Sunday, 13 February 2011

Don’t commandeer the common deer

What on earth does the government think its doing selling off our forests? Yes, there are some examples of how privatisation of national assets has been a worked reasonably well in the past. Well, privatisation of sorts. More specifically, private companies running national assets with government funding. The NHS, car parking, the car industry, the rail network…? Actually no, there are not any examples of privatisation of national assets working well at all are there? They are all crap.
So why would the forests be any different? For instance, who would pay for all the fencing needed to keep people out of these lovely wooded areas? Because, if a private company buys a forest, it would surely want to charge folks to use it for, say, bird watching, dog walking etc. We would be expected to enter via turnstile and hand over our cash to a spotty pale faced vegan in exchange for a map of the muddy paths, with pictures helping us indentify blue tits, bluebells and edible mushrooms. Power crazed police wardens would roam the woods, competing for commission for penalties to be handed out to those who broke the rules. Wheel clamping would be in operation for not only our cars, but prams and bikes too. Fines would be handed out for dogs that barked, children that screamed and anyone who went for a tinkle behind a tree. In short, the government would expect the forests to be like their cities. Car-less and controlled by CCTV.
But what concerns me more is the animals. Will they be privatised too? Can you really buy a squirrel? Are they able to sell off our deer and wild boar? Because if you fence the people out then, by contrast, you surely fence the animals in? What if a couple of deer had gone off on an away-day while the fences were being erected and returned at midnight to find themselves separated from their families? It would be like Berlin in the 1950’s. In 30 years time, the fences would come down during some mass demonstration and the “free” deer would be queuing up to visit long forgotten relatives still living in hovels.
Or here is another theory, they could install animal turnstiles too. So the privatised animals would be allowed out at certain times as long as they were home by midnight. It would be like South Africa. Perhaps the owls would be trained as spies or wardens. The odd animals would escape and live as fugitives, being constantly followed and tracked down by the CIA and the Daily Star. In years to come, a bird verses quadruped hatred would evolve and eventually evolution would encourage four legged animals to grow wings.
You see, Mr Conservative minister, nature is something that happens outside Whitehall. Evolution may change the colour of your government, but mess with nature, you are messing with God, The Farmer and the Sunday Roast.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Queen Elizabeths biscuits - Feb publishings

Yet another interesting month in the life of a simple soul. A few quiet days after New Year, nursing my freezing ears, afforded me some time to enjoy a bit more of our Scottish surroundings. For a short while the weather picked up and some brisk walks with the dogs on the beach were a welcome change. I even took time to entertain myself by doing a jigsaw I found in the cupboard. It only took me a couple of days. I was quite pleased, it said 3-5 years on the box! 
On the good news front, the hair is now growing back after last months scalping, albeit a wee bit greyer than I was hoping for.
Then, from nowhere I get a phone call bringing bad tidings. More family issues, this time my sister in intensive care. I won’t include all the details, other than she is still fighting on, but for a while the odds were stacked well against her survival. Having lost her husband last year, life can be very unfair sometimes. Things like this certainly make you sit up and appreciate life.
When I was nineteen, my uncle died suddenly aged 60. He had worked hard all his life and amassed enough money to retire in luxury but sadly he never got chance to move into his lovely house on the south coast. A month later, I lost a close friend of my own age. At that young age, I made a few decisions. I was well aware of hard work but I also realised that work had to be fun, life had to be fun, because on that day I realised it could be taken away from you in an instant. I am no prophet or church minister with a point to prove, but from my current stand point, I thank my old uncle for inadvertently giving me that advice. People who proffer the words “life is too short” are those who have enough time to think about it. The ones who really advocate that statement are too busy cramming as much into their life as possible and enjoying every day as a result. Sure, when you are busy, life goes by faster, but if you are busy doing what you enjoy, logic says you should get more enjoyment from life. Here endeth the lesson, except to say thanks to all those who have privately and publicly prayed for Sarah and for all the good wishes received. We believe that she may now be on the road to a slow recovery.
There have been a few high points this month, England beating Wales in the 6 nations for example. The man from the French water board passing our planning application for a new septic tank at last. The remainder of our ewes lambing in France without aid. However, for the next few months I may exchange my rantings from a French farmhouse to those from a more temporary location as I endeavour to stay near my sister to help with her recovery.
But the rantings will go on, continually, for tis my job. Last week on the way for a hospital visit, we purchased a large packet of dog biscuits. A conundrum then arose. It is fairly obvious that we are unable to take our dogs in for hospital visits, but would we be allowed to take the dog biscuits in instead? If not they would be devoured by Louis (the pointless pointer) waiting eagerly in the car. As she is prone to do, Wendy came up with a sensible solution; we should put the packet under the car out of sight and collect them on our return an hour later. A wise woman, I hear you say. What she hadn’t reckoned on was that Birmingham, unlike south west France, is inhabited by thieves and charlatans. To our dismay, on our return, someone had stolen the packet of biscuits from us, a feat that would have involved crawling on their belly under the vehicle!  Louis was heartbroken, how could anyone be so cruel to deprive him of his dinner?  I was more intrigued as to who would be so desperate to stoop so low. Was it a fellow dog owner, surely not, they would have spotted our dogs in the car? Or a hungry homeless person surviving on canine food ? Or even another large dog on the scavenge? Only our dogs or the cctv cameras can tell us that. So maybe it will turn up on police 5 next week. Does Shaw Taylor still present Police 5, or I am showing my age?
It has been a while since I have travelled into south Birmingham and it was with a wry smile that I noticed Longbridge has now all but disappeared. That hub of manufacturing, once the car building centre of Europe, reduced to brown fields awaiting reconstruction. On closer inspection, I note the much of the planned new construction is for education premises and yet more universities.  That plus the infinite extension of the cities other two universities is a massive ongoing project, probably using foreign contractors. But who is going to pay for all this building I ask? Well you and me (alright not me, I live in France, but certainly you), the tax payer.
Does anyone else see the irony here? Kids in that area would have left school at 16 and worked at Longbridge, learning something useful, making something useful (well as useful as a Rover could be) and earning money. Now they leave university at 22, with degrees in ‘work-avoidance’ and remain unemployed for 3 more years, at our expense. Here’s a theory, Mr Cameron. Encourage the kids to leave school at 16 and learn a trade by going to work building universities. A simple and recursive solution. Soon you will have a land full of empty universities. Then you could charge overseas students to use them. That would pay the bills. You could even put the excess money into good use, like funding NHS and perhaps the Air Ambulance, so that I don’t have to get an annual head shave! Incidentally, their services were used recently to take Keyleigh Butcher to the Birmingham hospital from Rock in 6 minutes which is truly astounding. I hope she is recovering from her accident and I am glad my locks went to a good cause!
I would like to finish this month by congratulating the NCC unit in Birmingham QE Hospital for their outstanding service and thank them for all the help they have given my sister. I know the NHS comes under regular fire, but I can only speak as I find and they have been nothing short of brilliant. Bravo.