses these customers to the supermarkets, he argues, Britain will be poorer for it. “Being a cider farmer is like being part scrap man, part gypsy. We have a roguery. These old boys keep it real. Without them we lose our mystique. We’ll be forced into the living death of National Trust shops.This is an issue about the popular traditions of rural England that goes far beyond those who will actually be affected. Anyone who’s seen or read about Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem will understand this. I’d expect pretty much all farmhouse cidermakers to be in areas represented by Tory or LibDem MPs. Yes, I know it’s special pleading, but let’s hope they get a lot of flak about it and it helps undermine the whole policy.
Oh, and sign the petition here If someone comes up with a nice logo for it, I’ll put it in the sidebar.
Edit: See here for a report and a very appealing pic of Alice Temperley.