Well, it had to take something pretty strong to get my writing my blog again. I just had a very angry comment about a post I wrote just over 2 years ago: The Wild Boar Hunting Society. The person writing the comment was so angry at me, threatening to spray pig slurry on my home, that I went and re-read the post. And I have to admit that reading it with fresh eyes, I realised that I had made some big sweeping statements two years ago. In the blog post I come across as a raging extremist. I think it was partly because like the person who was angry at me, I was also very angry when I wrote the post. That week I had been in close, conflictual contact with some very drunken, selfish, rude hunters who had blocked the road to our house with their massive jeeps. And it was the two year anniversary of the death of a young man who had been out on his mountain bike and shot and killed by hunters. And I was breast-feeding and hormonally sensitive. Especially when walking past the cut-off tails of baby wild boars that had been nailed to the door of the hunters’ hide-out. But that doesn’t excuse everything. I did write “I hate hunters. I hate them with all my might. I delight in tales of them accidentally shooting each other.” That was pretty nasty of me, I have to admit. And I went on to write, “When I see them, I scowl and send out deadly rays of painful cell-shrivelling terror, aiming for their inner organs. The more hunters who perish, the happier I am. This is because all the hunters I have ever met are : 1/ boorish, 2/thoughtless, 3/self-important, 4/narrow-minded, 5/ macho. They are also all red-faced and ugly.” Ahem. I can imagine that someone who doesn’t know me might have read that post and come to the conclusion that I am an absolute raving loon, wrapped up in a fog of hatred and bitterness. And to lump all hunters into one category is totally unfair, I know. I can’t stand people doing that, yet I did it 2 years ago having just had a run-in with a nasty bunch of blokes who all happen to like shooting animals of a winter morning.
Since then I have met some nice hunters. Ones who are careful and respectful of nature and the families living in the countryside. Ones who warn you they’re hunting in a certain area so that you don’t stumble into their crossfire. On two different occasions I have found a couple of lost hunting dogs and have phoned their owners so they could be reunited with their faithful friend. I even offered them a coffee. I have had a meal with some very nice hunters who are friends of a friend. One of my colleagues, who is now a friend, turns out to be an occasional hunter. So my view of hunters has changed. Some of them are utter idiots, still stumbling drunkenly through the valley shooting too close to the village houses, but some of them are very decent chaps.
Here is the angry comment on my original ‘Hunters” post:
“If only you could see yourself for what you are. In my opinion the sort of Brit who gives other English people in France a bad name. Who or what gives you the right to be critical of the local traditional culture. Hunting in France has been practiced for a very long time & certainly long before you imported your intolerant towny views. Rarely have I read such a demonic rant as yours about the hunters. You are obviously the wrong sort of person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either you should ship-out or get professional therapy for your intolerance & try to blend with your locality. Thank God you don’t live anywhere near me or I’d be delivering a couple of tons of pig slurry via pressure pump all over your house. Surpised no one has done so already, it’s long overdue.”
In response to this, I have a few things to say.
“Who or what gives you the right to be critical of the local traditional culture.” Well, anyone has ‘the right’ to criticise anyone or anything, including local traditional culture. It’s called freedom of expression. And criticism shouldn’t come as a surprise when certain participants of a traditional pastime are disrespectful of the people actually living there. The hunters who tend to block the village square and all access to the houses below the village don’t actually come from around here. They’re not locals at all. They drive down from Lyon and St Etienne, hunt, drink, hunt a bit more while still drunk, drink more, then drink-drive their way to their weekend gîte. I’m not the only one who is annoyed with the behaviour of these particular hunters; lots of other villagers are bothered by them, our mayor too. They are renowned for being disrespectful and aggressive. Very different to the hunters I have met who live around here. The local hunters are far more careful of the environment and the villagers.
“Hunting in France has been practiced for a very long time & certainly long before you imported your intolerant towny views.” Hmmm. How do you know I’m a “towny”? I’ve been living in France for 18 years, most of that time in the countryside. When I lived in central France I ran a farm with my French boyfriend. I have birthed lambs, calves and foals. I tended to a vegetable plot so huge we didn’t need to buy any vegetables for five years. I know my plants, my trees, my mushrooms. Not exactly a towny then. It’s these particular hunters who are “towny”, driving down from the big cities to have careless fun in the countryside. And even if I was a towny, just because something has been practiced for a very long time doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be criticised. Hanging was practised for a very long time until someone started to make noises about it not being a very nice ‘tradition’.
“Rarely have I read such a demonic rant as yours about the hunters.” Yeah, you’re right there. I did indeed sound demonic. And I was indeed ranting. Sorry about that. I was really pissed off with those disrespectful drunken men. And I went and lumped all hunters in the same bucket, which isn’t fair, I know. It’s quite a revelation to read something I wrote so long ago, now in a very different state of mind, and to actually be regrettably surprised at what I wrote.
“You are obviously the wrong sort of person in the wrong place at the wrong time”. Erm… hang on. Maybe those drunken hunters were actually the wrong sort of people in the wrong place at the wrong time. ie: rowdy, drunken blokes in a sleepy little village at 2 in the morning, parked so that the inhabitants couldn’t drive down to their houses, or out again in the event of an accident and/or a dash to the hospital.
“Either you should ship-out or get professional therapy for your intolerance & try to blend with your locality.” Yeah, thanks mate. I help the local farmers out when they need a hand, visit the elderly ladies in the village, only buy local produce from the local farmers, give free English lessons to the neighbourhood schoolchildren, translate all sorts of things for the villagers and help them when they don’t understand documents in English, take all our vegetable peelings and leftovers down to the farm to feed the pigs, give guided tours based on the local architecture, history and geology of this corner of the Ardèche, speak fluent French with local slang thrown in… if that’s not blending in with my locality then I don’t know what is. You have hastily judged me on one angry blog post without knowing anything about me or my life.
“Thank God you don’t live anywhere near me or I’d be delivering a couple of tons of pig slurry via pressure pump all over your house.” Wow. And you talk about intolerance and demonic behaviour. Nice one, the pig slurry and the pressure pump.
“Surpised no one has done so already, it’s long overdue.” Well, now things are getting interesting because I have never been “ranted at” before in my life, yet just yesterday someone had an email rant at me for something entirely unrelated. Or was it? I am beginning to wonder whether the two angry rants are in fact coming from the same source. It’s so easy to find people on the internet. All it takes is typing my name into Google and there my blog is. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s pure coincidence. But the writing styles are VERY similar… which makes me wonder… hmmm…