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Things About The Countryside That Make Me Angry, And Some Photographs I Have Taken Of Them
Autumn is possibly the time of year that makes me most furious when I’m in the countryside. It’s coming again soon, worse luck, and as always it will be disgusting and messy. Look at the state of this path I found a few autumns ago in Gloucestershire, a county I try to visit as rarely as possible because it has too many trees. And where was the path, precisely, you might ask? I will tell you: almost exactly equidistant from two entirely accessible branches of B&Q, both stocking corded leaf blowers for only £89 or, if like me you prefer a less stressful life, the cordless model for as little as £158.
You see cattle nearly everywhere you go in the countryside and literally every one of them is obsessed with money to the most pedantic and pitiful extent. It makes me want to vomit.
Check out the way some thoughtless bastard has neglected then abandoned this building that I found in some remote Cornish woodland. Such a criminal, sad waste. It could be easily converted into the headquarters of a multinational lifestyle company or law firm. Probably for less than 800k, with good planning and the right connections in the building trade.
WHY would you allow a pony in a graveyard? Get the damn thing out, right now, and back into a field or trailer. If it eats too much of that grass and soil, it will soon be getting further down and munching on the remains of somebody’s great great great grandma from 1874. Then who will foot the bill for the damage? Have any of you trendy “rewilding” folk thought of that?
This sign is so fucking dumb. Hedgehogs can’t drive, and even if they could, they wouldn’t drive fast.
For many years, the countryside has been a place that retired rock stars flock to for a quiet life, away from the pressures of fame. But more recently their presence there has gone from ubiquitous to downright claustrophobic. Most of them are city types who, in their youth, if you’d asked them what a thistle was, would probably have guessed that it was a breed of hen, yet now they strut around like the place is their ancestral birthright: a prime example being Roger Daltrey, of the once moderately exciting band The Who, who marched me haughtily off his land only seconds after I had snapped this photograph of him.
There is literally zero point to these mushrooms being here. We have Asda and Waitrose nowadays: have the custodians of this woodland not been informed? Not that you’d want to eat them anyway. You’d probably end up joining a cult or going off to start some depraved agricultural jazz fusion band with a gaggle of society’s dropouts. And this in National Park-owned woodland that I have seen children walking through with my very own eyes! Why hasn’t an employee been along to scrape them off that tree and put them in a bin? Actually, let’s go further than that. Just hack the entire tree down. It looks ill and isn’t doing any favours to anyone, least of all itself.
I am so comprehensively sick of these weathered doors that you get in all these old walls all over the countryside, with all their big talk and bullshit promises. It’s always like, “Ooh, look at me, with all my whimsical secrets. I bet you’re wondering what magical Edenic thing might be behind me.” I will tell you what is behind you: a garden. Big deal.
I’ve driven past this chimney loads of times and it doesn’t even work. No smoke ever comes out of it. Why does it have to be even there? And why is it so stupidly big? Also, what is this weird cow panda thing doing standing in front of it, so possessively? Cows can’t own chimneys. Perhaps it thinks of itself as some kind of antiquarian or aficionado of Victorian architecture? Move on, dude. The past is over. Also, let’s face it: your outfit doesn’t work. You like look an Oreo. People are laughing at you behind their hands.
Someone has done a thoroughly farcical job in laying these stones across a river. Look how uneven they are, for a start. And have they not heard of a convenient recent invention called a bridge? Imagine how much more pleasant on the eye this scene would be with some nice paving slabs, perhaps coated in Valencia grey, industrially glued flush to a half-submerged deep concrete base then top-fitted with a neat rectangle of non-slip astroturf. Aesthetically pleasing and safe. But I suppose something like that would be too “simple” for whichever self-centred penisface owns this feral upland valley.
So depressingly often it is the same when I am in the countryside: I’ll be walking along a nice even asphalt cycle path and the terrain will begin to rise, the way forward will become more rough and unpleasant, and before long small horses in flared trousers will appear, making the place worse for everyone in their innumerable ways. These creatures don’t seem to be owned by anyone, nor have any specific home, and use up the planet’s valuable resources by chewing on heather and drinking greedily from our rivers. Those in the photograph above were actually just two of eleven I saw in a single afternoon, gorging on moorland water that was making its way down to the nearest city, where it could have been used for all sorts of useful things such as the pressure washing of bifold doors or removing unsightly mud from sports utility vehicles. Yes, we impose our hosepipe bans and try not to let the taps run while we clean our teeth, but are we looking closely enough at the genuine root of the problem, where water is concerned?
Look at these cattle, so pathetically out of their depth, in one of the most southerly parts of England. They don’t even live in their own country any more. Not only were they blocking this road for absolutely no reason, they were doing it at peak commuting time, when people had jobs to get home from, children to collect from au pairs, prestige gym memberships to capitalise on, pilates classes to attend. Why is nobody here, shooing them the fuck out of the way? Where is the farmer? No doubt busy tending some “organic meadow” or instigating some faddish biodiversity scheme. Progressing along roads, especially rural ones, used to be easy. How have we allowed the world to deteriorate to the point where it no longer is?
This is my latest book all about about how angry the countryside makes me.
This is my next book, which will be published in spring 2024.