Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Town and country

I am nowhere near the first and no doubt I won’t be the last to remark on the lack of understanding frequently exhibited betwixt town and country. Unlike some, I have never considered the country to be inhabited by barely literate, fundamentalist Christians (the North) or peasants doused in a touch of Archer-esque charm (the South). Nor, curiously, do I believe that Britain’s towns and cities are solely peopled by modern-day Fagins and gun-toting or knife-wielding yobs. Having spent almost a decade and a half living and working in cities before escaping back to this glorious realm, I think I am qualified to make a judgment.

It’s a shame the people that govern us don’t appear to have had adequate experience of the countryside, though. A town Government, voted into power largely by town people, will understandably play to its audience. That’s probably why Gordon Brown is reportedly planning to punish everyone who drives a 4x4 in tomorrow’s Budget. Heaven forbid that he could make them economically less viable for those who don’t actually need them, but curiously, seem best able to afford them.

I have long considered 4x4s to be wasted if they don’t have a tow bar, don’t belong to farmers or to those who live in remote places accessed by single-track roads. But why should those who do live in the wilds or who actually need a powerful tow-vehicle be chastised because of those who run them as ‘gas-guzzling’ status symbols? I am not a city-based ‘yummy mummy’, so perhaps I misunderstand the subtle nuances of needing a 4x4 for the school run. Personally, I can’t see what is wrong with an ordinary car, or even the school bus.

Mr Brown would have us believe that he’s acting against 4x4s as part of the Government’s current obsession with green measures to combat global warming. I wonder if the equivalent of 4x4 drivers were blamed for making it warm enough to grow grapes in Roman Britain...

The Chancellor has been dubbed ‘Stalinist’ in reports today. I wonder if he prefers that to being considered a pursed-lipped puritanical killjoy?


The Grocer said...

Whilst you are entirely correct that the press and many others play up to the stereotypical images of Town & Country and also that the majority of towns and cities are not as bad as painted your description of modern day Fagins and gun toting, knife wielding yobs does aptly describe at least half the population of Newbiggin by the Sea :)

Anonymous said...

No time for a proper chat today, as have just returned from a long 'Mother's Day' weekend in said countryside. Will have a catch-up on posts and respond.

However much of the stereotyping is really down to advertisers who have a vested interest in playing up the 'dangers' of city living [to sell security, insurance etc.] and play up how wonderful the country is, to get people to visit there [thus selling cars, holidays, tourism].

They know that by definition more people live in towns than the countryside, and it is handy to pigeonhole the types of people of living there, because it isn't cost effective to market trendy designer gear to people in rural post codes even though some is bought there.

Advertising is all about getting to the majority - after that it is a law of diminishing returns.

andy said...

I'm with you all the way on this one M&M. But I do feel for the Yummy Mummies having to pack all the kids in the 4X4 for the 800 metre drive to school - it does take it out of one you know!

Gill said...

What makes my BLOOD BOIL is people in 4x4s who don't like to get their cars dirty and when you meet them in a narrow lane they try and force you off into the verge.

You've got four wheel drive you bastards, drive on the fucking grass yourself!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I love your comment about grapes and 4x4s in Roman times. Very droll! I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the country and the last thirty in the city. I hate the notion that city dwellers don't understand country issues. I am totally against fox hunting in spite of having the country in my blood and my parents were also totally against this barbaric pastime.

Mopsa said...

Without the 4X4 the piglets would still be in South Hams, the hugely pregnant ewes would go unfed and the dogs would never be able to sit up straight on their jaunts to friends. Bah humbug GB. M&M for chancellor.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Ta Mopsa!

YP, I respect your views. I hope you will respect mine: I stopped hunting for many years after seeing the kill at close quarters. I do not have a bloodlust but I can be bloody-minded: I went back because it was going to be banned, and because the mare and I enjoy galloping over other people’s fields.

I was angry at the ‘elitist’ tag: it costs £20 to hunt where I live and children go for free. Compare that to the price of a Premiership football match.

It is also important economically: in the winter my sister has three jobs. One is exercising hunters, another is in a racing/point to point yard. P2P is intimately connected with the hunt.

My ethics are not logical (see my post ‘roadkill’). I know a farmer’s son who abhors hunting but shoots deer because he sees them as a pest. Similarly, I have ‘townie’ friends who don’t care either way.

I hope we can agree to disagree. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now.

Karen said...

I hate 4x4 for the same reason as my mum - because they hog the road. I hate this especially as I am a nervous driver.

I disagree with blood sports because I think it is cruel. However I understand that Mr Fox et al are a nuisance to farmers. However there has to be a balance between our beautiful indiginous wildlife and animals and crops that are for food.

I don't know if anyone saw "Wild Thing I Love You", a programme on C4 where Bill Bailey tackled an anmal problem each week - such as a road being expanded and adders lived in the verges which would die when the trucks came in. They had to find out what they were eating, find a habitat where there were no adders already but had the food they ate, catch them all and then relocate them. Very interesting indeed.

I am a country girl at heart, having lived in a small Cumbrian village until I went to uni age 19. At present I live in the city. I miss the country. However there is one advantage to living in the city is that I can walk pretty much everywhere I need to go to which I couldn't do if I lived in the country. But it's difficult if I want to go for a "proper" walk as I don't have a car and there aren't many scenic walks with lakes and mountains in Carlisle.

Eurodog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eurodog said...

How do you climb into one of those huge Chelsea tractors if you are small and petit? Do you carry a step ladder with you? How do you reach the pedals? Is it de rigeur to wear designer clothes to take your children to school if you drive one of those offensive vehicles? It is in Brussels I can tell you.

Arthur Clewley said...

difficult to distinguish in making tax rules between working vehicles and the chelsea tractor brigade M&M. Everyone who drives those things seems to be able to justify it as essential. Alot of folks in my town have 4x4s and will tell you 'it's because I live in the country' even though they are just used to drive up or down the A1, wending their way to scotch Corner every morning in a convoy of vehicles the squaddies in Afganistan would give anything to be able to to go to their work in. And don't get me started on the 'enthusiasts' who use these things to bring the joys of the suburban school run to the green lanes of the Dales. At least if you're paying the higher tax on a vehicle used for business you get some back as tax relief I suppose, but I don't know how it could be made not to penalise at all the few essential users

Anonymous said...

eminem. The 4*4 issue is important, as it is a microcosm of a wider debate about the environment. The silly woman who was on the news a few days ago saying she had to have this 4*4 because of the kids had a point, but the fact is she could have had a cheap and cheerful Citroen Xsara, but couldn't make do with anything less than a Mercedes 4*4...

But such a 4*4 with low profile tyres just defeats the object. I am a bit of an environmental car-free type myself. But then I live in the middle of town and don't have any kids, so that is easy for me.

The trap I can easily fall into is just thinking horrible thoughts about the yummy-mummies with posh cars, without thinking about how bad their cars really are. After all, huge Volvo estate cars also consume a lot of petrol, and some people-movers [Chrysler Voyager carrying 7 ginormous Americans] are bigger than Jeeps.

A lot of people opposing hunting weren't really exercised by animal rights [many were meat eaters] but were pushed into such illogicality by some of the more extreme wealthy braying types who make a minority of hunts.

So I hate to say it, but we are back to 'congestion charging' in the cities, with big parking charges for gas-guzzlers [defined by the CO2 emissions used to work out their company car tax rate] and road pricing, but only for cars going into cities at peak times.

People may diss Ken Livingstone, but in an odd way his policies are the 'least-worst' accommodation between town and country, and he is brave enough to stand up to townies who insist that it is their birth right to drive 'country' cars.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Labour got in on 'town' votes and the 'Tories' traditionally get the 'country' votes, and 'never the twain..'. But in Wales, by dint of being a much smaller country, the inter-dependence between the two is much better appreciated.

Although the Tories traditionally relied on farmers, and Labour on the miners, the closure of the pits has changed things. Plaid Cymru [Welsh nationalists] get votes from both town and country by harvesting votes from farmers pi$$ed off that Westminster doesn't help them, and stealing Tory clothes by pushing for more inward investment.

It is a shame that in England the two don't understand each other as well - keeping the fabric of the countryside, and the environment together depends on it. If only the Wife in the North could understand that..

mutterings and meanderings said...

Welcome back anon!

Anonymous said...

eminem - I would say 'it's good to be back', but I am a little 'hiraethus' [homesick] for the old country for a number of reasons, principally revolving around my advancing years [having recently turned 40]. Yikes !

* Baby horses - no, not foals, but very short ponies, but not Shetlands. I am afraid I don't know the breed. So astonishingly cute I almost tried to smuggle one onto the train.

* Cute dogs on the beach at Llansteffan. Painful reminder than in the city, dogs don't really have the beach and byways to stretch the old paws properly.

* Realising that the major benefits of city life i.e. 24 hour drinking, nightclubs, sexually available students etc. aren't really features of the life of middle-aged has-been.

* Wales beating England at rugby !
Sorry to bring it up, and realise that Rugby 'Union' scarcely qualifies as a sport up there, but hey, we were spared the 'wooden spoon'.

* Watching 'S4C' and realising the telly in Wales is superior. I mean, come on, where in England do you get kids TV like 'campyrfan' which is pronounced 'Camper Van' and shows kids doing properly dangerous things like building a raft to fetch water, then building a catapult to fire said water at one of the kids in the team ? Who is 'ginger' ? See, none of that PC and Health and Safety nonsense there.


* Realising that the delightful town of Aberaeron is celebrating its bicentenary this year. Perhaps they got bored with Parliament TV reporting all that dull 'Abolition' stuff and decided to build a town instead - on the off chance that a kids telly programme would need a place for the VW Camper to visit in a couple of centuries time...

mutterings and meanderings said...

Anon, don't they have the Internet in Wales?

Were the ponies Welsh section As? (There are Welsh As, Bs, Cs and Ds)

Anonymous said...

M&M - could well be, but they seem to be a little 'chunkier' than pony in the picture [well they are young] and are the colour of white chocolate.

Will investigate further..- as for the internet, not something my parents possess, and although there were some wi-fi places, I am too lazy to cart my laptop out there.

Gill said...

£400! A measly £400 a year tax! That's nothing to the kind of people who drive those things to no good purpose.

Yet again people who live in the countryside are penalised.

And my mum told me you can buy spray on mud to make it look like you take your car out of the city now!!

Gill said...

YOU CAN!! www.sprayonmud.com

Anonymous said...

gill - all I can say is 'there's one born every minute', Crikey, how sad are people !