Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I'm Scared to walk in the Forest anymore - I'm a prisoner in my own home!

Look out for the following article in The Review (Forest of Dean local newspaper) this week.  A response to all the many letters to the press over recent months from those who love the Forest but seem to be scared of the boar.  Many letters came from people claiming to have lived here for many years.  You'll get the idea even if you never saw the letters in question.  We wondered if some of the letters are a joke, so we thought would should agree... in kind....

Times are getting harder and with austerity measures on the way I had decided to forage for free food in our verdant and fantastically biodiverse Forest that we all love.  Herbs have always been a passion to me, and it is about time we all stopped calling them weeds (although some can be smoked) for they may save us all in the future. 

My first outing was for nettles to make some lovely hot soup, but was soon ruined by a ladybird that came whirring down onto my hand from nowhere. Startled enough, this voracious commy-red killer of aphids began to walk up towards my eyes and I had to start running in the hope the breeze I created would blow off the unwelcome pest.  But in my agitated state, adrenaline soon took over every muscle fibre and sinew in my body and I banged my head on a tree. I had to spend the night in the Dilke (I think). 

Hungry, I excused myself the following morn from the bed of the strangely delectable Sister and went bravely forth once again into the jungle.  It wasn’t long before I heard the scary sounds of tweeting swallows, swooping with what seemed like malicious play directed just at me.  I got the hump for sure, for they were very fast fliers and could only worry at the prospect of a child being hurt if one were to fly in the child’s eyes.  I pulled myself together and with the warrior skills gained only from watching video games, I got past them when finally I spotted some juicy looking nettles. 

Can you imagine my disgust when I saw that they were surrounded by bracken!  I had to quickly suck back my drools, for those who may not know these are seriously carcinogenic plants, second only to Taxus baccata (or Yew to none Foresters), and some spores may have fallen onto the nettles, and even swirling about me poisoning my air and by now exposed spit (I was never good at sucking back spit strings, as my younger sister can verify). 

Disgusted, I widened my search and saw a flutter of tasty looking nettles by an erect stand of towering conifers.  But as I approached them I heard a loud and menacing bark from the dark recesses of what turned out to be Tolkeinesque wildwood, with its towering and vaulted trees that reminded me of a past I wanted to seriously forget – as a child I was forced into church by Arkela and I am now mentally scarred.  But instead of having to sing hymns, I was frozen solid at the thought of a huge fallow deer bellowing his trumpet at me, as if Armegeddon’s apocalyptic horses were upon me, all tooled up with huge antlers and ready to charge into battle.  I somehow managed to unfreeze myself and returned home intact but in need of my expensive medication – at a spiralling yearly cost of £40-50,000. 

I have written to the Forestry Commission without response.  It seems to me that if we don’t round up all the animals into enclosures, and fell all the trees and burn the bracken, nobody will want to walk in the Forest for much longer as it’s becoming too dangerous for those with a keen wanderlust to explore the heritage we have on our doorstep, especially dog-owners.

Sometime in the future...."Don't touch! You may get a splinter." This forest is too dangerous for our children.

I’ve also written to the Council and Highways suggesting that once all the trees are gone they could pave the Forest over and thereby creating jobs, especially quarrying.  Paved roadsides would stop the boar from digging them up, and the burning of the trees may literally generate green energy to combat global warming.  This would ultimately make finding my nettles and other delicious wayside weed, umm herbs, much easier. 

It would be like the old pre-Napoleon treeless days of smog-ridden valleys and iron mines.  I’m not an extremist and would be happy for a bit of bare earth to be left exposed and routinely rotivated for the nettles and other herbage to grow in (yes, I know turned-over bare earth offends a few), and I would even be happy that no signs be erected to warn me about the dirt or the danger of being stung by a nettle.  We Foresters know all too well about the dangers here and tourists would just have to accept the risks or go back to their towns.

In my care of these patches I would even graciously donate a few ultra-violet lamps to illuminate those patches of weed so that more people may enjoy the sight of them, especially at night.  Information boards may be erected in due course and a line of coloured posts directing you to the organic “sculpture” (a bit like the 33rd degree Freemason’s pyramid, but useful, attractive and longer lasting). 

In my utopian high of a better Forest for all, I pondered even more the advantages it would bring.  Counting the boar would be easy and we would no longer have to believe the high priests of Bank House anymore as we could all see the truth for ourselves, before we rounded them up into enclosures of course (I mean the boar, not the FC, although maybe the FC would feel safer in there too).  Indeed, the Forestry Commission’s job would be easier and affordable until all the logs to build cabins ran out. 

Maybe some people may not like what I suggest, but it is surely time to stop appeasing these bunny and tree huggers and let the Foresters have their Forest back as it was in the good old days of wayside herbs and Warren James, with all it’s pestilence and poverty to keep us on our toes.  Keep the dream.  Come on, it’s nearly Christmas when we all think Santa has something to do with Jesus, so nothing is impossible.   Don’t let the rantings of the few ruin it for all.  Get educated about our Forest and its rich herbage.  Long live the Forest and all that dwell in her.

"I didn't scare them off, it was you!"  "No it was you!"