Mean Fields: Jonathan Miller: Crazy like a ministerial fox
Hunting is saved! Hunting is banned! Here in the sticks we are dancing in the meadows with joy and gnashing our teeth all at the same time.
In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both.
This is precisely the talent of Alun Michael, the minister who is going to give parliament the opportunity to ban cruel hunting of wild mammals with dogs while simultaneously permitting necessary hunting of wild animals with dogs.
Never mind the clarity — feel the breadth and depth of new Labour’s latest gift to the yokels.
Michael’s legislation promises the countryside an exciting new bureaucracy — innovative classes of criminal offences; mandatory insurances; official certifications; licences to be displayed; representations to be made — with all the new jobs advertised in due course in the public appointments section of The Guardian. Who wants to be a hunt registrar? Those lacking the capacity for goodthink may marvel at this legislative edifice, despair and conclude that it is the final proof that Michael and his mad officials should not be allowed to operate a whelk stall.
In the post-political space I occupy, all of this is mere theatre. If I could be bothered, I would favour more direct action, such as putting people like Mr Michael into pig pokes and pelting them with rotten fruit.
I recently got a voter registration form and see it is a criminal offence not to return it, although I can see no purpose in voting as none of the parties remotely represents anything I believe in.
Exposing myself to jury duty and junk mail seems another good reason to ignore this impertinence so I file it in the wheelie bin with the census form and television licence renewal demands. But after several threatening letters I confess that I eventually fill it in, reckoning I cannot take on Waverley council at the same time as the BBC.
On the BBC front I am delighted to hear that Matthew Norman, the amusing Guardian hypochondriac, has offered to buy my television licence for me as my jihad against the infidel corporation enters its fifth month. “By hook or by crook, we’re paying that bloody licence fee, if we have to force-feed you the money in freshly minted pound coins,” says Matthew.
So far, sadly, this has been just a hollow boast. Just to be clear: he is very welcome to send me #112 which I will use to buy drinks for anyone showing up at the demo I have organised at Broadcasting House.
As I have had no response from the BBC to my demand that they stop prosecuting welfare mothers and extorting money with menaces from everyone else, at noon on Tuesday I will be at Langham Place with friends and will try to put these demands to Greg Dyke directly.
I have to work on better goodthink within my personal space and for this I require sleep. This has been in short supply recently, due to sore muscles, a consequence of recklessness on the hunting field. Personal fitness has never been a great priority so this late-middle-aged burst of activity has presented its bill in the form of painful spasms. Obviously one would not want to trust such a problem to the national sickness service so I call in Ginnie the horse physio to have a go at my back.
I was expecting to be told to strip naked and be mercilessly pummelled but she makes me lie fully clothed on the floor where she attaches a frightening apparatus to me and there are alternate electrical sensations and then strumming ones.
These soon leave me feeling even worse but I have managed to talk a super-sized carton of ibuprofen out of the chemist in Cranleigh so I am splurging on this, my new drug of choice.
Rob Dash, a local horny-hand, comes by to ask if I know how to extract money from the lottery as the Southern Counties Heavy Horse Association, of which he is an officer (and I am a member), has just ended the year with a deficit of #2,000.
I can’t see that preserving the art of horse-drawn ploughing is any less worthy than, say, preserving the Millennium Dome, and agree to help fill out the forms; but I don’t rate our chances since we have no equality officers.
Also, as we will be rejected in any case, it would be foolish to ask for #2,000 and we should open the bidding at #20m. There is an off chance they may send us the money in error. I will keep you informed.