A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

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Recently, we heard in the news, about two neighbours fighting over a bit of lawn with a bush on it. And, at a cost of God knows how much, the case has ended up in the High Court in London. A court case. Over a shrub. It beggars belief.
Except it doesn’t any more. A friend told me yesterday about the dispute she’s been having. “The deeds to my house say people can drive cattle down the lane past my house but now my neighbour’s son has passed his driving test and he’s driving his car down there. So I’ve rebuilt the boundary wall, which means his car won’t fit any more. Ha ha ha.”
Then we have Griff Rhys Jones, who, a few Wednesdays ago, urged the nation’s canoeists — all four of them, I should imagine — to “disturb as many anglers as possible”. He claims that many stretches of river have been bought by private fishing clubs and are now therefore out of bounds to exponents of the eskimo roll.
I’m not immune to this either. All week, my partner has been at a public inquiry, started because some militant dog walkers in the Isle of Man wish to ramble through my kitchen and take YouTube footage of me on the lavatory. Or something like that.
And then there’s my friend, who moved house last year because the builder doing up the house next door took down a tree, or planted one. I can’t remember which, but I remember it being a hell of big deal. And, worse, it makes me wonder: are we perhaps starting to run out of space?
When you look at the figures, it’s hard to see why everyone is at one another’s throat. At present, only around 19% of the United Kingdom’s 95,000 square miles is built up, which doesn’t sound so bad. Certainly, if you look at the country on Google Earth, it appears to be a patchwork of nothing but fields with a smallish grey bit near the Thames estuary.
But plainly there is a problem. When you have Griff Rhys Jones and Jeremy Paxman actively wrestling with each other on the banks of the Kennet and Avon canal, and neighbours fighting in the High Court over a bloody bush, it’s very obvious the country is not just full. It’s actually starting to burst at the seams.
Plainly, the planning regulations are to blame. You aren’t allowed to build anything on Farmer Giles’s cabbages unless you join the freemasons. And since most people don’t wish to have their tongues pulled out for blabbing about the stupid handshake, developers are being forced to erect new dwellings in urban back yards. Which invariably causes even more friction with the neighbours whose view is about to be ruined.
So what’s to be done? Well, obviously, it would be stupid to relax the green-belt rules, partly because this would ruin the whole point of Britain and partly because we need all the space we can get for Ed Miliband’s plans to carpet-bomb every hillside in the land with his stupid and useless bird-mincing windmills.
And anyway, as the global population grows and farmland is built on, there will obviously come a time when we all have somewhere to live. But bugger all to eat.
The obvious solution is to spread out a bit. At present, the southeast of England has a greater population density than Puerto Rico. And it’s getting worse. Recent figures suggest that even a town such as Guildford in Surrey will need an extra 18,000 houses by 2050 to help to accommodate the national increase of 350,000 people a year.
The trouble is: where do we spread out to? Scotland is the obvious answer, but it can’t be a very nice place to live, or there wouldn’t be so many Scottish people living in London. Lincolnshire is a better bet in some ways but, from what I understand, it’s being eaten at an alarming rate by the North Sea, and Wales doesn’t really work either because it’s far too mountainous.
My gut reaction then, is that we must at least consider the possibility of conquering France. There are good reasons for this. First of all, we can be assured the French will not put up much of a fight — they never do — so casualties would be relatively small. And second, the simple fact is, they don’t need all that space. And we do. Certainly, I can’t see any reason why they don’t hand over Lesser Britain, or Brittany, as they insist on calling it.
I realise, of course, the United Nations would have something to say on the matter and that Britain might be ostracised internationally for a while, but I feel this could well be a price worth paying if it were to prevent Griff and Chris Tarrant from having an unedifying punch-up at the Cotswold Water Park.
Of course, I’m sure a lot of you reading this will be harbouring dark and dangerous thoughts about perhaps limiting the number of people who want to live in Britain. I’m thinking of the ... I-word.
We were told a few years ago by the Labour government that Britain needed many millions of Somalians and Estonians to fuel Mr Brown’s booming economy. But now what? The economy’s gone tits-up and I’m sure there are many people quietly harbouring a notion that perhaps Mr Mbutu and Mr Borat might like to go back home again.
I do not have these thoughts however. I’d far rather have Mr Mbutu round for tea than, say, John Prescott. But I can quite understand why some people do. And that worries me.
Because how long will it be before Griff Rhys Jones stops attacking Ian Botham and starts throwing bricks through the window of his local Indian restaurant? How long before the stockbrokers of Guildford decide they don’t want any more homes and that Mr Ng’s Chinese takeaway must be burnt to the ground? In short, how long before this pressure on space and the need to breathe out once in a while leads to all sorts of problems which are very ugly indeed?
Maybe, then, the government should consider asking Glaxo Smith Kline to perhaps slow down the development of its vaccine for swine flu. Just a thought.



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