For fox sake, what’s wrong with hunting?
Given the fox-like yelps of anger that greeted Theresa May’s recent proposal regarding an unpopular and unusual rural practice with violent undertones, you’d be forgiven for thinking she’d suggested introducing compulsory Morris dancing. Instead, the PM promised a free vote on fox hunting.
At least the media backlash to May’s announcement proves that the national sport of toff-bashing is alive and well. It is true that, for far too long, fox hunting has been the preserve of a wealthy, landed elite. This must change. If Britain is to bring back fox hunting, we need to do more than just overturn the ban – we need to democratise the sport.
Many of its detractors balk at the sight of Hooray Henrys in top hats and scarlet jackets on horseback. Some have no objection to pest control per se, but point out that the blokes from Rentokil don’t prance around on a pony as they gas your wasps. This undoubtedly sincere concern about this inequality of pageantry should not be left unaddressed. Why not add a bit of pomp and ceremony to your next fumigation? Should we not aspire to sartorial excellence for people from all walks of life, whether master of the foxhounds or pest-controller?
What’s more, fox hunting should no longer be the preserve of the rural rich. London’s booming fox population offers plenty of opportunities for would-be hunters. The bins at the back of every Tesco could be meeting points for a thriving new hunting scene. Hunting clubs could offer a real alternative to the capital’s saturated crazy-golf-bar and ping-pong-pub market. Fox meat could even make a welcome addition to the experimental dishes on offer in East London’s pop-up restaurant scene.
In all seriousness, as a Londoner, I have to admit that I find fox hunting a bit weird. I’m even sceptical about the concept of a ‘rural life’ that needs to be protected. But the ‘f’ words we shouldn’t forget in relation to the fox furore are freedom and fun. Just as Londoners should be free to indulge in strange things like cereal cafés and sober morning raves, so too should our countryside friends be free to join a hunt. Let them have their fun, for fox sake.
Fraser Myers is a producer at WORLDbytes.