February is coming and the daffodils are starting to poke their heads up. There were still snowdrops in Herefordshire, but things are beginning to angle towards the memory of spring. We need it as well. Winter is helpful, in that it has made us all nest – although it seems everybody is still getting Covid left right and centre somehow. Ugh. Another one I knew just died.

It seems so long ago that this all started. Over a year now. Although this time last year we were mostly oblivious to it over here, even if I was wearing a mask every day. I was part of a team tearing down the set for Wolf of Wall Street, and today’s the anniversary of a little goblin called Josh trying to nick my respirator – he even wrote his name on it. Looking back, perhaps Josh knew how useful that mask was going to be in the first few weeks of the pandemic when nobody had PPE. PPE…

This bastard year has given us so many new words, and I hate all of them. “Social Distancing” is the one I hate the most. I wonder what will come when the wedge is finally removed. Whether we will all ping together again or whether there will be a generation of slightly frayed slightly suspicious people crossing the road to avoid each other and glaring at you for existing long after this madness has ceded to whatever we decide to call normal… Will January 2022 feel as remote from today as January 2020 does? I kind of hope so.

We still managed a walk in Richmond Park. A little under 1000 hectares, it’s an amazing stretch of protected urban parkland – formalised by Charles I before he lost his head, for hunting. They don’t chase them with dogs anymore (barring Fenton – Jesus Christ!) but they still have to control the population. There are signs up about it on the gates. They’ll be closing the park at night next month for a “deer cull”. At night?! How are they killing them? Is it some sort of sanctioned nocturnal hunt with rifles? Does Boris Johnson cover himself in woad and go in personally with a club? Why at night? To prevent photography? But how do they shoot straight in the dark? I guess there’s money in it. Maybe they’ve got all the infra red kit and silencers… Most likely, to be honest. Three or four highly skilled park rangers with enough kit to rival the garage contents of some of those oafs who stormed the capitol. Red dots and heat vision and a button you can push to make the world slow down for a few seconds.

There’s not much about it online apart from the numbers. About 180 males are gonna get nobbled in February. The meat will make pots of money for luxury game vendors. “Have a lovely London deer pie, Mrs Venables. Only £80.” It’s an economy, I guess. And the deer are a captive herd with no predators but us. There are already signs up saying “please don’t take the chestnuts – the deer need food”. They want fat deer for Mrs Venables. But also if there are too many deer they’ll start starving. Plus disease risk. The risk of disease in captive populations often gives rise to somebody calling for a cull…

Well, it’s a glorious park most of the time even if we were there on the eve of a battleground. We saw no deer, which is rare. Likely they were hiding, and can you blame them?

Spot the Al. Do not cull the Al. It is a peaceful animal.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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