Having been away a fair bit recently, I decided I would do a bit of catching up on some missed tv, deciding to give the once over to a show called Coppers. Watching it was like reading some of the old Inspector Gadget blog, looking at some of the slice of life on camera.
I thought about the show, when I read the story of the owner of a field who has marked out a path across a field he owns with two rather utilitarian fences either side of. The Daily Mail picked the angle of the story it wanted to take which seemed to be one of bad landowner, blocking the path from use by the public.
I wasn't sure what to think having read the blurb. Obviously I'm a bit hobbity when it comes to the romantic notion of freely wandering the shires. Except when required to report the facts, they have to spell out a different story, than what they told in the blurb.
It seems that the path isn't blocked at all. At the heart of the story is a sense of entitlement. First people tried to block the purchase by the owner, fearing development. Once he got it, the story suggests they asked him to keep the unofficial path and he refused. Erm no. It seems they didn't just want a footpath. They wanted access to the whole field for dog walking. It's here that the problem comes. It seems the owner has an issue not necessarily with the dog walking itself, but that the dog fouling has spiralled out of control. This is a problem because he wants to use the land for animal grazing and the dog fouling can cause problems with that. I've since learned that amongst the parasites and bacteria often present in dog faeces is one thought to be responsible for abortions in cattle.
So what we really seem to have is a benevolence that has been abused. It seems there was an unwritten "fair usage" agreement. Act responsibly and there's access to something with no public right of way. It seems to some that isn't enough. Once again, we see people for whom the boundaries require constant expanding and extra imagined freedoms thrown in. Ones in which they behave how they wish and the consequences to be borne by others.
The story also tells the reason why the face is a triumph of function over form. As the landowner points out, had it been barbed wire, people would have complained about themselves, their children and their dogs getting caught and injured on it. Yes he could have place a simple farm type wood fence on it, but let's be honest, it wouldn't have taken long with the mindset that prevailed, that people would be ignoring that fence and the key problem would probably have continued as for some reason, too many have lost the ability to conduct themselves freely whilst acknowledging that it should be in balance with a sense of personal responsibility. For too many, it's become I want, I should get, with no boundaries and everyone else should mop up the mess I make so I can move on to my next abuse of personal freedom.
That's why the spiral goes downward.