Being hard-nosed was a necessary prerequisite of rural life. In a farming community, there was no space for sentimentality. Livestock were reared to earn money, fields were for grazing or growing crops. Idealism did not pay bills and people with fanciful notions of a “good life” did not survive long on the land.
The suburbanisation of our corner of rural England has brought a wave of newcomers, some of whom seem to regard villages as places for their projects and see the opinions of local people as antediluvian and unenlightened. There is little understanding that the countryside is neither a museum nor a platform for the pursuit of individual ideas.
Many of those who arrive depart as quickly, their arrival in the first place an indication of their impermanence. However, while present, some seek to impose their own liberal middle class, suburban view of the world, no matter how unrealistic their ideas may be.
Sometimes there are hints of Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, in the denial of reality by those pursuing their vision:
JUDITH: I do feel, Reg, that any Anti-Imperialist group like ours must reflect such a divergence of interests within its power-base.
REG: Agreed. Francis?
FRANCIS: Yeah. I think Judith’s point of view is very valid, Reg, provided the Movement never forgets that it is the inalienable right of every man–
STAN: Or woman.
FRANCIS: Or woman… to rid himself–
STAN: Or herself.
FRANCIS: Or herself.
FRANCIS: Thank you, brother.
STAN: Or sister.
FRANCIS: Or sister. Where was I?
REG: I think you’d finished.
FRANCIS: Oh. Right.
REG: Furthermore, it is the birthright of every man–
STAN: Or woman.
REG: Why don’t you shut up about women, Stan. You’re putting us off.
STAN: Women have a perfect right to play a part in our movement, Reg.
FRANCIS: Why are you always on about women, Stan?
STAN: I want to be one.
STAN: I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me ‘Loretta’.
LORETTA: It’s my right as a man.
JUDITH: Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?
LORETTA: I want to have babies.
REG: You want to have babies?!
LORETTA: It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.
REG: But… you can’t have babies.
LORETTA: Don’t you oppress me.
REG: I’m not oppressing you, Stan. You haven’t got a womb! Where’s the foetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!
JUDITH: Here! I– I’ve got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can’t actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans’, but that he can have the right to have babies.
FRANCIS: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.
REG: What’s the point?
REG: What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?!
FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.
REG: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.