Sunday, 12 January 2014

Badger Politics New Week, New Challenges.

Chapter 1
I arrived home on Friday night, the end of a very wet week only to be greeted with an answerphone message from the Coopers.  The message wasn’t very clear but I had caught the word flood.  They had had a little flooding in their cottage last year which I thought I had put right in the spring, so fearing the worst I wasn’t in a real hurry to ring them back.  Nevertheless, after supper I returned their call. My concern however, was ill-founded as they had rang to tell me that the work I had done for them last spring in alleviating their cottage from any further flood damage had been accomplished and  had stopped them from being flooded yet again.  They were sitting at that moment in front of a roaring log fire and had never felt so safe and cosy.  Halleluiah, I thought.  The wettest week of the winter and the water had been kept at bay. 
 I remember their cottage from years ago and it never used to flood.  The thing with water courses, once blocked and restricted they can then start to create havoc in areas that were once trouble free.  Mrs Cooper then went on to say that Lord Foxton wanted to see me the following morning early.
“What’s that about?” I asked.
“Badgers” was the reply. 
Saturday morning at 8am, just getting light, I drove along to the Coopers’ cottage. Parked outside their cottage was the Range Rover of Lord Foxton’s.  As I knocked on the door I heard laughter and through the window I could see Mrs Cooper rise up from her armchair in front of the fire on her way to give me entrance.  She quickly whisked me into the sitting room where there was Mr Cooper, Lord and Lady Foxton and Alexandra.  But it was noticeable to me that on entering the room their faces which were a radiance of smiles appeared to go stony straight.  
“Cup of tea Allan?” asked Mrs Cooper. 
“Yes thank you.”  Lord and Lady Foxton along with Alexandra sat on the settee, Mr Cooper sat in his armchair. Mrs Cooper’s empty chair looked most inviting for a second in front of the glowing log fire.  An awkward silence followed, then Mrs Cooper came in and handed me the cup of tea.  She took her place in her armchair and gestured with her hand for me to sit down on an old leather pouffe which was positioned by the side of her chair.  No sooner had my behind touched the pouffe when the barrage from Lord Foxton began.
“What the hell did you think you were up to on Boxing Day?  All that smoke.  The afternoon’s hunting was totally ruined.”  I looked at the Coopers whose eyes didn’t leave the flames of the fire.  I noticed a smirk started to wrinkle the face of Alexandra.  
“Daddy’s friends had never had such a miserable time.”
“I am very sorry to hear that but it had absolutely nothing to do with me,” I fibbed, “but surely you haven’t got me round here just to talk about the Boxing Day hunt?”
“Badgers” replied Alexandra.  At last the Coopers eyes averted from the fire and all five people were staring, their eyes burning into me. 
“What about the badgers?”  I asked slightly uncomfortable.
“You promised us faithfully back in the late autumn that you would make the badger sett more concealed, more hidden.”
“Safe,” shouted Lord Foxton. “We were all up there yesterday and nothing has been done. You received our thoughts and plans on our Christmas card.” Which was true, I had, but the problems with all the rain and all the flooding programmes, I hadn’t given their badgers a thought.  The Coopers looked at me blankly. I tried to change the subject so I started to talk about the success of their now flood free cottage.  None of them wanted to hear it.  
Lady Foxton blurted out, “You said our badgers would have their cubs in the middle of February.”
“No I didn’t say that, I said that badgers have their cubs in the middle of February, I don’t know whether your badgers will or not.” What was encouraging me about this whole conversation more and more was that the Foxtons had no idea of the existence of our own badgers, Daddy Cool and his family.  The Coopers were the masters of espionage.  My fear of them letting it slip to the Foxtons was unjustified.  I could see that it was never going to happen. 
“Right,” said Lord Foxton getting up from the settee, “Let’s get up to the badger sett.”  We all put down our teacups and made our way to the Range Rover.  The Coopers climbed up into the back seat with Alexandra who seemed to be moving now amazingly well.  Lord Foxton at the wheel with Lady Foxton at his side in the front seat which left me sitting in the back with the two Labradors.  After a fifteen minute drive we arrived at Foxton Manor, then carried on through the grounds down towards the badger sett.  As we slowly rode along the headlands of the fields I thought back to the night when I had watched from the dug-out the Foxton family with the Coopers observing these badgers.
Soon we were clambering out the Range Rover looking over the stone wall onto their badger sett.  The leaves now were off the trees.  Everywhere was looking extremely wet, very bare, so stark and open.  I could immediately see their concern. 
“You see, you see,” Lord Foxton snapped, “Nothing has been done.”
“We are already on the 11th January. In six or seven weeks we could have some baby badgers,” retorted Lady Foxton. 
“I do hope so,” said Alexandra.  Just then, I noticed coming down the track Nimrod, Lord Foxton’s gamekeeper.  He was driving down in his Land Rover to join us.  I walked over to meet him.
“Morning Nimrod. I’m in a bit of trouble here.”
“Morning Al, what have you done now?”
“It’s what I haven’t done is the problem. If you could organise the delivery of four lorry loads of walling stone and over the next week or so see if you can get two  hundred  blackthorn and hawthorn saplings, I can then make a start on the concealment of this badger sett thus making it safe although, it isn’t going to be a five minute job, or cheap.”
We walked over to the Foxtons and I reminded them that the whole necessity of this was down solely to the party they have always supported. 
“With the remarks this week of the government’s inability or unwillingness to test badger carcases for TB and their explanation for this coming out in the guise that they work on the principle that all badges have the disease, these actions have created a climate of destruction for the British badger. They have opened the flood gates to such atrocities and cruelty being caused to the animal which I cannot bear to talk about.” 
Lord Foxton barked back, “The financing for all this is coming from the money that I would have donated to the Conservative Party.”
The Coopers, Nimrod, Lady Foxton and Alexandra all cheered.  A family that has supported the Conservative party for generations had now turned their support wholly to the badgers.  Let work commence.

A Water Course doing what nature intended, draining the land around.

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