Melissa Kite

There is a new and deadly threat to the countryside

Is there nowhere left a country girl can go where she is not under siege?

There is a new and deadly threat to the countryside
[Photo: rmfox]
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Surprise, surprise. The person who had the shield taken out of the street light so it shone back into my bedroom window was precisely the person it was always going to be.

I wish the world would shock me more, but it seldom seems to. When the council told me someone had demanded the full glare of the bright white LED bulb be restored, I nursed a forlorn hope that it might not be the obvious suspect.

Wouldn’t it be exciting, I thought, if someone other than a left-wing vegan interfered in my happiness? But it was not to be.

Lefties love harsh light bulbs, even in rural areas. I think it’s something to do with them not really liking the countryside and trying to make it more like the town.

Urbanisation being their pet project, they are aided and abetted by every fool who now comes to the countryside to do something antisocial in the spare time they have too much of since working from home became the norm.

I was trying to exercise my horse in the sand school the other day when my instructor suddenly shouted: ‘Turn around now and ride back towards me!’

As I turned, I heard a roar behind me. ‘Sit up straight!’ he shouted, for Darcy had begun to leap about as the roar got louder.

I clung on to the reins, and about 20 dirt bikes raced behind the hedge up the byway that runs beside this idyllic farming estate where one minute earlier all had been peace aside from the faint mooing of cows in the fields, and now all the hell of modern stupidity and selfishness was breaking loose.

And of course it was worse for the horse because the bikes were hidden behind the hedge of the farm, though within feet of us, as they used the surface of the public byway as a racing track.

‘I can’t stand it!’ I shouted at the trainer over the roar of the bikes, clinging on to Darcy for dear life as the poor horse trembled with fear. ‘We’ve just got used to racing cycles swarming round us, now motorbikes?’

Obviously, I can never hack out down that sleepy byway again, because I know that if the dirt bikes come when I’m actually riding the thoroughbred on that path, I’m a dead woman.

As for this blasted street light, it’s yet another final straw in the big barrow-load of final straws making me wonder where on earth a country girl can go where she’s not under siege.

I live in a small row of cottages on a village green and in this row also lives a councillor and his wife, who happen to be left-wing vegans. When I first moved here from south London, this lady went bananas when I said I was looking forward to living in the countryside. ‘It’s NOT the countryside! It’s near Woking!’ she shrieked, as I perched on a sofa in her living room during one of those courtesy visits you make when you move in somewhere.

I said something to the tune of: sure, whatever. We live on a 65-acre green surrounded by heathland and farms, but Woking’s 4.6 miles down the road, so have it your way, it’s not the countryside.

Except that it is, which is why there should not be an LED street lamp marooned on a clump of grass on the unmade track outside my house. It destroys the night sky so we can’t see the stars, confuses the wildlife and shines through my bedroom window.

After I applied to have it shielded — well, threatened to throw myself out of the window through lack of sleep — a shield was fitted to one half of the lamp.

But the councillor’s wife then objected so much that the council removed it. I know the full details of her complaint because she published an open letter about it in which she warned of everything bar Armageddon happening because a small translucent piece of plastic was cutting the glare from half the light.

Women will get attacked and murdered. Old people will fall over. She even cited the poor gypsies as possible culprits in the list of lurid crimes she imagined happening because of the slightly reduced wattage.

We’ve had travellers on the green once in the four years I’ve been living here and they did nothing but spend money in the village shops. Get a grip of yourself, I want to say to her. One street lamp cannot possibly light 65 acres of common land to prevent all the murder and pillage in your mind.

But of course, it’s not about that. The street light is symbolic. It stands as a monument to the victory of her people. Like a flag on a battlefield. This countryside has fallen.