17 February 2011 § 2 Comments
The Coalition has just announced that it won’t be selling off our publicly-owned woodlands after all:
If you were one of the half-a-million people who signed the petition against the plan, thank you. Occasionally, just occasionally, democracy can be seen to be working.
25 January 2011 § 8 Comments
In its drive to straighten out the nation’s finances, the Coalition (I won’t call it the government, as no-one actually voted for it) is proposing to sell off publicly-owned Forestry Commission land in England to raise a bit of cash.
The abysmal record of our formerly state-owned utilities in private ownership (the railways, buses, gas, water, electricity, phones…) should be enough to make anyone nervous at the prospect of another sell-off. But there’s also an important point of principle at stake.
Forestry Commission land is PUBLIC. We have a RIGHT to walk our dogs, ride our bikes and horses and take our children to play in them. As it is, 70% of the land in Britain is owned by less than 1% of the population (almost without exception congenital Tory voters).
Furthermore, the Forestry Commission, for all its faults, is now reversing its old, discredited policy of mass conifer planting and restoring our ancient woodlands – Britain’s equivalent, in habitat and biodiversity terms, of the tropical rainforest. Unfortunately, while of inestimable value for wildlife and recreation, our indigenous broad-leaved woods are far less profitable than coniferous monoculture. You can guess which way a new commercial owner is likely to lean.
There’s a huge groundswell of opposition to the plans, with the splendid Woodland Trust in the vanguard. Whether the Coalition will listen is another matter.
THE UNKINDEST CUT
Our politicians found the means to ease
The crisis in the banks that caused the crash,
And keep our struggling soldiers overseas
By cutting jobs and wages. But more cash
Is still required, so now we find our woods
And forests on the market. Public lands
And ancient oaks and coppice merely goods
To sell off cheap, and once in private hands
We’ll never get them back; then enterprise
Will take the place of stewardship. Behind
Locked gates and out of sight of prying eyes
They’ll plant their conifers and rob us blind.
They’ve hocked our future, spent our legacy.
They will not take the greenwood. Not from me.
For more information, and to sign the online petition against the proposals, please click here. Thank you.
21 January 2011 § 8 Comments
It’s bonus season at the banks, and the billions are flowing once more. My feelings on the egregious sums involved, and the people receiving them, are not suitable for publication. Instead, I’ve written about the payments-in-kind over and above my modest income I receive on a daily basis, courtesy of the Bank of Mother Nature.
FEATHERING MY NEST
Today, I got my bonus.
But I am no sacks-of-gold man;
My pockets are as shallow
As my wonderings are deep,
My profit margins narrow
As my wanderings are wide.
I took my reward
In the rosy blush of bullfinches,
A fieldfare blizzard,
The gallybird and magpie’s laugh,
The high keening of the buzzard
Black against a near-spring sky,
And my dog’s joyous circling
Of meadows lost last week to flood;
Free of tax, guilt and opprobrium,
Out of reach of moth and rust;
All mine to give away.
4 January 2011 § 1 Comment
Apparently, the prospects for the UK economy are better in 2011 than in 2010. Which isn’t really saying a great deal; after all, you can’t fall off the floor. I’m certainly hoping it’s a more positive year; just in case, though, I’m considering a Plan B. As the bankers have so graphically demonstrated, these days, competence just doesn’t pay.
If not better, I’m no worse
Than I was
Why is it I
Now have to settle
For a whole lot less
While the men who made
All this mess
Doing very nicely,
Maybe it’s time
I dropped the ball,
Downsized my scruples
And made life simpler
Knowing that as others
Picked up the bits
I’d still be sure
Of cleaning up.
22 December 2010 § 4 Comments
There’s no L in Mastercard, Visa or debt,
In Where can we buy one? or What did you get?
There’s no L in party frocks, panic or stress
No L in consumption, exhaustion, excess
In hangovers, arguments, waking at five,
Or that this is a season we have to survive.
Look up ‘turkey’ in Chambers and what do you see?
You guessed it – and what’s more, there’s no L in ‘tree’.
Of course, none of this should be any surprise:
There’s no Christ in Christmas in most people’s eyes.
There’s no L in Santa, I’m sorry to say –
And there’s no L like Christmas in Britain today.
24 June 2010 § 2 Comments
You have to love the British tabloid press: no one understands or panders to their readers’ prejudices like they do. Foremost among these paragons is The Sun, which today ran a front-page picture of England’s footballers (who, having scraped a win in their final group game yesterday, will now play Germany on Sunday) under the headline ‘Job done…now for the Hun’. Makes you proud, it really does.
FUN IN THE SUN
I wish my job was writing
Front-page headlines for The Sun;
No fear or favour anywhere,
Offending just for fun
And feeling justified
In calling Germany ‘the Hun’.
I’d have a licence to insult
Belittle, shame, abuse:
My petty spites and prejudice,
All my outrageous views,
Would gain respectability
Because they were the news.