Category Archives: Countryside

At last …

The British people have voted. The general election result is known. But what are we to make of it?

What we do know beyond all reasonable doubt is that the Conservatives, led by Boris Johnson, now have absolute control over Parliament. That suggests an extended period of austerity rather than a much-needed spend and borrow programme as set out in the Labour manifesto. I know which I’d rather have!Ballot Paper Cross 2

Of course, we don’t know for sure what an administration under Johnson will actually do. But, if the pundits and opinion-formers are to be believed, nothing Johnson’s administration does will go far towards healing the broken feeling that is so evident across much of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Are our country roads’ potholes to be fixed? And what about the dropped drains to be encountered almost everywhere? Will my car have to suffer many more knocks and blows to its suspension?

Will someone tell us what’s going to happen to our National Health Service? Will parts of it be sold off to some private enterprise so that they can make money out of it? Or will the new administration find some way of making the whole thing viable instead of ‘in crisis’, as we are so often told it is?

What’s going to happen to our schools, many of which are a disgrace to anyone who believes that a fair education can lead to a fair, well-paid career?

And what about our police force? It seems to be very short-staffed at the moment, all over the country. I can’t remember the last time I saw a local policeman or policewoman ‘on the beat’.

As to the nation’s social services, they seem stretched beyond belief. People are sleeping on the streets of our cities, because there is little or nowhere else for them to go. Others are suffering from severe deprivation because the system cannot cope with their physical or mental health problems.

As you can see, the election result seems to raise more questions than answers, all of which are relevant to a broad society that includes the less-well-off as well as the comfortable rich.

I live in a retirement area, so I probably won’t see much of the horror that seems about to be perpetrated on our nation. My pension and investments will shield me from the worst of it all. But I can’t help feeling that we – the liberal-minded community – are in for a rough ride over the next little whiles.

Let’s hope that Boris proves to be more of a “one nation” Tory than his recent election performance suggests.

Let’s also hope that he is less in the pocket of what looks like his hard-right cabal.

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What does he think he’s up to?

The Supreme Court seems to matter not a jot to Boris Johnson. Even as I write, he’s probably plotting how to wriggle out of whatever they may conclude.

To me, he has conspired to prorogue Parliament just so that he can call an election, which he probably thinks he will win. On the surface of it all, he may be right. He might just win – even with an outright majority.

Personally, I can no longer decide which side I’m on: in or out. Part of me wants to remain in the European Union, because we’re stronger in it by being part of a large market, and because we may be able to influence how it [the EU] should be reformed. And reformed it should be. The other part of me wants to be out of it all together, so that they [the other Europeans] can get on with it, whatever it may be.

Either way, I am utterly fed up with people talking about Brexit when they don’t even know what kind of Britain they want – or what they’re being offered. Those who want another referendum based on questions about a future Britain – and there are many – have my sympathy. Especially when they say they will abide by the result. I don’t feel strongly about any party, let alone one that says what it would do if it were in power.

What does bother me is that Johnson and his cronies don’t seem to understand anything about what’s happening in the country, outside the Westminster village.

I live in East Devon, which is – by turns – prosperous and down-at-heel. Goodness knows where the local farming and agricultural communities think their money will come from, once they’re no longer able to enjoy EU grants. That’s to say nothing of the retail sector, which is facing its own problems.

But, of course, Boris knows best! We shall leave the EU at the end of October, come what may. Or to use his own words, “do or die”.

I’d rather die than listen to any more of his blustering rhetoric.

What the people of this country want is to get on with it, or so he says. Get on with what, I ask? We live in a broken society and nothing, but nothing, he has ‘promised’ will fix things as they currently are.

He is, it seems, beyond predicting.

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Constables country

ANDREW HAD ALWAYS been a keen photographer. He never went anywhere without a camera. One had become a part of him. Anything from a point-and-shoot number to some full-blown SLR digital kit.

Today, as so often, he first saw the scene out of the corner of his eye.

‘I ought to capture that’, he thought, having begun to think he was quite something in the world of landscape photography.

He drove on for a mile or so, hoping to get a better view of the scene, but the hedges were too high for him. And, anyway, he had to pay attention. He’d given himself a fright earlier on by only just missing a huge tractor driven at what he thought was break-neck speed by an evil-looking, older man. It had come thundering round a corner with a massive trailer in tow.

Nevertheless, he pulled off the road, cut the car’s engine and searched for his camera. He knew he’d couldn’t miss an opportunity like this; he’d have to walk back and take a picture of the view.

He began his lonely journey. The hedges didn’t seem to be any lower. If anything, they were higher than he remembered them. After a while he came to a turning off the road.

He didn’t recall it as he’d driven by. But then, he’d been paying attention and probably hadn’t noticed anything except the road in front of him. He guessed the lane would’ve been off to his right, going slightly backwards as well, and thus easy to miss. The hedges were lower here, so he thought he’d take a chance. He hoped he’d see something off to his left. He remembered that the scene seemed to have something else growing in front of it. That’s what he was looking for.

He walked on. The fields were flat on either side of the road, carpeted with yellow and white flowers. Birdsong was all around. ‘How idyllic’, he thought. There ought to be a cow or two around, but he wasn’t one to complain. Blue Sky Day

At the end of the lane he saw a shop, slightly above the main track and a little off to his right. Three people were standing outside, gossiping. Two turned to look at him, one raising her hand to shield her eyes against the sun as it lowered itself into the far horizon.

Despite his careful description, none of them could recall the scene, or locate it anywhere. There were so many like it round there.

Realising the truth in what they said, and that he would never be able to make anything new out of what was around him, he knew he would just have to go back to the car and pick up his journey from where he had stopped.

A few hundred yards from his destination, he heard two gunshots. ‘Probably some farmers, killing rabbits or some other vermin’, he thought. ‘Although this is an odd time of day to be doing that.’

As he turned a corner, he saw his vehicle up ahead.

It looked a little sorry for itself, leaning almost into the ditch that ran alongside the road. He wasn’t worried; he had gambled on that earlier, when he parked up, so he wasn’t surprised to see it lurching to the right a little.

As he opened the car door to get in, he saw that the front right-hand tyre was flat. ‘Must’ve run over a nail, or something’, he thought, as he reigned himself to changing the wheel.

Then he noticed the two neat holes in the tyre.

‘Bloody farmers’, he thought.’Always thinking they can take the law into their own hands.’

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