KEEP your heads down and watch your backsides. It was the Glorious 12th yesterday and there are dangerous people walking the moors, most of them armed to the teeth and looking for blood. At this time of year it’s very important not to make clucking noises – even in fun. And steer clear of wearing Unite, RMT or Che Guevara T-shirts. Willie Whitelaw was the thin end of a very unpleasant wedge, and some of these people have grown cocky of late and are bursting for a fight. If the grouse don’t fall in sufficient numbers they’ll be rounding up airport baggage handlers, local government officers, bolshie single mothers and anyone on incapacity benefit, and making them run across an upland pasture towards a row of shooting butts.
Do not, for one minute, think this is an exaggeration. Those suppressed Norman genes have resurfaced. These crumbs from the upper crust are dismantling the bricks of our society and riding roughshod over our sensibilities. The old and the infirm are to be driven from their council houses. Ius primae noctis is to be reintroduced for coalition politicians and Tory council leaders. It’s true.
So. Grouse and the shooting of them. Soft-palmed people with gun oil on their cuffs. Lead zinging through upland wind. None of this is compatible with a pleasant ramble through the heather. That’s why when someone writes about grouse shooting in its defence, it’s always interesting to have a shufty. And the latest well-fed baron to lift his head, shoulders and ample rear above the parapet is Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex. That’s right. Nicholas Soames – the lawbreaker who received a two-month road ban for driving his quad bike with no insurance. In the 19th Century, a member of the working classes would have been transported for less. This is what he says in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:
Say it who dares, grouse moors are no longer exclusive nature reserves for the wealthy. People can and are enjoying the hills like never before. I bridled strongly when Labour introduced their Right to Roam, fearing that it would be misused by the hard Left to stir up unnecessary trouble in the countryside.
This man can be forgiven because he lives in another country. It’s the country where money doesn’t matter, education is provided by direct debit and health care is ordered on the end of a telephone. My trouble is, these people have invaded my country and started dismantling it to raise money for a big bill that we didn’t ring up.
What’s revealing about this comment, though, is that people like Soames still fear the less-affluent classes below. They actually fretted over the idea that flying columns of activists would invade their moorlands and create anarchy. They could not comprehend, despite their expensive education, the fact that all people wanted was justice – the right to roam over land that was originally theirs, land that their forefathers defended and died for, land that is part and parcel of their native island.
When the grouse season’s over I’ll be back on the tops in my Che Guevara base layer. But for now I’ll keep my head down – and I’d advise you to do the same. And if you’ve got a teenage daughter, keep an eye on the legislation being rushed through Parliament. Ius primae noctis. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
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