To Those Who Cry, "You Just Want to Spoil the Aristocracy's Pleasure"-You Are Right. after Fox-Hunting, We're Coming for Polo, Then Glyndebourne and Maybe the Cresta Run

By Thomas, Mark | New Statesman (1996), September 27, 2004 | Go to article overview

To Those Who Cry, "You Just Want to Spoil the Aristocracy's Pleasure"-You Are Right. after Fox-Hunting, We're Coming for Polo, Then Glyndebourne and Maybe the Cresta Run


Thomas, Mark, New Statesman (1996)


After much reading and thought on the matter, and having examined the merits of all sides of the argument, I am inclined to support the banning of hunting foxes with hounds, primarily because I can think of no other action that could spur the railing hoorays and their trusty retainers to such vein-bursting apoplexy as we witnessed in Parliament Square.

This is not only morally right but hugely entertaining as well. To all of those who cry: "You just want to spoil the aristocracy's pleasure!" you are absolutely right. In fact, once we've banned fox-hunting, we're coming for polo. And once polo is gone we'll ban Glyndebourne. Then point to point, fencing and maybe the Cresta Run.

Fox-hunting has always been the activity of the upper class and their emulators. It is absurd to argue, as they do, that because people are employed in the stables and kennels, fox-hunting is open to the working classes. It is like saying the Ritz hotel is egalitarian because it employs toilet cleaners.

Fox-hunting is a truly upper-class activity and the only way to get the toffs to abandon it for ever would be if thousands of working people from south London council estates turned up on horseback to the Horsham Hunt to join in. If hunting were swamped with horse-riding blokes in tracksuit bottoms, smoking Superkings and shouting: "Come on, let's twat the furry fucker!" the upper classes would flee in disdain.

All their talk of protecting the fabric of the countryside is nothing but pro-hunting PR. If they care about rural issues, where are the demonstrations about rural poverty? Surely, Whitehall should be full of bugle-blowing oiks demanding fair wages for migrant labourers and greater controls on gangmasters. The Duke of Devonshire should be hanging off the railings at Downing Street and screaming: "An injury to one is an injury to all!"--or at least his manservant should be.

The British countryside is awash with second homes, purchased by bankers and brokers eager to ape the gentry, picking up the battle-cry that "townies don't understand the ways of the countryside". In many ways they are right: most city-dwellers see no attraction in killing small animals for pleasure and are content to mate with people outside their immediate family. However, the irony of these second-home-owning arrivistes championing the cause of "the countryside" is that it is their eager purchases which have driven up property prices to the extent that many less well-paid country-dwellers can't afford to live where they were born. …

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