Under the old ‘normal’ we would currently be in mid-show season ranging from the Festival of hunting a trip to a French Fete de la chasse, through to Lowther. This Editorial would be written in the ‘downtime’ between finishing the stock layout and chatting to fellow stallholders. But as we now know the normal has gone to be replaced by the ‘new normal’ Despite the necessary disruptions to competitors, trade stands and the intended audience the cancellation of events this year has largely been accepted with good grace as a rational step. It also means that we have missed hearing unnecessary tantrums from stallholders who for example:- booked a 3m space without realising that the actual dimension of their exhibition trailer included the 1 metre A-frame and tow hitch which now, whatever they try will not fit in ‘their’ space. Or the stallholders who preferred a different space to the one allocated for them and proceeded to install themselves as they saw fit. Or, worse still those who turn up in the early hours when everyone else has finished and demand that the onsite security team arrange to move vehicles and trade stand layouts so that they can occupy ‘their space’. The moral? When attending events spare a thought for the organisers – they have a difficult job to do in a noticeably short timeframe. Keeping those unreasonable people who have channelled their inner toddler in a bid to get their ‘own way’ happy is not in their job description, nor should it be. Perhaps, with the development of new social interactions in the ‘new normal’ such social relationships will be tempered by a new social consciousness which is driven by an awareness of others and not an irrational inner toddler.
Readers of a certain age may well remember a character in Richmal Crompton’s Just William books called Violet-Elizabeth Bott who utilised such behavioural traits to her advantage. Often in combination with her effective lisping threat: “I’ll thcream and thcream and thcream till I’m thick”. The global development of this sort of reactionary ‘it’s all about me’ type policy is currently being promoted at every media opportunity by a small but vociferous group who have a moveable feast of agenda items which they find ‘unacceptable’. Accompanied by ‘made for TV’ wailing, foot-stamping and dramatic tantrums which seem to have replaced of reasoned, logical debate, the “I don’t like ‘it’ so ‘it’ must stop” mob are growing in confidence and aspiration. And it is disappointing that much of the mass media, owned as it is by a small clique seem unwilling, or perhaps unable, to mount a suitably robust challenge to such antics such as Historical Revisionism.
Historical revisionism is not a plaything for toddlers of any age and the maxim ‘be careful what you wish for’ should be a health warning to the development and promotion of such muddled strategies.
In the world of fieldsports, examples of the risks of such approaches can be found with little effort. Take for example the current AR of the RSPCA and contrast that with their position in 1949 in which The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported that they could not support the Prohibition of Fox Hunting Bill because they had yet to find a satisfactory way of dealing with foxes. They accepted that foxes must be kept down because of the damage they do in destroying poultry and lambs. The report went further stating “The society could not advocate the use of poison because of the danger to other animals and birds. Foxes only lie in earths for about two months of the year, so that gassing and trapping would not be practicable. As regards shooting, experience of this method has not been satisfactory as the fox is a wily, animal and there is the attendant danger of foxes being wounded and suffering a lingering death. They state that while they can never advocate the hunting of any animal, they must be practical and not seek to put an end to existing practices by, substituting others that may be more unsatisfactory.” Further, in 1962, they stated that “The R.S.P.C.A. do not approve of hunting for sport, but they are convinced that fox control is necessary and fox hunting is LESS CRUEL than poisoning, gassing, shooting or any other known method”
So how then did the RSPCA get from the position of acknowledging that “fox control is necessary and fox hunting is LESS CRUEL than poisoning, gassing, shooting or any other known method” to the one they adopt today where AR policies are cleverly marketed as being integral to animal welfare?
Furthermore, what is the public interest in biased reporting about hunts and hounds at local news level which is now almost exclusively run by one Corporation to the situation where, during mid ‘lockdown’ someone at the Independent trawled back to 2005 to find a ‘Spectator’ piece written by the current PM, who was Editor at the time? www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-fox-hunting-sexual-illegal-ban-a9624846.html (July 18th 2020)
Was this report dragged out of the archive from 2005 and featured in a weekend newspaper in mid lockdown just so that a bored sub-editor could win a virtual game of ‘Headline Bingo’ by managing, as they did, to get the words ‘sexual’, ‘Boris Johnson’ and ‘Fox Hunting’ in a single semi-coherent headline?
Alternatively, and more realistically perhaps, it appeared because there appears to be a perception in the media that today any concept of hunting and hounds is so far out of the frame of reference of most urban and suburban households that lurid half-truths, and great big lies about all field sports, can gain an unassailable foothold in a post-pandemic world and that such a strategy sells news media and, in turn, provides a backbone to a wide variety of AR fundraising activities. Activities which were dismissed by history as unsatisfactory as they would lead to inevitable wounding and suffering a lingering death.