16 Aug 2008

The Glorious Twelfth Makes A Convert

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Urbanista Amanda Platell takes to the moors for one of those journalistic visiting the rustic primitives who shoot think pieces, and finds the shooting sports and the pursuit of the red grouse nothing like what she expected.

Like many townies, my prejudices about the Glorious Twelfth were well and truly fully formed. The official start of the shooting season was nothing more than an ancient ritual to massacre thousands of defenceless birds.

The killers were a bunch of men with Prince Charles cut-crystal accents looking down their long aristocratic noses at ordinary folk like me, city folk, you know, the kind who have to buy their own furniture. Their dogs would have better pedigrees than me.

So it was with some cynicism and not a little trepidation that I agreed to take part in the Glorious Twelfth last Tuesday, the traditional start of the shooting season, on a moor on the Durham/ Northumberland border. …

Odd, isn’t it, that we city dwellers feel squeamish at the thought of an animal being bred and ultimately shot in the wild, yet feel no pangs over the battery chickens or pigs raised in appalling conditions for our table.

But I wanted to put my prejudices to the test and, more importantly, to try better to understand the problems facing our beleaguered countryside, bled dry by a government that neither knows nor cares about voters outside of their urban heartlands.

The Daily Mail does a fine job of demonstrating just how clueless it is, illustrating a red grouse (Lagopus lagopus) shooting article with a nice picture of a capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), and identifying a picture of a shooter aiming a great big over-and-under shotgun as the “traditional image” simply because the man in the picture is wearing tweeds. Amanda’s side-by-side double is, of course, far more traditional. Nobody cares about waxed cotton versus tweed.



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