We may poke gentle fun at “incomers” about cockerels and cowpats, but perhaps we should be more sensitive to avoid unnecessary friction
There was an item in The Times about a group of British second homeowners in the French Alps who complained to the mayor about the noise of cow bells. They wrote that “the noise on the slopes and in front of our chalets is unbearable”. The town’s mayor was bemused, saying he could have understood if full-time residents had raised the issue, adding: “There are worse things than hearing the bells of the cows.”
Four hundred locals turned up to protest at a public meeting and support for them flooded in from around the world — an online petition quickly racked up more than 116,000 signatures. One supporter wrote: “If the townspeople do not want to hear the cows they [should] stay at home or rent a desert island (they can complain about the waves that make noise especially at high tide).”
The complaint was duly thrown out but, in a conciliatory move, the council agreed to move a cattle trough further away from the houses and to warn potential homeowners about the cow bells. You do wonder why those Brits bought chalets looking on to Alpine pastures if they hadn’t appreciated what the grass was being used for.
This got me thinking; what should local parish councils in Britain warn incomers about? We all know the complaints there have been about thoughtless cockerels crowing at dawn, or church bells that insist on disturbing the Sunday morning lie-in of hapless commuters. What about all those disgusting cowpats on public footpaths, or the sound of gunfire from the local woods in the autumn?
And yet… laugh as we may, there may be occasions when we should tread lightly on the sensitivities of others who do not share our ways. Surely it is wise to try not to cause offence if it might be avoided?
Over the years, I have witnessed examples of unnecessary friction. A shoot parking its vehicles across a public right of way; a peg being placed too near an occupied home; overly loud syndicate members dominating a local pub at lunchtime; beaters cracking flags next to a paddock of horses; birds being dropped in gardens and retrieved without permission. All these things caused offence, yet none was necessary to enable a good day’s shooting.
As the pheasant shooting season gets under way, perhaps we should all make sure that we brush up our PR. Some people will always be opposed to shooting, no matter what. But many others will be prepared to base their opinions on what they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.
We shouldn’t be ashamed of shooting. We have nothing to hide. Yet good manners cost nothing and we have enough enemies as it is — we don’t need to manufacture any more.
“People will base their opinions on what they see with their own eyes and hear with their ears”
Taken on Trust
The National Trust is proposing to publish the date and place of trail-hunting meets on its land. This is seen by many hunt followers as a sop to the antis, who are pressing for an outright ban at the Trust’s forthcoming AGM. I have a counter proposal: why doesn’t the Trust publish the planned weekly movements of its senior executives? Then any of the Trust’s five million members will know where to find these individuals if they wish to monitor their performance or make personal representations. Sauce for the goose…