Ed­i­tor’s com­ment

Lancashire Life - - FRONT PAGE -

I’ll prob­a­bly re­gret writ­ing this be­cause it will pro­voke a gnash­ing of teeth and a wail­ing from the green ink bri­gade. But here goes, any­way.

A for­mer col­league was once sent to another part of the coun­try to interview an el­derly game­keeper. His first ques­tion was: ‘What is the main pur­pose of your job?’

The old chap replied: ‘To pro­tect the game birds by killing ver­min.’

The jour­nal­ist, a prob­ing sort of fel­low, asked: ‘And what do you class as ver­min?’ The game­keeper replied: ‘Any­thing that isn’t a game bird.’

As you will have guessed this was way back when there was a less en­light­ened approach to our wildlife, not just by game­keep­ers but most of the pop­u­la­tion in general.

Around the same time as the interview, I re­call a friend in North York­shire say­ing he hadn’t seen a raptor in years and as­sumed it was be­cause of his close prox­im­ity to the shoot­ing moors. Hap­pily, at­ti­tudes have changed and he now reg­u­larly sees the dis­tinc­tive v-shaped wings of buz­zards cir­cling the skies around his home. I hope that’s be­cause per­se­cu­tion has stopped rather than the hun­gry birds wait­ing for him to drop off the twig.

What­ever the rea­son, we shouldn’t make the mis­take of think­ing that everything in the garden, or the grouse moor, is rosy. There will be one or two es­tate own­ers around the UK who are pre­pared to turn a blind eye to wrong-do­ing by their staff. Also, there will be some es­tate

work­ers who will use il­le­gal meth­ods that would hor­rify their em­ploy­ers.

This happens in all walks of life. You’ll be star­tled to dis­cover it even oc­curs in the world of jour­nal­ism. I re­call a gentle­man called Boris who parted com­pany with The Times for mak­ing things up. No doubt, he’s now mended his ways.

All of this fiz­zled through my beer-ad­dled synapses as I read that we’d had the most successful breed­ing sea­son for red-listed hen har­ri­ers for a decade. There were 34 young birds from nine nests across Lan­cashire, the Lakes, Northum­ber­land and Der­byshire.

A bird back from the brink. So was joy un­con­fined? Was it heck! The news prompted wildlife groups to blame game­keep­ers for hav­ing caused the near demise of hen har­ri­ers in the first place while the shoot­ing lobby said they de­served much of the credit for hav­ing played an im­por­tant part in sav­ing the species.

Both sides seem to be foam­ing at the mouth and a plan to re­move eggs from the moors and raise the chicks else­where has proved so con­tentious it’s going to court. In the melee, the birds al­most seem to have been for­got­ten.

I just hope that when it does go to court, it’s be­fore a judge who is good at knock­ing heads to­gether.

Never let it be said Bor­rell doesn’t cap­ture the zeit­geist. A few is­sues back I com­plained about res­tau­rant staff call­ing cus­tomers guys, even when they are plainly not of the guy gen­der.

This was taken up by the slightly scary Jane Gar­vey, of Wo­man’s Hour, and has be­come a na­tional talk­ing point (well, in my world any­way).

I’ve just spent a few days in the North East and on at least two oc­ca­sions I have been greeted by bar­men with the word: ‘Wod­jafta.’ At first I thought they were Pol­ish but then re­alised this is Ge­ordie for: ‘How may I help you, sir?’

Have a great month, guys

Hen har­rier chicks have made a come back in Lan­cashire – but who is to blame?

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