Don’t look now, but the fields of the British Isles are up to something.
It seems that the UK has gained two million people in the past 10 years (holy population explosion, Batman!) and lacks sufficient places to put them. Therefore, the Planning Minister has suggested that flats and houses be built on “low quality, environmentally uninteresting fields.”
To find out how this is being received on the ground, I conducted a boring-field study in the UK and Ireland. I offered to give the fields pseudonyms in case the NSA reads my blog, but to a field, they told me that they’re proud of their historic names and urged me to use them.
murmurs of dissentI started my survey in Buckinghamshire with an unexciting field called Calves Plat. “What about boring people?” he asked me. “I mean, have you seen the current Cabinet? John Major was spectacularly boring, and nobody built on him. Ted Heath — did he ever set any pulses racing? And a politician calls us boring!”
“We’re not taking this lying down,” added Stockings, another dull field in Bucks. “Well, I mean, of course we’re lying down: we’re fields. But we’re not going to let ourselves be built on willy-nilly.
“We’ve formed a pressure group,” she added. “We call it ‘Fields United Committee On Fighting Fabrications,’ or FUC OFF for short. That was Crap Angry’s idea. He’s a field in Scotland. Well, you know what they’re like up there. Still covered with woad, a lot of those Scottish fields.”
hints of a conspiracyNear Lampeter, I spoke to Welsh spokesfield Waun O Flaen Ty. “We have a cunning plan,” he confided. “First off, we’re going to make the case that ‘boring’ is in the eye of the beholder.
“Take me. In English, my name means ‘wet field in front of the house.’ Well, that’s interesting right there, isn’t it? What was in the mind of the person who said, ‘Right, here’s a bit of bog, I’ll just bung a house behind it. I’m sure my Bronwen would love to live adjacent to a wet field.’ It gets your mind going, does that. Boring, my aunt Myfanwy!”
the plot thickens
In Somerset, a field named Twindix built on that argument. “So a field is boring: that’s no excuse for building on it. You couldn’t discriminate against me if I were gay, could you? (And it’s too bad that I’m not, with a name like ‘Twindix.’) Well, then, you can’t build on me just because I’m flat, infertile, and lacking in character. It’s a landscape rights issue.”“And a heritage issue,” declared Gortahork, a humdrum field in Ireland. “Haven’t we fields been here for centuries now, minding our own business? I know I’ve been after growing oats since long before the Romans came, saw, conquered, and buggered off back to Italy. You can’t just pave over a history like that, no you can’t now.”
the human angle
“We will also make the case that people have been interfering with us for centuries,” said a field in Nottinghamshire. “You’ll have forgotten, you short-lived humans, but on June 16, 1487, a terrible battle was fought on me between Lambert Simnel’s supporters and the forces of the King.
“They hacked at each other with swords, spears, and axes, and left me hedgerow-to-hedgerow in gore. That’s how I got my name, ‘the Red Gutter.’ It’s too much to ask that, after absorbing all that blood, I should now be forced to cover myself with a housing estate.”
the not-so-phantom menace
A quartet of Scottish fields – Spittle Doup, Prior Inch, Moor o’Scare, and Gruggle o’ the Wood – is investigating the possibility of industrial action.
“Aye, we’re having a wee chat with some of the ‘interesting’ fields,” Gruggle told me. “They see the point of solidarity. Humans are aye chopping and changing, and today’s bonnie field is tomorrow’s clapped-out kilt.
“We’ve already secured our picket lines: march dykes, hedgerows, dry stone walls, they’re all behind us. By which I mean, of course, around us. And not letting anyone through.”
what would a british field strike look like?
“We’ll halt production,” threatened Gin Cock Hops, a monotonous field in Yalding, Kent. “Fields under plough will stop growing crops. Fields used for pasture will kick the animals off. Picturesque fields will refuse to have their photos taken, and fields with public footpaths won’t let people walk on them.”Do fields really have that kind of power? “You’ll find out if you try to build on us,” said two of Gin Cock Hops’ neighbors, “or our names aren’t Mad Pit and Rebellion Meadow. Which they are. And there’s a field up in Scotland called Hell. Trust us: you don’t want to mess with her.”
So be afraid, people of the British Isles. Be very afraid. You don’t want to have to say, like George Harrison in A Hard Day’s Night: “Sorry we hurt your field, mister.”
Honey Pot Meadow in Bucks was also interviewed for this blog post, but all she had to say was, “I’m covered in bees!”