Thursday, May 17, 2007

About eleventy billion years ago...

.... or to be more precise, in 1999, I wrote a column for the Big Issue. It was called Public Image Ltd, and it was all about taking a British institution each week and re-branding it, "new" Labour style.

I'm going to bash all 40 in here eventually, just to give them the afterlife they deserve. Starting with this one.

Originally published in The Big Issue, August 9 1999

Prince William. Isn't he the very model of a modern media monarch-in-waiting? The wraparound shades, the bullet-proof car, the wetsuit - and as of this Thursday, the chance to scatter his shot willy-nilly into a dumb, bewildered bird. No, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson hasn't come back into royal favour. It's the start of the grouse-shooting season, a sport eagerly indulged in by the various artists currently known as Prince.

Personally, I prefer deer-stalking. But the deer in question got sick of hte late-night phone calls and took out a court order against me. So hobbywise, this August is a straight toss-up between table tennis or going out and killing things.

Not that that's how we should be looking at it, of course. Instead of an annual ritualised bloodbath we should see an integral part of our countryside tradition that is, surprise surprise, in decline. According to those cuddly bumpkins at the Countryside Alliance, revenues from grouse shooting have gone down 60 per cent over the last six years. If things get much worse, they'll have to have the servants put down. But let's face it, however bad things get for the shooters, it's a rawer deal for the grouse (should that be grouses? Or maybe grice?)

At least with this one they can't use the fox-hunting argument - that it's not just an upper-class activity, but something that brings a lot of pleasure to the working classes as well, some of whom are apparently terribly nice people, and they have a natural sense of rhythm you know. With costs up to £100 a brace, plus VAT, a really good day's banging away is going to cost you upwards of a grand. And can you remember ever seeing battered grouse on the menu at your local chippy?

I say we give the little feathered fellows a sporting chance. We all know from 'Catch The Pigeon' that teh technology exists for shoulder-mounted avian weaponry. Your average grouse could pack a couple of howitzers with ease. A pheasant could handle a Colt .45. Coming next season: 'High Noon' meets the Glorious Twelfth. That's a sporting event I'd pay to see.

No comments: