Thursday, November 10, 2005

A busy week for the bunny-huggers

INCAPACITATED with a bad back, I can only look on with envy as my man Whittaker sets off for the first official fox hunt of the season.

Having failed miserably to train a pack of fox cats, he has been poring over the detail of the Hunting Act and reckons he has found a way to stay within the law. Apparently you can use hounds to flush a fox from cover as long as there is a bird of prey waiting to perform the kill.

Some hunts have already borrowed peregrine falcons or sparrow hawks, but Whittaker has gone one better. He’s somehow acquired an African vulture called Martin “from a bloke he met in a pub”.

They make a touching pair sitting in the Lower Meadow sharing a slice of crow and dormouse terrine. It would be like a scene from Kes if it wasn’t for Martin’s habit of swooping on passing pets and carrying them off to his lair. He’s only been here a week and already you can’t find a lamp-post without a missing Yorkshire Terrier poster on it.

Of course, this bird of prey business is complete nonsense. No-one expects a fully-grown fox to be pecked to death by a kestrel, although at four foot tall and six stone, Martin the vulture may prove the exception. In most cases the dogs will do the business as ever. And legally.

Which just goes to show what a ridiculous waste of time and money the whole farce has been. Edmund Burke, a 18th Century statesman, political thinker and part-time Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper, made the point: “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”

With over 200 hunts out at the weekend, with the attendant police presence to keep the animal rights loonies in check, and with the same number of foxes killed as in any other year, I think we can safely say that this Hunting Act is bad law.

And I will just point out that so far there has only been one successful prosecution under the new law. The criminal concerned wasn’t a red-coated, double-barrelled toff (the true target of the NuLabour class warriors), but 19-year-old Adam Pengilley, from Liverpool, who was convicted of hunting rabbits with two lurchers and was fined £155 last month.

IT’S BEEN a busy week for the bunny-huggers. Not content with tying up valuable police resources by playing the awkward squad at hunt meets, they’ve also found time to harass a small-time circus in Bolton.

The family-owned Peter Jolly’s Circus attracted demonstrators because it actually uses a live animal, in this case a performing Canadian bear. Now I remember when every circus had performing animals. Surely that was the point?

Lions and tigers, singing sea lions, dancing Poodles, and semi-naked ladies on coiffured horses – such was the stuff of Blackpool Tower Circus throughout my childhood. It was terrific entertainment and a formative experience.

But apparently this sort of thing is frowned upon nowadays, with most circuses being forced by the lentil-eaters into becoming animal-free. (Yet no-one seems to have given much thought to the poor penguins condemned to the dole queue. Apart from the odd gig doing a chocolate biscuit advert for TV, their prospects must have been limited.)

But back to Peter Jolly’s Circus, and the sad tale of Sparky the clown. When 15 members of the Manchester Animal Protection group turned up to hand out leaflets outside the circus, a row developed between the bunny-huggers and two members of the circus staff. One of these was Steven Thompson (28), who was dressed for his role as Sparky the Clown.

One of the wimmin present started taking pictures of Sparky and after a scuffle claimed to have had her camera shoved into her face. She was taken to hospital with a minor injury to her mouth. Her moustache is believed to have escaped unscathed.

Not so Sparky the Clown. He was arrested and cautioned after admitting common assault. Perhaps he should have just stuck to chucking buckets of tinsel at children or driving round in a collapsing car.

Luckily, Sparky seems to have kept his job. And even if he had been sacked, he’d probably have been able to go to an industrial tribunal claiming Funfair Dismissal.

POOR DAVID Blunkett. Fancy having to resign as a Minister for the second time in a year. Yes, well …

Your sympathies might be tempered by the fact that as well as his £133,997 salary, which now falls to a hardly-miserly £59,095 as a mere MP, he will also receive a severance payment of £18,725 – the same as he got when he had to quit as Home Secretary.

It should also be noted that that nice Mr Blah allowed Blunkett to keep his grace and favour home in London, his protection officers, his Ministerial car and his chauffeur after he resigned first time around. And then there are all those lavish expense allowances.

So don’t shed a tear for Mr Blunkett. Cry buckets over the way you’re funding the cushy lifestyle of a man whose judgement makes him unfit to be Sparky the Clown’s stand-in.

MRS BEELZEBUB needed to go to the doctors last week for a routine treatment. (Women’s stuff. I didn’t ask.)

She phoned on Monday asking for an appointment on Friday, the day most convenient for her. She reckoned without the harridan manning the diary. “You can’t book an appointment in advance,” she said. “You’ll have to phone on Friday morning and take your chance.”

Mrs B. is not a woman to be trifled with. She pointed out the fact that booking an appointment in advance was to the advantage of the doctor and that if she had to phone on Friday morning, and was successful in securing ten minutes of his valuable time, she might be denying that appointment to someone who was actually ill.

No dice. In Mr Blah’s target-led Britain, common sense is regarded as dangerously old fashioned. If Joseph Heller ever needed inspiration for a follow-up to his classic novel Catch 22, he’d be spoilt for choice. If he wasn’t dead, of course. Perhaps he couldn’t get an appointment at the doctors …

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this newspaper, of anyone who says “Can I get?” when they mean “I would like”, of anyone who doesn’t understand why we aren’t training our native red squirrels to beat up the invading grey squirrels, or of anyone who is still struggling to reconcile the sybaritic shenanigans of the BBC’s Rome series with their Latin classes at school.


Blogger God said...

I'm all for fox hunting, cock fighting, bear baiting and badger baiting it is the only way to keep their numbers under control and give us working chaps a bit of sport at the same time. If they are all banned then think of the number of unemployed dogs there would be - shocking!

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Jake said...

One thing about Bird's of Prey, I've got one and he's taken rabbits. I woulden't doubt him taking a fox, though I'd rather not attempt it. He's a Red-Tailed Hawk over here in the US, yep. Just sorta felt like saying that.. Kestral's err would have great difficulty in killing any game larger than a song bird..

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Stuart said...

What about master baiting? It's an enjoyable past time, and far less painful than cock fighting...

9:00 PM  

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