A couple more snaps from my canalside ramble the other day.
About a mile out from Harborough I came across this, on the towpath –
and then, a few hundred yards further along, this –
`Such a rumpus everywhere!’ continued the Otter. `All the world seems out on the river to-day. I came up this backwater to try and get a moment’s peace, and then stumble upon you fellows!
There was a rustle behind them, proceeding from a hedge wherein last year’s leaves still clung thick, and a stripy head, with high shoulders behind it, peered forth on them.
`Come on, old Badger!’ shouted the Rat.
The Badger trotted forward a pace or two; then grunted, `H’m! Company,’ and turned his back and disappeared from view.
`That’s just the sort of fellow he is!’ observed the disappointed Rat. `Simply hates Society! Now we shan’t see any more of him to-day” *
Badgers have stopped digging up human bones in a graveyard – after a mystery phone caller told the vicar the problem had been solved by the “Big Society”.
As the Leicester Mercury reported in October, the badgers were believed to be responsible for disturbing at least four graves at St Remigius’ Church in Long Clawson, near Melton.
The badgers had dug up and taken skulls, leg and arm bones, which were found in a ditch on the edge of the churchyard. One child even took a human leg bone home, thinking it was a stick.
However, environmental advisory group Natural England blocked a bid to solve the problem which involved putting up a gate to stop the animals returning to their sett in the graveyard. Since then, village vicar the Rev Simon Shouler has received a mysterious call to say the problem had been “solved by the Big Society”.
There has been no sign of the badgers since.
Mr Shouler said: “I got a call late one night from someone saying we wouldn’t have any further problems from the badgers. He said the problem had been solved by the ‘Big Society’.
“Since I received the call there has been no sign of any badgers. It’s probable that the law has been broken, but someone has decided enough is enough.”**
“ I see you don’t understand, and I must explain it to you. Well, very long ago, on the spot where the Wild Wood waves now, before ever it had planted itself and grown up to what it now is, there was a city — a city of people, you know. Here, where we are standing, they lived, and walked, and talked, and slept, and carried on their business. Here they stabled their horses and feasted, from here they rode out to fight or drove out to trade. They were a powerful people, and rich, and great builders. They built to last, for they thought their city would last for ever.’
`But what has become of them all?’ asked the Mole.
`Who can tell?’ said the Badger. ‘People come — they stay for a while, they flourish, they build — and they go. It is their way. But we remain. There were badgers here, I’ve been told, long before that same city ever came to be. And now there are badgers here again. We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be.’
`Well, and when they went at last, those people?’ said the Mole.
`When they went,’ continued the Badger, `the strong winds and persistent rains took the matter in hand, patiently, ceaselessly, year after year. Perhaps we badgers too, in our small way, helped a little — who knows? It was all down, down, down, gradually — ruin and levelling and disappearance. Then it was all up, up, up, gradually, as seeds grew to saplings, and saplings to forest trees, and bramble and fern came creeping in to help. Leaf-mould rose and obliterated, streams in their winter freshets brought sand and soil to clog and to cover, and in course of time our home was ready for us again, and we moved in.”***
* Wind in the Willows, Chapter 1
** Leicester Mercury, January 2011
*** Wind in the Willows, Chapter 4