Country Matters (channelling Shakespeare’s implied double meaning of the phrase)

This morning while on my walk I noticed the beaters’ van from the local manor. I then heard the beaters making their way through the appropriately named Devil’s Den banging sticks and yelling. Eventually I heard the noise of gunfire starting up and realised that the local pheasants, who I’d thought were lasting longer than usual, had sadly come to an end this morning.

Many years ago, when Mollie was little enough to fit into a rucksack, our walk took us past just such a shoot. The path we were on was a legal right of way and shooters are meant to stop in order to allow us to pass. They did, but before we had fully cleared them this God awful racket started up as some birds rose into the air. Mollie was in tears and really distressed at the loud noise and the sight of birds dropping out of the sky around her.

Before foxhunts were banned there used to be a local hunt near us and one day the hunt, and a large number of hunt saboteurs, ended up in front of our house. I went out and enthusiastically joined in with the saboteurs!

More recently, when visiting my mum and dad in Dorset, the main road home was blocked by a hunt. Large numbers of horses, beaters, hangers-on in Range Rovers, all of them, I’m bloody sure, chasing a fox rather than the artificially laid scent trails that they are meant to be constrained to these days.

As a vegetarian who struggles with the idea of even eating meat for protein, killing animals purely for “fun” is utterly bewildering. On each occasion I have been of a mind to have a reasoned argument along the lines of explaining that what they were doing was barbaric, unnecessary, and incompatible with the norms of modern civilised a society.

However in the interests of expediency and brevity I decided instead to yell “wankers” at the top of my voice.

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