Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Willy Poole

"i am sure that one of the worst fates which can befall England is that her land should become either a plaything or a waste, and that her greatest safeguard lies in the recreation of a yeoman class, rooted in the soil and supported by the soil."

Anyone care to tell me who wrote that, apart from me that is? It appears in a book written by Sir Henry Rider Haggard in c.1899.

Sir Henry was by turns a soldier, an African adventurer, a civil servant and a prominent Norfolk landowner. He is best known for his adventure novels.

I say "is" because his best known novels (King Solomon's Mines and She) are still in print today ( 100 years or more after they were written.

They are ripping yarns. He was also one of the foremost and intelligent writers of his day on matters pertaining to farming and the countryside.

In many ways his thinking was way ahead of his time. He was one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Forestry Commission. One of his dreams was the re-establishment of England's forests.

It was a good dream and it is a good thing that he did not live long enough to see his dream turned into a mono-cultural and wasteful nightmare.

As you can see from the opening of this piece Sir Henry also had deep thoughts about the maintenance of a robust and healthy countryside.

His thoughts are entirely in accord with mine and I am sure that he would feel as wretched as I do to see the English countryside becoming a "plaything and a waste".

But that is what is happening with frightening speed. I can see the time fast approaching when Merrie England will be "Prescottised" into one vast tarmac car park with a few plastic trees and "Ye Olde Hotte Dogge" stands to let people know that they are now in deepest rural England.

ARE you frightened of global warming?

You should be. You are meant to be. Governments need fear as a powerful weapon for social control ( "keep the people frightened". …

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