Three badgers had lived quietly down in the woods just below our house for years. They upset no one and no one really bothered with them. They were just there in the background along with all the other members of the family of friends who lived at Belmont North. Then something changed, not suddenly but slowly, imperceptibly a first. Marjorie bought a bird feeder. Now she was extending an extra kindness to birds. Some some new foreign ones arrived too. We had all sorts flying in – black ravens, grey headed jackdaws, jays with their iridescent blue stripes and, of course, sparrows tits, and the year-round red breasted robin as well as a few visitors like swallows and swifts – to peck away at the freely abundant food….
Her kindness extended to badgers. Her generous nature persuaded bought extra feed for badgers, and then nightly she would place nuts around. Soon they had worked out that Belmont North was a good place. It was a kind, open and welcoming, but they wanted more. They knew that they were pretty high up the food chain. ‘No more predators for us,’ they said.
In fact, they started to chase away the fox that hitherto had enjoyed a nibble at the peanuts. Now the three badgers were on the look out for incomers to ‘their’ territory. They wanted all the food for themselves alone, they believed in some divine right – for they had been to the best schools, and knew all the answers, at least all the answers from the perspective of a well-schooled badger who could argue for his position.
Marjorie didn’t notice this subtle change for a while, but then said, ‘I haven’t seen the fox lately.’
I told her, and here I should introduce myself as the unheard public of Belmont North, ‘Do not worry. It’s probably only a temporary blip.’
But was it? I wondered when I saw the three badgers hounding a fox away from the boundaries of the property? Then I found a badger note affixed to the feeding station. It read: ‘Belmont North for Badgers’.
How could this be? The badgers, those seemingly simple, lovable creatures with hitherto fine manners, wanted to isolate themselves from the world around them.
Could they police an estate which for years had run smoothly with everyone, the fox, the birds, the domestic cat, the weasels, the slugs and even the frogs, doing their bit. Would they really be able to run it better. Would the estate, which until now had had an open policy, be better off if it were just for badgers?
It certainly couldn’t continue like this.
‘Someone had better tell those three badgers to shut up,’ the fox said. ‘We have lived together for years, in fact, I think we even came here before the badgers.’
The blue tit said, ‘I may be small and insignificant but we are numerous and we do so many things, small things which keep this place in order.’
The domestic cat said,’Everyone has made a nice home for me. Would it be so good if we cut our links with the houses around us?’
And so they had a midsummer meeting- everyone had discussed the pros and cons – even the weasel had a few words to say about his security being better- as he warily eyed the fat cat.
‘Before we start this meeting’ said Marjorie, the hand that fed everyone, ‘Let’s hear what the three badgers have to say.’
Boris, the wild haired badger who wouldn’t admit to his black stripes only his white ones, blustered, ‘It’s about the right to govern ourselves.’
Haven’t we been doing that for years wondered fox.
Wily Nigel, who looked up from supping at his bowl said with a twinkle in his eye, for he was the most engaging one, said, ‘It’s all about food- your food. We are giving it away.’
But does that mean I’ll get more food thought the raven who was always hungry and lived off scraps.
Finally, the shyest badger, Gove, stepped forward he opened his mouth, but he was young and inexperienced and he said nothing.
‘Off you go and vote, then,’ said Marjorie. ‘And mind out. Your decision is final. Do you want to let the three badgers run Belmont North?’
The fox awoke scared by the nightmare he had dreamed in the middle of the night: 17,410,742 vote for the badgers. Cameron resigns, leadership election underway among the 300 odd (odd literally too) Conservative MPs, Labour leadership under question as many working class people vote to leave – against the the party’s fairly united stance of Remain. The EU is itself in some turmoil as optimism which had hoped for a Remain vote is shattered. Will Europe now take kindly to Britain’s demands? The pound falls – his Maltese holiday looks to be more expensive now – interest rates rise to quell imported inflation, mortgages which had been manageable, just, on 2 or 3 percent now cause defaults as those rates edge up to 6 percent in line with a higher bank rate which contains inflation but stifles GDP as the economy worsens. Unemployment rises…
Every constituency in Scotland votes to remain by 62:38 (with an increased % over 1975) and so the prospect of an independent Scotland looms again. Similarly, Ireland votes to remain 56:44 (with an increased % over 1975) with the nationalists being the most pro-Europe. With the new need for a land border with the South of Ireland now, there will be surely a move to re-unite Ireland. So in ten years will the United Kingdom be a disunited region with new names of Engwalesland, Euro-Scotland and the United Republic of Ireland?
His nightmare faded but there was one last horrific vision, I wasn’t too clear but did he see Boris shaking Donald’s hand as the two leaders of the English speaking world met on an aircraft carrier under a banner of ‘Mission Accomplished’?
The fox rubbed his eyes. No, it wasn’t a nightmare. It was reality for Belmont North. Days passed, and the analysis of the vote began without any sense of opportunity or optimism, but with introspection and a large dollop of pessimism.
Boris, the boldest and most popular badger, whose opinion just months ago had been “veering all over the place like a shopping trolley” now looked set in his new sett with its shiny black door. Top badger at last, but did it mean he had to solve the problems he had created?
The supply of peanuts declined quickly, but no one was sure why. Soon, the poorest animals, the slugs, who had secretly admired Boris, complained that their food was being been taken away. So Nigel, the wily badger, called for a public holiday – it will take their minds off the food – he told Boris, and still Gove said nothing for most of his friends were barely affected.
Then something queer happened. The food disappeared from the neighbouring estates too. Now Boris faced angry badgers equally as big, if not bigger, than himself. Until now he had only faced up to the younger fox – he hadn’t thought about the other foreign badgers. And now he discovered that many of his slug friends were not his friends at all. Only a small group of badgers set in their ways with no experience of other estates were there to support him.
The domestic cat asked, ‘Who will cut the grass and pick the fruit now the Polish dogs have gone?’ The blue tits asked, ‘When will we get the money you promised for our new animal hospital, and for our new heated bird boxes?’ and, ‘Will we be able to fly south for winter like we have always done?’
Boris blustered for he didn’t know the answer.