In the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing

Hedge­hogs, bees, pot-luck sup­pers–and com­mon sense

Country Life Every Week - - Another Country -

IT’S been a quiet au­tumn here in the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing, twinned in our hearts with Lake Wobe­gon, where ‘all the women are strong, the men are good look­ing, and all the chil­dren are above av­er­age’. Maybe it comes from be­ing sur­rounded by wheat fields and sugar beet, but ours is a place where com­mon sense pre­vails.

In the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing, all the dogs are loyal and good-na­tured. They are also reg­is­tered and wear a dog tag to prove it. We pay £10 per dog, but for that our hound gets a chip. The cats all have bells round their necks and, I’m glad to say, the song­birds are back and singing again.

Ev­ery­body who drives around here car­ries their driv­ing li­cence when they’re be­hind the wheel, just like in Lake Wobe­gon—in fact, like ev­ery­where else in the world. It’s an in­stant iden­tity card without all the ex­pense and bu­reau­cracy of iden­tity cards and it saves a lot of time if there’s an ac­ci­dent. We also keep our in­surance papers in the car at all times and the lit­tle pa­per car li­cence is back on the wind­screen, be­cause get­ting rid of it was a big, ex­pen­sive mis­take. Ad­mit­ting mis­takes is the badge of com­mon sense, so we don’t mind do­ing it.

In the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing, all the houses are de­signed for hu­man habi­ta­tion. We brought back the old Parker Mor­ris stan­dards, which de­creed that all rooms had to be a min­i­mum size. The de­vel­op­ers huffed and puffed about that, but no­body is proud of the fact that Bri­tain is build­ing the small­est new houses in Europe. A kitchen ought to be big enough to have a table, a bed­room needs a bedside light and putting peo­ple in rab­bit hutches makes them crazy. We’ve also put a mora­to­rium on David Cameron’s Right to Buy pol­icy. We reckon that was a mis­take, ‘cause we’re pretty short of houses in th­ese parts.

Ac­tu­ally, in the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing, you have to be res­i­dent in the coun­try for five years be­fore you’re al­lowed to own prop­erty. We’re grate­ful to Den­mark for that idea. It’s an­noyed folks who want to get their money out of du­bi­ous coun­tries and see prop­erty in Bri­tain as an in­vest­ment, but, frankly, we don’t give a damn. We have a pretty poor opin­ion of ghost towns and ab­sen­tee own­ers.

In the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing, most chil­dren go to the lo­cal schools, which are pretty good. Home school­ing is closely mon­i­tored and par­ents who want to do it have to pass an exam that is tougher than the 11-plus. The way we look at it, teach­ing is a hard job and should be left to the folks who are ded­i­cated and trained.

I have to ad­mit that there are no longer any bad­gers in the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing, but the cows are free of TB and the hedge­hogs and the bees have made a mirac­u­lous come­back. We got fed up with the su­per­mar­kets screw­ing the dairy farm­ers, so we brought back milk in bot­tles, de­liv­ered to our front door. The milk is from the lo­cal Jer­sey herd and see­ing cows in the fields makes us all happy.

The churches in the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing are no longer derelict since we got rid of VAT on re­pairs. That tax re­ally was a dumb mis­take. We also trans­formed the churches from be­ing bat sanc­tu­ar­ies into real sanc­tu­ar­ies and we spear­headed a move­ment to spon­sor Chris­tian refugee fam­i­lies—one fam­ily for ev­ery five parishes. We got that idea from Canada and wish we’d done it sooner.

The lo­cal surgery has diet and ex­er­cise classes two nights a week be­cause some of us aren’t the size we used to be. The lo­cal li­brary holds free English classes two nights a week and a book club/pot-luck sup­per one evening a month.

The lo­cal GPS were amazed when we did away with park­ing charges at the lo­cal hospi­tal. They agreed with us—pay­ing when you’re sick or visit­ing the sick is no way to finance the NHS. We think that idea’s time had come.

By now, you may be think­ing that the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing is nos­tal­gic and pro­vin­cial, but our hearts beat with hopes and dreams beyond th­ese wheat fields. We’re a long way from Hink­ley Point, but we hope it will never be built by the Chi­nese. Com­mon sense says, if it’s re­ally worth build­ing—and not a big ex­pen­sive mis­take—we should do it our­selves.

Sur­rounded by wheat fields, com­mon sense pre­vails’ ‘The cows are free of TB and the hedge­hogs have come home

Ditto HS2. We love trains in the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing, but we think it’s pig­headed and ig­no­rant to rip up the coun­try­side in or­der to shave 20 min­utes off the jour­ney be­tween Birm­ing­ham and Lon­don. What we want are bet­ter trains, not faster trains. As for that third run­way at Heathrow, we’re on the side of the folks who live, work and pay taxes in Lon­don. We think they should be able to sleep and breathe. Sleep­ing and breath­ing shouldn’t be wish­ful think­ing.

Politi­cians tell us that folks in Wish­ful Think­ing live in a dream world. They mut­ter about green papers and say that much de­pends on the Chi­nese, mar­ket forces, the bat lobby and the banks. We say that it’s wish­ing that al­lows us to hope and hope has wings. Or some­thing like that. I do know this: we who dwell in the Land of Wish­ful Think­ing have an un­stop­pable will to make real that which oth­ers only dream of. We’re here to stay.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.