Monday, April 25, 2011

Help, help, I'm surrounded by 2,000 NO voters!

We had been invited by the Essex and Suffolk Hunt to join them at Higham, for the Easter point to point meeting, and, whilst it would be fair to say that we are not particularly bothered by the hunting lobby, we aren't the most obvious guests. However, point to point is an important part of country life, so we got into the car and headed south, through Hadleigh, to the racecourse just north of the A12 and the Essex border, on a gloriously sunny morning.

The Suffolk countryside was on display in all of its finery, the bluebells out in the woods, the fields all green and yellow, the trees in leaf, as we meandered across country, before heading down a track through a bluebell wood to what appeared to be a rather scruffy racetrack without stands, where hundreds of people had inexplicably gathered.

We were fairly early, as we were there to see the foxhounds paraded. Gosh, they're not the sharpest pencils in the canine draw, but they're big, friendly and enthusiastic. There was a generous buffet lunch, courtesy of our hosts, before the serious business of the afternoon got underway.

It would be fair to say that Ros and I know little about horses, still less about point to point formlines, but Ros picked out a 7/2 chance in the second of the pony races, which promptly strolled in an easy winner, and earning us a tidy profit. She then picked the winner of the second race at a rather less generous 1/3, so it was time for ice cream and a browse of the stalls.

By this time, two or three thousand had turned up, and money was changing hands amongst the four on-course bookies with a flurry. Unfortunately, from then on, our money was enriching them, rather than us, but a good time was had nonetheless.

We did make one unexpected discovery though. The Countryside Alliance are campaigning for a no vote in the AV referendum, and not because they are against it in itself (although I suspect that a number are), but because they believe that if the Yes campaign win, it will kill off any possibility of a repeal of the Hunting Act. As a result, the course and the spectators were a sea of 'No to AV' posters, stickers and banners.

For the record, I think that they are wrong if they believe that they have much of a chance of persuading even a Conservative administration to act upon their wish. In order to gain power, Conservatives need to win more urban seats, the very seats where the idea of hunting with dogs is unpopular. And as they're discovering, it's much easier to stop changes than it is to make them.

It was time to go, we thought, and we headed back across country to Paradise-sur-Gipping, content in the knowledge that it had been a really good day...

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