My solution to the Runton Hall rabbit infestation is simple: build a city. This is also my solution to everything in the countryside, from nettle stings to lack of public transport. In a city, rabbits would be licensed by a governing authority, like cabs. If they misbehaved they would be issued with a caution and moved along, with unrulier ones detained overnight and presented to local magistrates in the morning. The countryside is not like this, and unfortunately the countryside is where Runton Hall is. It exists in a state of anarchy and bloodlust. If country laws were to be adopted in the city, Graham would flush shoplifters out of their houses with ferrets and chase them with dogs until the point of exhaustion, whereupon Joe would extinguish any remaining life by breaking their necks and skinning them. Living in the countryside is an affront to God and civilisation, and we must never allow it to be regarded as desirable, acceptable, or British.
I pointed this out to Graham today at dawn as he prepared his ferrets and dogs for a bit of rabbit culling. ‘Anton’ was supposed to be helping him, but is wary of Graham after an incident prior to the last cull when Graham asked him to hold up a roof beam in an outbuilding we are renovating and, with ‘Anton’ fully committed and visibly shaking under the strain, placed two ferrets in his shirt. Some say that it is still possible to hear the words ‘I’ll kill you, you bastard fucking pikey cunt’, and sundry other sentiments with which I will not trouble you, dancing in the wind on the west side of the estate on still, moonlit nights. We Cockneys are kind, gentle, trusting people, and all too often this is our treatment at the hands of country folk. Anyway. ‘Anton’ was instead employed installing nets across gaps in the fences where rabbits might escape, the sound of his hammering filling the morning air. ‘Sounds like he’s crucifying one of yer glampers’ said Graham, and I was moved to agree.
You probably can legally crucify a glamper in the countryside. It’s chaos out here. In their defence, the quality of Runton glamper has risen now that ‘Anton’ and I are stricter about who glamps and who doesn’t. For a start, they pay more, in accordance with the old market trading rule that if you want to sell something, put the price up, which here translates to better behaviour when paying a premium. Also, we have the nice tents I bought for the Bollywood wedding to rent them, providing us with a useful side line income. Joe is on the payroll at Runton, Becka gets the Forest School money, so the Trustees usually allow ‘Anton’ and I to do whatever we like as long as it brings in revenue and is ‘the right thing to do’. Often, the ‘right thing to do’ would be to hold pillows across the faces of the Board members and, when they stop thrashing about, dismember them and feed them to Graham’s dogs as an act of Freeganism – but this is, I suspect, a legal minefield. Nonetheless, by charging the glampers more, encouraging tent hire and fining them when they go to sleep and leave their camp fires to burn uncontrollably, thereby requiring Joe to put them out at all hours of the night, they are far more welcome than they used to be.
They are messy though. This is what happens when you put the white middle class in a field – look at the state of Glastonbury when they’re done with it. Joe and I no longer wake them up in the morning by wandering through their enclosure shouting that someone’s found a way Jeremy Corbyn can still be Prime Minister, or that there’s going to be another EU Referendum, or that Great British Bake Off is not going to commercial television after all, and so forth. These days, we let them sleep in and ask them nicely to clean up after themselves, and almost all of them do so quite happily. I give the details of those who refuse, or who are basically dicks, to Graham’s kids, who then aggressively sell re-treaded tyres to them until they see the error of their ways. Graham’s kids, the oldest of whom is twelve, are fantastic. As you may recall, I acquired my dog, Archie, as part payment for teaching them how to read (‘A is for fucking apple, B is for fucking ball and my fucking bollocks. What’s this fucking book now? ‘I Don’t Like Fucking Snakes’? Who the fuck does? Rare old pile of shite this is’ and so forth) and they are inventive, hilarious and friendly, if relentlessly foul-mouthed and aggressively territorial around uncooperative glampers. ‘That’s what makes your holiday – the people you meet’ I usually say in a cheery manner as some Barney or Sophia drives back to Crystal Palace with tyres all over their back seat, and I’m sure they agree in principle.
With regards to the rabbit coursing, there isn’t much to say, other than it wasn’t a good day for Thumper and Bugs. Never likely to come out on top, were they. Incidentally, Archie does not participate in this sort of thing. He is a Saluki, and we Saluki owners treasure our dogs: I put great effort into every aspect of his well-being, from grooming (daily) to feeding (raw meat, bones and offal) to training (varied and extensive, and involving a sports psychologist*) but am obviously curious to see how well he could do the biz, if push came to shove. To this end, I shall be trying to get lure coursing past the Trustees at next Monday’s Board meeting. This is where a carrier bag is attached to a fishing line which is in turn attached to a motor, and dogs chase it hither and yon across a predesignated course like a bunch of nutcases. Larks ahoy!
*this is untrue.
Photards: Top – Saluki investigating a tree that fainted in the recent hot weather.
Middle inset: Cows in a field. This was taken in the early morning, when only the one on the left had been fully inflated.
Lower inset: Some white people nipping off to save the NHS. Picture taken from the BBC, who I believe are warmly supportive of my decision to use it here.