Nathaniel Bones writes from Westminster: Hedgehogs are endangered and should be preserved. Who says so? It has to be that other preserved and spiky species, the former British MP, Ann Widdecombe – the best Parliamentary self-publicist since Jack Horner MP. (Who? Read your British nursery rhymes and all will be clear).
It seems that a decade ago there were some 36 million hedgehogs in the UK. Now? Just one million. So where have all the hedgehogs gone and why so long passing? And why’s the government wasting its time on Lords Reform (which even the Lords want but don’t know how to do it) when it should be slapping a preservation order on the spike protected, flea-ridden creatures that once shuffled through every Englishman’s garden.
Bats are protected. So are dormice. So let’s hear it for hedgehogs. That should be all there’s to be said, but it raises a bigger question. We have mostly a dull computer-says-no society. We even have a Royal Family which is ordinary and middle-class and could easily be found cloned in any commuter dormitory town. If they weren’t so rich they’d keep their freezer in the attached one-car garage. But for the moment at least, the monarchy has a preservation order slapped on it.
Now, in spite of their numbers, not many people have actually seen a hedgehog, nor a bat, nor a dormouse and come to think of it, nor a queen. We rely on second-hand images – television, magazines and newspapers. So which public image figures would we put on the Save The Hedgehog List? Let’s have just three examples:
First up has to be George W Bush. Small, whacky, pea-brained and the personality of a prime time self-deprecating stand-up. Plus of course the one time authority to send his country plus their hangers-on to two catastrophic wars. Yessir! We need to preserve the George Dubya to remind ourselves of the reality of the freedom we all crave. (You may want to substitute George for Tony – it’s the same deal.)
Second up has to be the whole European Union bureaucracy, that perfect example of free-loading created by 300 million free-thinking Europeans and then blamed for about everything other than Murray’s defeat except that the EU has taught us Euro-logic. Thus Murray was not defeated. Oh no. In Euro-speak he has simply not won – but is a better man for it.
Third up for preservation? Why, Ken Perenyi of course, one of the finest American art forgers of our time. Brilliant stuff. His best forgery Ruby Throats with Apple Blossoms, supposedly by the 19th-century artist Martin Johnson Heade, made the front pages and was heralded as a major “discovery”. It later fetched nearly $100,000 at auction in New York. He’s a must. He (and the others) remind us that not all you see is the real thing but most importantly, neither are the experts – except of course Ann Widdecombe, who must be at the top of the preservation list.
Got your own list? Keep it to yourself. The one thing that all governments do is to preserve secrecy.