Saturday, 26 February 2011

Signs Of Aggression: Danger Of Death In The Countryside

Spring is just around the corner. The nights are longer, the mornings are lighter earlier. The bulbs are sprouting. The noise of the birds dawn chorus is deafening. The first peewits (lapwings) have started to come in. They are conglomerating and circling over the fields, performing their aerobatic dives. The air seems altogether lighter, and though it is still cold at night, and though there will be a sting in the tail of winter yet, there is hope for warm days.

Driving through the countryside, there have been noticeable changes. Mainly in the proliferation of aggressive new warning signs. All the electricity pylons used to have signs saying something like: "DANGER High Voltage". Now there is a picture of a man being struck by a thunderbolt and the words: 'Danger of death'.

The people who live at the next road end have also upgraded their warning signs. Gone is: 'Beware Of The Dog'. In its place is: 'Our Dogs Bite. Enter At Your Own Risk'. Another neighbour has red letters on a white background saying: 'No Scrap Dealers Beyond This Point. Thank you'. And if you are a dog, it is even worse, for a large chunk of the summer months the gates onto the moor have signs confining dogs to leads or banning them altogether.

In another tree there is a sign which says: 'Warning You Are Being Watched'.

The Campaign To Protect Rural England try hard to stop cluttering up the countryside. But they are on a loser. That is because with rapidly changing demographics and population shifts, the countryside is fast turning suburban.

It could be worse. There is some hope. Believe it or not because of the cuts. Some of the road signs are invisible as the trees and shrubs have grown up around them. There is a lack of manpower and money to cut back the foliage on the verges.

As I drive past, I am usually so enthralled by this wondrous act by default, that I fail to see the low branch until it whacks into the mirror. The springtime feeling disappears as I think of how I will explain the cracked mirror to the mechanic....

...."What have you broken now, you....

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