Do you watch Countryfile?
Do you though, really?
You can tell me, my lips are sealed.
If you are a secret Countryfileophile, now is the time to come out of the gilet-closet and stand up and be counted, because you are far from alone.
I read this weekend the startling news that Countryfile is the most watched TV programme in the COUNTRY – seriously, it is.. And in the towns and cities too. In fact everywhere in the whole of the land.
More than lavish Ruskie bloodbath War and Peace. Incredibly, even more than Call the 50’s-Stereotypes-on-Bicycles-My-Contractions-are-Very-Close-Together-Nyaarrrghhh.
And that has Miranda in it.
But then, in one of those 360 degree turns that characterise modern life, 24 hours later Countryfile was in the Naughty Corner and everyone was OUTRAGED. Let me give you a little sample:
‘I may never watch it again’ Countryfile viewers enraged as show ‘glorifies slaughter’
COUNTRYFILE viewers were left fuming during tonight’s “brutal” edition of the family landscape programme as Matt Baker talked butchering.’
LOL, as the young folk say. LOL again.
So the viewers of Countryfile, or at least the OUTRAGED ones, are ASTONISHED to find that meat comes from dead animals and sometimes a person has to SLAUGHTER them. This disgusting practice is called – whisper it now – BUTCHERING.
As so often these days, I feel like the satirists should just pack it all in as a bad job and go home. I know that it is a requirement of modern life – a duty even – that we are supposed to be OUTRAGED about everything all the time. But surely people weren’t really shocked to see the odd dead animal on a programme called Countryfile, or do these shocked viewers think that farmers just wait at the side of the field until the baa-lambs die of old age?
I think the most telling phrase in this shock-horror report is this one – ‘FAMILY LANDSCAPE PROGRAMME’. The country is marketed as a ‘landscape’ – a setting, a cosy place to get your Hunters a bit muddy and let Persephone and Horatio get all rosy-cheeked and tired out inthe fresh air for bedtime. God forbid if this imagined rural idyll is shattered by some people Doing Farming.
Every so often the local paper here in the Village will have a story about some townies moving to the countryside and complaining about mud on the road, cows being too moo-ey or the bells ringing on a Sunday morning. But this is a step further: townies complaining about the countryside without even leaving their sofas.
This is the weird thing about the countryside – everyone wants to live there, but no one wants to, you know, LIVE there. Only 18% of us live in the countryside, so why is every other shop called Go Outdoors? Because the countryside has become a hobby and a lifestyle, not a way of life.
Waxing lyrical about the richness of the agricultural soil, but not actually wanting to till it.
Admiring the lovely cows in the fields but not wanting to pay a decent price for the milk producers.
Pootling around the lovely isolated villages at the weekend but conveniently allowing the bus services that connect the old and the young and the poor with the towns and the work and effectively suck the life out of those lovely isolated villages.
Yes, Countryfile looks beautiful, but the country life in The Real Life isn’t a landscape.
You can trust me on this subject.
Maybe I should start offering my own little tours of the Real Countryfile. I can start by chucking manure at your car, lobbing a pheasant at your windscreen till it shatters then leaving you at a windswept bus stop for a service then was cancelled in 2011.
Let’s see what Matt Baker makes of that.
Picture credit http://cuteoverload.com/2006/09/21/mmmmm_snoutlici/