THIS time of year, with parliaments in recess, examination results delivered, and barbecues standing unlit as rain pelts down is often called ‘the silly season’ by media and media pundits.
What they mean is that, in the absence of anything of importance happening, the press – notably the UK’s dementedly right-wing tabloid press – print any old rubbish and try to make a story out of it.
This year’s Welsh example is the tale of Geronimo the alpaca, so admirably skewered by Matthew Paul in these pages last week.
Badger takes exception to the suggestion that a Holocaust of the Badgers is necessarily the solution to Bovine TB.
Still, he is prepared to offer names and addresses of a few weasels he wouldn’t mind seeing bumped off.
Having looked at what the UK tabloids print year-round, you won’t be surprised to discover that Badger finds it hard to distinguish between the seasonal silliness and the idiocy printed every day.
Badger prefers to look for his silliness closer to home.
It’s not as if there’s a shortage of stupid, daft, bonkers, or plain-old crackers folk in Pembrokeshire who do stupid, daft, bonkers, or plain-old crackers things.
So, readers, you’d imagine that – this being the season to be silly – Badger has much to find that both amuses and bemuses him.
And you’d be right.
As Badger wrote last week, everyday life provides all the comedy and drama that an individual needs to get by.
But there are some things we can’t be silly about.
Badger likes farms. He and his wider family wouldn’t spend so much time lingering around them if that wasn’t the case.
He often wonders what motivates farmers to get up and goodness knows what o’clock and – during midsummer – go to bed at a time when Badger starts looking for a tasty shrew or rabbit to chow down upon.
According to the more deranged eco-nutters out there, farmers work all hours and year-round to kill polar bears through cow farts and destroying the biosphere by growing and rearing some of the most carbon-friendly food in the world.
According to the Gospel of St. George Monbiot of Grauniad, what we all need to do is wear organic recycled cardboard, reclaimed brown paper bags on our feet, and live in sustainably sourced mud and wattle huts in the middle of a vast national forest covering the whole of Wales.
There we would be able to feed on moss, ethically produced nourishing lichen, and foraged fungi and learn from nature.
Who knows, readers, eat enough of the more colourful foraged fungi, and you might start seeing those well-dressed foxes, rabbits, and foxes that populate the stories of Beatrix Potter in more-or-less peaceful coexistence. Maybe they’ll even start talking to you in RP English, the way nature intended.
As for the educational experience of living in the wild as nature didn’t intend, our old friends cholera and amoebic dysentery offer unrivalled opportunities to rediscover the benefits of the earth o closet and the delights of having a plentiful supply of dock leaves close to hand.
For light, we can all have candles that smell like Gwyneth Paltrow’s muff.
For fuel, we can burn the diseased dung of BTB infected cattle.
Those of us not dying of malnutrition will be able to work from home on superfast broadband.
Those able could cycle wherever they want, safe in the knowledge they’re doing their bit to save the planet.
And the good thing about the whole edifying process is that we will be able to trade all the carbon we save through eliminating Welsh agriculture by selling the credits generated to factories pumping out toxins into the atmosphere, rivers, oceans, and soil elsewhere in the world.
Yes, readers, Wales’s drive to carbon net-zero will be sponsored by those poisoning the planet.
However, those of you warmed by your own middle-class smuggery might reflect on just how much the hedge funds supporting the trade in carbon credits to polluting enterprises give a toss about more than making money.
You can’t get greener than the wealth accruing to the already rich, whose concern about nature is measured through their personal financial gain.
Of course, Badger is exaggerating for effect. So those of you of an eco-warrior persuasion can climb down off your high horses now.
Badger inflates the hot air balloon of your outrage to make a serious point.
Climate change is here. It already exists, and its effects are increasing and increasingly evident. However, of all the arse-backwards way of tackling it, you couldn’t do much worse than the Welsh Government’s cut and paste approach to tackling it.
We have a Welsh Government to govern Wales and provide bespoke Welsh solutions in areas where it exercises power. Instead, it’s hell-bent on taking the worst of DEFRA policy in England and gilding it in Wales. It picks up regulations that have failed elsewhere and plugs them into the rural economy.
Badger does not doubt the sincerity of the Welsh ministers involved. Their problem is that so divorced have their lives been from rural reality, they – and their advisers – are clueless chumps when balancing their political decisions with an understanding of their consequences.
What bugs farmers, what really worries them, isn’t the obscure details of trade deals. It’s having to deal daily with a government that makes lazy half-baked decisions about issues like Bovine TB and thinks the terms’ public goods’ and ‘farming’ are mutually incompatible without resorting to outright extortion and bullying of those engaged in the latter.
The word ‘incentive’ implies ‘carrot’. In Welsh Government hands, at least for farmers, it means ‘stick’.
Welsh Government agricultural policy is driven by an unelected (unelectable) ‘spadocracy’ of advisers and consultants who have ministers’ ears and a magic circle of failed Labour candidates and the campaign groups they are attached to.
The result is lousy policy concocted in an echo chamber that confirms and reinforces prejudices.
If the Welsh Government is really interested in improving Wales’s contribution to the fight against climate change, it would surely get more support for those efforts if it bothered listening to farmers instead of lecturing them from positions of Olympian ignorance.
And by ‘listen’, Badger means more than hearing – he means active engagement.
It is the silly season. Anything could happen.
Badger will now get a shotgun, wait for those flying pigs, and shoot for bacon.
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