Rough Winds, Ramblings & Badgers – (and Prometheans bound and unbound)

Well, after such balmy beginnings, ‘rough winds’ soon made their presence felt to ‘shake the darling buds of May.’

A few days after I wrote my earlier post, rain-wielding gusts swept in like a temper tantrum. Petulant winds gripped the inside of our chimney with fist-like twists, the upstairs window boomed occasional surprise, and we were glad to stay indoors and lose ourselves in a double bill of Alec Guinness films – Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Man in the White Suit.

These classic Ealing comedies are worlds of brittle-gleaming. Big, satisfying doses of pure storyteller care for the imagination. Character – in more senses than one – asserts itself fully. Ours – and that of the people on the screen. What they, and we, think and do mixes in a dark-delicious concoction of humour, drama, pathos, farce, satire – and rumbustious chasings through and over and around a situation. We play catch with the touchstones that scuff our boots, as we tread the soil of the story.

In The Man in the White Suit, Alec Guinness’s face is a picture – a story and a code. My daughter loves what it tells her; wants to hug Sidney Stratton (the brilliant, inspiration-driven scientist Guinness plays) for his irrepressible curiosity and his naivety, but is also shown the harm single-focused pursuit of an idea might do. We watch too as outside forces gather round that idea, and less savoury motivations seek to take hold of the information gained; to manipulate it for their own ends and to bury inconvenient facts. The initial intention of an idea becomes warped, or is met head-on by all the complexities and flipsides of progress. The fears, pitfalls and connotations are revealed. The monsters we might unleash run like shadows through the mill town streets.

Whenever we switch channels to these old films, we travel to another age. I glimpse scenes similar to those I remember from the 1970s. Streets with only a smattering of parked cars; shop fronts piled high with practical wares; a community busily lingering in purposeful dance through the day. Are these the scenes I remember? Or are they constructs I recreate from film reels coiling between screen and mind? I’m with Wordsworth on this one; that we both ‘perceive’ and ‘half create’.

Here in the West Country, May was a month book-ended by sunshine; the weather between the two bank holidays an assortment of seasons, tumbling after each other in Ealing comedy chase. On a gloriously sunny day in early May, we followed an astonishing wayside blaze of dandelions along the route to Westonbirt Arboretum – and found a dandelion riot there as well.

Dandelions, Westonbirt Arboretum, May 2013

The day before, I had grabbed some moments to sit in the garden and read H.E. Bates.

Folio Society edition of The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates. Illustration by Alice Tait.

Folio Society edition of The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates. Illustration by Alice Tait.

As the early evening descended around me, our garden’s own crowds of dandelions began to close. Miniscule black flies appeared – like flecks of dusk – and darkened the ragged yellow flowers, settling there for a last-chance feed. Above me, swifts – the first back above our garden this spring – circled as if winding down the day. Their screams sliced the blue sky and served out a new section of the year…

By the end of the month, lingering crumbs of spring still flavoured the days – bluebells shaken out through the unfolding summer. Back on that early May visit to Westonbirt, we found them crowding the ragged feet of coppiced trees

Bluebells, Silk Wood, May 2013

– and were greeted by blossom as it was coaxed – slowly, slowly – by the sun.

Blossom, Westonbirt Arboretum, May 2013

Early purple orchids and lady’s smock scattered their usual haunts

Lady's smock - or Cuckooflower, Cardamine pratensis

Lady’s smock – or Cuckooflower, Cardamine pratensis

– and sculptures captured light and shadow…

Sculpture, Westonbirt Arboretum

and reminded us of the words of an artist whose eyes saw all the colours of the world

'If you love Nature you will see beauty everywhere' - Vincent van Gogh

‘If you love Nature you will see beauty everywhere’ – Vincent van Gogh

On a dazzling Sunday 26th May, blue dashed its own reminder, like spilt paint, amongst the trees above the town of Wells. As we descended the hill towards its outskirts, we gloried in the blur of bluebells, still fresh and seeking the sky. Blue was spread there above us too – and the green of the trees was a startling April-new. Strange juxtapositions were threaded through the month. We were jumbled into boxes of being, opening lids and finding the unexpected amongst the familiar old folds of the year’s pattern.

Wells Cathedral and cedar tree

Wells Cathedral and cedar tree

Adopting the slow pace of the tiny and ancient city, we sat outside Wells cathedral’s north transept and watched Time – waiting for the old clock to strike Four.

Wells Cathedral Clock

Our daughter, escaping into these precious moments away from GCSE revision, sat beside us, free-roaming the pages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Folio Society edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Illustration by Harry Brockway

Folio Society edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Illustration by Harry Brockway

On the sun-warmed bench, she clung to the glacier alongside the Creature – and, as we got up to leave, was unable to tear herself away from his drama. Bowing to the demands of a good book’s ancient-mariner-grasp, we sat down again, listened to the cathedral walls hum with organ music – an apt and atmospheric accompaniment to the Promethean struggles that were riveting our daughter to the spot. That night, back home, she came downstairs for tea sniffing back tears – and we knew which scenes she’d been reading. We’d been there too.

High on the Mendips, there had been new beginnings and a long, resounding wave of birdsong – like sound caught inside a drum; the blue sky taut and seamless. A falcon (we think a peregrine, though we weren’t sure) smoothed it tighter with the silent sweep of arrowed wings. Countless tadpoles filled the pool on the Priddy Mineries reserve…

Tadpoles in pool on Priddy Mineries Nature Reserve

Priddy Mineries Nature Reserve, Somerset

Priddy Mineries Nature Reserve, Somerset

…an adder darted across the car park to evade a passing dog, and the butterfly theme of the day was White – green-veined, small white, orange-tip – with the occasional peacock colouring the edges. The reserve felt like it was sleep-walking the spring, trailing the previous seasons behind it and tangling them up in its dreams. The new, dominating green was languid with a shut-eyed tardiness; van Gogh’s colours hidden deep beneath in slow waking. The landscape stretched thinly a sense of teeming – gradually, gradually – into resurrected life. A Frankenstein landscape-in-time, pieced together by mismatched elements of happening and expectation.

And, as we drove back across the Mendips and down into hedge-lined valleys, past stone cottages patched into being with mined-out parts of the hills – we were saddened by the lifeless bodies of badgers on the roadsides. We counted four during our circuitous journey through Somerset and back towards Bristol. Our thoughts turned to the senseless badger cull about to begin in Somerset and Gloucestershire on the 1st of June – an unjustifiable measure undertaken against the scientific evidence, against the parliamentary vote and against the wishes of the majority of the public. It is a step that will serve no purpose – except to further justify the sadness and consternation Frankenstein’s Creature felt, as he began to learn the contradictory nature of humanity. All the time, something tugs against the heights of our achievements and our better side, and proves the destructiveness of mind sets that drag us down. Prometheus bound and unbound – in a constant round.

Earlier this year, in April, I was putting milk bottles out late at night, when a movement by our front gate caught my eye. I glanced round as a small, squat animal passed by our car. Thinking it was our neighbour’s grey cat – and stupidly wondering why it had suddenly morphed into a strange shape, with such short legs and a stubby tail – I suddenly realised I was watching a badger. As I clinked the milk bottles in surprise, the badger startled into action, lolloping away across the road – its wide, low-slung body rocking in very un-catlike motion. Just at that moment “our” local fox appeared from further down the road, catching up with the badger with a playful, questioning leap as they both fell into step like old pals, and disappeared down the alley behind the houses and back towards the woods.

I knew that badgers had long been visiting our suburban garden – the evidence was everywhere – and our neighbours had seen them several times. Last year, we were excited to see them ourselves, when we were called to the window by an almighty disagreement over a slug between two badgers on our garden patio. “Our” fox too had been very much in evidence. During his nightly travels, he – and possibly the very habit-following badgers too – have worn away the grass, creating a narrow trail alongside our hedge, making our garden part of the local wild mammal map. At dusk, we often see the fox trot along the trail towards our compost heap and round through the gap in the hedge. Sometimes he will linger on our lawn, and sit gazing around him – or absently scratch an ear, totally relaxed, listening to the twilight murmurs. If he sees us watching, he will dart beneath our damson trees, but if we remain still, he will emerge again, stand on his hind paws to drink from the bird bath – his wary, black-backed ears pricked our way.

Once, years ago, I inadvertently disturbed a fox asleep in a hollow in our flower bed. It was late morning on a sunny day in early spring, I was hanging out the washing; the fox woke and stared at me in alarm. We both stood transfixed, each in our own space; Creatures of nature – near and far apart – and it was too much for the fox. I wanted it to stay; for me not to be the thing it feared. I felt in that moment that I was the Frankenstein’s “monster” – un-belonging and set apart. But so often, when it comes to a meeting between humans and wild creatures, that’s how it has to be. Some lines in the sand are made out of respect for the differences, and to ensure flourishing and protection.

But others are made out of the complete opposite – out of a profound disrespect for what should make us feel kin.

In the face of the terrible badger cull that has now been unleashed, I ask myself – is humanity doomed to always pin its own lack – its own ills – to some scapegoat; to make a Frankenstein’s Creature out of “progress,” to tangle the truth in a net of power play, politics and vying motivations – and to reject the chances we have to truly learn, move forward and grow?

Sometimes, I just want to put my head in my hands and despair. But, I’m still hanging on to the belief that the better side of human nature can win.

Many voices have joined together to speak out against the cull. And a few days ago, a song was released that brings together the voice of the legendary Sir David Attenborough – with a guitar solo courtesy of the also legendary Slash! Here they are as part of the Artful Badger and Friends, joining forces along with Brian May, Shara Nelson, Sonny Green, Kerry Ellis and Sam & The Womp, to protest via the Badger Swagger:

‘…scientists reject the idea of scientific support for the cull, which could wipe out 100,000 badgers, a third of the national population. The cull policy is “mindless”, according to Lord John Krebs, one of the UK’s most eminent scientists and the architect of the landmark 10-year culling trials that ended in 2007. “The scientific case is as clear as it can be: this cull is not the answer to TB in cattle. The government is cherry-picking bits of data to support its case.”

– From an article in The Guardian – Badger cull ‘mindless’ say scientists

Head over to Daniel Greenwood’s blog to see his great photos of the Stop the Badger Cull march, which took place in London on Saturday 1st June.

Another fellow blogger, Louise Hastings, has timed the release of her new children’s novel, Beatha – A Badger’s Story, to raise awareness of the issue. From the sales of her book, Louise will be raising funds to donate to The Badger Trust.

The petition against the badger cull can be signed at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

Badger (picture taken at Wildwood Trust, near Canterbury, Kent in 2005)

Badger (picture taken at Wildwood Trust, near Canterbury, Kent in 2005)

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22 thoughts on “Rough Winds, Ramblings & Badgers – (and Prometheans bound and unbound)

  1. Melanie, thank you so much for mentioning my children’s book. You write so eloquently about the beauty of nature around us that I can’t help but feel I’m standing there with you, watching….I always feel so priviledged when I come across a wild animal. I don’t understand the violence against our wildlife or indeed, the badger cull. It makes no sense at all. But I shall be praying for our beautiful badgers and hope that people (and our grubby politicians) will realise the futility of this action. Thank you for this post x

    • Louise, I was so pleased to be able to mention your children’s book here. It’s so heartening to know the dedication to wildlife and nature that’s out there – and to hear the voices that are speaking out, through their own passion and creativity, against the senseless destruction. Hope all’s going well with your novel and other writing. Looking forward to catching up with the latest soon. It always seems like a battle to find spare moments for blogging (so much family stuff to keep me on my toes!) Apologies for taking a while to reply – thanks so much for your lovely words. x

  2. This might be extreme, but my partner cancelled the milk and only drinks soya milk in protest at the cull – you can’t imagine my guilt at bringing in proper milk, especially now they do soya milk doesn’t curdle in coffee!

    So often anti-cull protestors are told they’re urbanites who don’t know ‘the reality’, but hearing from a friend first-hand, living right in the heart of a farming community, was really eye-opening – even if I hadn’t been against the cull already. And she’s someone who’s an incredibly practical, experienced and down-to-earth protector of animals and wildlife, not a sentimental animal lover.

    Human nature can be really depressing, but you manage to express this with hope… thanks for all the lovely connections via Alec Guinness and Mary Shelley…

    • Glad you liked all the connections. This post went on a thought-wander all by itself as I wrote it, dragging me along behind it and leaving me wondering what route it was following, or where it was going to end up. The connections strung themselves together along the way – revealing that they’d secretly been having conversations with each other in my subconscious, probably for some time!

      I can totally understand your partner’s actions re. the milk. It’s something I haven’t done myself – so I understand your sense of guilt too! Oh yes – the “urbanites” not knowing ‘the reality’ accusation. It goes round and round and round, doesn’t it. Often, it’s just a let’s-muddy-the-water tactic, and belongs to one version of ‘reality’ as seen by a very particular set of attitudes. It gets me so annoyed, because I do appreciate the complexities of these situations (to adopt one of my dad’s oft-used phrases ‘I’m not so green as I’m cabbage-looking’) – but feel that the ecological, scientific and moral complexities are not understood, or are deliberately ignored, in that version of ‘reality’ that paints the rest of us as so ignorant. Also, I’ve seen that ‘sentimental urbanite’ accusation flung at the least sentimental, most practical-knowledge-based types you can imagine. People like your friend, people who are wildlife and ecology experts, who work on habitat and land management projects, or who are scientists dedicated to the truth of the evidence. I’ve even seen it levelled at people who have farming backgrounds, but who have voiced arguments against the cull. It’s a label that, scatter-gun applied, tries to undercut the sound grounding on which the arguments stand. I worked at a veterinary surgery years ago, and was daily reminded how life’s complexity means that sentimentality always fails in being large enough to really help an animal when it’s in need – but true recognition of the reality of relationship (love, respect, responsibility, empathy – however it manifests itself) and moral dedication to caring for that animal, achieves something very clear-sighted. Such an approach as your friend’s sees the heart of the situation, I think. (Wow – that unleashed a long, earnest ramble, didn’t it? Sorry about that!)

      • I’m familiar with ‘not so green as cabbage looking’, my grandma used that one! And nowt wrong with earnest rambles.

        I think everyone’s experience and expectation of ‘countryside’ is incredibly complex, and for those who make a living from the land, I imagine it’s instinctive – ironically, they are a part of generations far more in tune with ‘wild nature’ than any of us who don’t rely on making a living/survival from the land. That’s not something palatable or easy for those detached from working with the land in this way to appreciate I think. But it doesn’t mean their perspective is uninformed.

        Apparently Asda, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose have said they stock milk outside the cull areas but this sounds a little difficult to manage…

        • Great to hear your grandma used the same phrase! My grandparents were a fount of such sayings too!

          Yes – I agree, there’s so much complexity involved in issues of relationship to the countryside. I wish that could be acknowledged far more often by everyone involved – and that folk would listen to each other more, and admit what could be learnt from each other in order to actually find real solutions – via the actual truth, rather than biases or convenient scapegoats. Don’t know if it’ll ever happen (Alec Guinness’s film seems to fit the archetypal situations we tend to find ourselves in) – but it’s a lovely dream anyway!

          I think the Co-op has also said it is trying to offer milk from outside the cull area, but can’t give absolute guarantees, due to chains of supply. We have organic milk deliveries from our local milkman – another example of those old complexities kicking in, as we don’t want to stop ordering from him – he gets few enough customers as it is, due to all the competition from the supermarkets! I’ve always hoped that by buying organic milk, we’ve added support in some small way to farmers who are wildlife friendly. But, it’s difficult to know exactly what good we’re doing at such a remove from the cow! I was born and grew up in the countryside, but farming policies and pressures on land and rural communities have changed so much over the years… I’ve got memories of some great farmers – and came across some who were definitely not wildlife friendly!

  3. Hi Melanie, a great post, as ever. Hard to know where to start with Owen Paterson. This whole thing is about the way we farm the land, the stranglehold the NFU has over environmental stewardship, the ludicrous wealth of an industry that discards so much of its produce, poisoning the land in the process. And so apt that you mention Frankenstein, badgers are being scapegoated.

    One thing that does concern me about our response to this is when groups begin to turn it to their own agendas. We should focus on the fact that what the government is doing is wholly undemocratic, unscientific and morally debased.

    The good that will come from this, I think, is that we will eventually see environmental policy free from the short term realm of politicians. It will take time, but we have to keep making these points in public and fighting for what is scientifically and morally sound.

    Rant over. Keep up the good work, glad to have you back.

    Daniel

    • Many thanks, Daniel! It’s a real tonic to read your impassioned thoughts and to hear the hopes you see ahead on the horizon. You’re so right, it’s always hard to know what to point to first when there are so many strands to all these complex, huge and far-ranging concerns and interconnected problems – which together also form (or are part of) a kind of root problem affecting our countryside today. But you’ve managed to capture a great in-a-nutshell-summary of the essence of it all – and I really like your point about groups which try to turn things to their own agenda. Yes – so true; that manipulation aspect can occur on all sides of an argument. That ‘Man in the White Suit’ type tussle of interests around the essential intention/ truth are always in danger of becoming the focus instead; and the resulting distraction, fracture, discredit by association just serves to stoke up that maelstrom of a clash of interests – whilst the core concerns, issues and any possible moves towards a solution, can get swamped, which is so frustrating.

      After years and years of the same old repeating merry-go-rounds, it can all get so wearying and dispiriting sometimes, but I so agree – it’s vital to keep the hope and the focus and to never give up trying…

      Thanks again for your stirring and inspiring words!

      Melanie

  4. Another wide ranging view of the state of nature at a moment in time, Melanie.My aunt in Wales, where so far they have fought off the cull, feeds badgers every night and has done for years now. There is a lot of opposition locally and not just from farmers but also those who don’t like having their lawns dug up. They recently had badgers in the churchyard at Laugharne( where Dylan Thomas is buried) again causing consternation, but luckily seem to have avoided drastic measures against them. As a Londoner who visits the countryside rather than living in it I know I have to tread carefully, but it seems to me urbanites are often more appreciative of nature than those who live in it and maybe take it for granted.
    Having been reading George Monbiot’s stirring book on Rewilding I agree totally with Daniel about the stranglehold the farming community seems to have on environmental conservation. We do need to re-educate people about nature and its magic.

    • So interesting to hear that you’re reading George Monbiot’s book, Diana. I’ve been listening to his various interviews about Rewilding – and I’m so curious to explore his ideas further and to read the book myself. Nature conservation has gone through a fascinating evolution during the time since I did my initial training in conservation volunteering back in the 1980s. As I’ve not read all the details, I’m not sure what my response to Monbiot’s proposals are yet (having spent so much time involved in various projects continuing age-old land management practices to protect the associated species, I did feel an initial alarm for certain habitats!) but I do feel the pull of his ideas. He’s certainly stirred up lots of debate – which can only be a good thing!

      Whatever happens, we’ve got to join up the habitats. Spending time in nature reserves always highlights the huge differences between the ‘improved’ modern agricultural land – and the species-rich oases specifically managed for nature. All these isolated islands of magic full of hemmed-in wildlife with nowhere else to go. We also have to let nature do its own thing far more. I remember the panic after the 1987 hurricane when I was working as a Volunteer Field Officer for a nature conservation charity in Kent. Huge numbers of tree planting projects were immediately launched by various organisations – which seems a bit crazy, when natural regeneration does the job far better all by itself if the woodlands are left to get on with it!

      Really interesting too to hear about your aunt’s local badgers in Wales. Similar stories seem to surround most badger setts where people live nearby. I know that some of our neighbours are not too keen on the holes in their lawns – but our garden feels more of a special place because the badgers occasionally rearrange its earth a bit overnight. As you say, so magical to know that nature is thriving – and so close to home too!

  5. In the U.S. there are very carefully monitored hunting seasons for deer, wolves, alligators and buffalo (on Catalina Island). But it doesn’t make it any easier to accept: I live in the city, which might explain why I feel this way.

    This sounds close to a “mindless” slaughter which could run havoc with the very delicate arrangement Nature has arranged. Scientists vs. politicians over a question of animal population? Kind of obvious who should get the upper hand.

    • You’re right, Aubrey – it does seem so obvious, especially when the former government scientific advisor on this very issue (Professor John Krebs) says that pursuing the cull further makes absolutely no sense! But, as with so much in politics – when other interests are at work, that’s the way the wind starts blowing! I share your feelings about hunting – I just can’t understand how anyone could enjoy destroying any living thing.

      Badgers are actually a protected species in the U.K. and it is illegal to kill or harm them. This current cull is taking place in two specially licensed areas (in Somerset and Gloucestershire). The whole issue surrounds the problem of T.B. in cattle – many farmers are blaming the badgers for infecting the cattle with the disease. To me, it seems that the badger is being made a scapegoat and that this senseless action will involve a great deal of destruction and suffering, and will help no-one and solve nothing. The whole history of transmission of the disease is complex – with wildlife being infected by cattle and then wildlife infecting other cattle – and with movement of cattle affecting the spread of T.B. around the country etc. During Professor Krebs’ previous studies, it was found that culling wouldn’t reduce T.B. to effective levels – and that it actually spread the incidence of T.B., due to infected badgers seeking safety outside their home areas. Many wildlife conservationists and animal welfare organisations are calling for a vaccination programme to be implemented instead.

      • Hi Melanie, great discussion. I agree with what Diana says about urban appreciation of nature, there is a difference. I think that for some living out in the sticks a proximity to wildlife can feel too much like failure. Richard Mabey has some very interesting observations in Weeds about unmown lawns, the battle ground of domestic micro conservation.

        The reason why nature is worth arguing for is that it tops up your enthusiasm and love for it in so many ways. It can be a simple walk, an unexpected encounter with a wild animal. The failure of nature conservation, at this stage, is to

        • …the inability to translate the value of nature into something tangible. Obviously its value is beyond the monetary and material system in which we find ourselves in the UK. Without a healthy environment we cannot function or prosper, we cannot even begin to build or maintain a happy society.

          But, personally, I don’t want us to reduce nature to mere property. We should speak scientifically but also, as you do, of the intrinsic good that nature does us through walking, camping, bird watching, nature and poetry writing, to capture the interest of others.

          Daniel

          • Many thanks, Daniel – (sorry – I’d intended to get back to you far earlier than this! It’s been a struggle to grab enough time to find the concentration needed for blogging!) Yes, that personal element of intrinsic connection to nature is absolutely key to conservation success, I think. It sits right at the heart of what drives me to write this blog; all those inspirations and deeply felt routes into why a flourishing natural world is wonderful, both for its own sake and for ours…

            Great that you mention Richard Mabey. He’s one of my all-time heroes – a big influence on me since I started reading his work back when I was a teenager in the 1980s. Our average-sized “lawn” is currently a colourful patchwork of little “meadows” (ox-eye daisies, buttercups, dandelions, clover, etc.) with a pathway mown between. Really beautiful and so alive – a brilliant magnet for damselflies, bees and other insects. I’m not sure what all our neighbours think of it though. Probably, in the perception of some other people, we’re totally neglectful gardeners, who have failed to keep our grass in check! It’s all about attitude in the end, isn’t it…

            • A common conception, unfortunately. The theme here is to completely remove the front garden either for paving or weed retentive material. It’s up to the homeowner about what they want to do, but still, I hope it doesn’t last and more people garden as you do.

  6. Hi Melanie, I loved meandering along on your thought-wanderings with you, from books to butterflies and back again. Love the image of pinning our ills on scapegoats… Wish it was just an image rather than a reality. Big sigh. Yes, easy to despair sometimes, but the mystery keeps us going, we never know where our Prometheus journeys will take us next…

    • Thank you, Amanda – so pleased you enjoyed these meanderings! I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to reply (so much has been happening lately!) Yes – that’s how I see it too – lots of upward curves on the journey too. Life, and people, are so complex that there are always the inevitable upturns. Luckily, any sense of despair when it comes, soon gets booted out by my stubborn optimism, which I’m hoping will always remain this irrepressible…

  7. Hello Melanie,

    I haven’t really got anything to add here that hasn’t already been said – I agree totally with what you’re saying regarding the badger cull. I saw the article as well a few weeks back.

    The only time I’ve ever seen a live badger was in a town in England! Given it’s such a populated place I think it’s been wonderful the way some animals have managed to adapt in an urban environment. It’s sad that when it would seem that so many people evidently think likewise, their voices are being ignored.

    Living here in SW France, badgers or foxes don’t ever make their appearances in towns & if they did I’m pretty sure most people would not respond positively. I know that local farmers living just outside my town say that foxes eat their chickens & so they shoot them. A dreadful thing I saw once was a fox chained up just outside a chicken coop. Like some kind of a warning to other foxes!
    A previous neighbour used to shoot blackbirds & hang them in the cherry tree – as if blackbirds have logical brains & they’re going to be thinking ” better not try that, look what happened to him”!
    (To be fair, another neighbour told me he loved songbirds & always left the cherries at the top for them to enjoy).

    Anyway, let’s hope all those anti-cull signatures WILL make a difference.

    • Great to see you, Sonya. Thanks very much for dropping by – hope all continued to go well with your exhibition, and that you’re managing to find time and loads of inspiration for your paintings. So sorry for the delay in replying. I always seem to be playing catch up with everything – and it feels like I’ve been trying to find space to sit down and focus on blogging for ages!

      Yes, here’s hoping that things will take a better turn for the badgers and nature generally. It’s so encouraging that huge numbers of people here care about these issues – but I suppose, they do say that Britain is a nation of animal lovers! Even so, all the varying attitudes come into play, depending on the situation – or the line each individual draws in exactly how close they want to get to nature (and whether wildlife is in conflict with someone’s priorities or purpose – whether its livestock issues in rural areas, or a perfect lawn in a town). And then, there are some species that fare better than others in popularity – and some, like rats and mice, where lots of people might draw another line. I’ve heard some folk moan a bit here when our local foxes get into the rubbish and spread it round the street – but, that’s easily solved by making sure the bins are secure. Most people like to see them, I think. As you say, tolerance can be much less, depending on what the dominant attitude of a place seems to be. It must be hard to witness the things you describe happening locally to you. So dreadful that someone treated the fox in that senseless and cruel way. Your story about the blackbirds reminds me of a practice I’ve sometimes seen in the countryside here in England. Out on walks, we’ve occasionally come across dead moles hung up in rows all along a barbed wire fence – as if in some kind of bizarre warning to any other mole that may stray into the area, and pop its head up above ground! Lovely to hear about your neighbour who leaves the cherries at the top of the trees for the birds to enjoy. Hearing things like that always sows seeds of hope…

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