With inspired fervour I cast out my net
And snared a great horde of potentials to vet
The journey that followed was completely unplanned
And it feels like I’ve travelled every road in this land
I met a Brummie in Bracknell who thought he was Jesus
A roofer in Rugeley enticed me with cheeses
Two sisters in Stafford had planned a new town…
But only for white folk, no place for the brown
There’s a lady in Leicester who eats lots of glass
“It’s political art,” she said with a laugh
An old chap in Perth jogs round naked at night
It’s nice that he’s happy, but I can’t join his fight
Now, it sounds like my process of sifting is flawed
But there was no hint of loopy till I knocked on their doors
Though their mails were all normal and their claims were serene
They were the maddest collection of bonkers I’ve seen
But I was not disheartened as I criss-crossed this land
With a dream in my heart and mead cup in hand
I knew I must find them, they had to exist
The one perfect person to join my epic quest
Before I could respond, the black-cloaked leader had crossed the floor and pressed an oversized silver goblet into my hand.
“Sit,” she commanded.
Glancing around the gloom of the basement, my gaze was met by the six other occupants, all dressed in black capes and all sporting crude horns on their cowled heads. I sat. The walls of the room were adorned with strange symbols, weird hangings and odd trinkets that appeared to have been woven from mouldy hedge trimmings and dirt.
Putting on a brave face, I gripped the heavy chalice carefully, raised it to my lips and gulped. Merlot. I hate Merlot.
Dear friends, if you ever get invited to the Little Chippenham Modern Friends of the Earth Society for tea, expect the unexpected. A coven of witches, albeit very nice witches, was not exactly what I had in mind when replying to their email. However, as usual, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me take you back to the beginning.
Just over a month ago I visited Westminster and promised you definitive action, proclaiming that before I addressed you again I would find a way to make a real difference. However, after spending almost a year sifting through the mountain of political parties on offer, I was nowhere. How could there not be a single, viable political option for me? It makes it jolly hard to join the campaign trail and make a difference when there is literally nobody worth supporting.
The Green Party were in with a strong shout initially, but I just couldn’t seem to get past their obsession with unnecessary coastal speed bumps. Some of the smaller parties seemed appealing at first, but closer investigation inevitably revealed a glaring thatch of ridiculous dogma that pushed them out into the dangerous territories of extremism.
At the start of August I knew that my methods had to change. And then, over a large plate of vintage Roquefort, it hit me. Instead of trawling the meeting halls, church basements and poets’ corners of the capital to meet the leaders of the future… I could simply sit back and get them to introduce themselves to me.
The plan was simple. There had to be hundreds of people in the UK who were fighting the good fight: noble folks pushing back against a sea of injustice and a whirlwind of bureaucracy; fighting for issues and causes that are worth highlighting, that their politicians and representatives aren’t willing to recognise. Perhaps some of these people could use my help. Maybe I could give them a louder voice and a bigger platform. I wasn’t sure what the end game would be. But I knew I had to reach out to them.
You may have seen some of my adverts in the national press. They appealed for strong community leaders who were looking to make a difference. I invited them to tell me what they were fighting for, and made the promise of potential help. I thought my message had been crystal clear, but having been hit with 10,000 email responses in the first three days, I realised this had not been the case.
After making my way through an obscene amount of begging letters, marriage proposals, death threats and sign-up emails to certain unmentionable services, I was left with what appeared to be a few dozen worthy candidates. This is my life calling. I knew I needed to look these characters in the eye – a telephone chat would not suffice – so I decided to take to the road and meet them one by one. Partisans, the quality was fearfully low.
In Scotland I met a group who were proposing to physically separate England and Scotland by digging a very large trench from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. In the email I received, they described their cause as an ‘extensive conservation project to save endangered North Sea cod’. To be honest, I’m not sure how they intended to herd the fish into their homage to the Panama Canal, nor how they intended to get them to stay there. As with the majority of people I met on the road, their initial message and our follow up correspondence did not bear much resemblance to what they actually wanted to do.
Some of the other highlights from my trip included: a gentleman who wanted help building a 200 metre tall temple in the shape of himself – pitched as a ‘historically significant church restoration’; a group from the Isle of Wight who intended to paint the Needles luminous yellow – pitched as an ‘essential maritime safety project in urgent need of sustainable funding’; and a guy from Christchurch who sought to make his dog Prime Minister. To be fair, that might have been my fault. I think I misunderstood that the candidate proposed was canine.
And whilst the gentleman with the dog made some interesting points, and served excellent tea, the majority of meetings ended with me running quickly for the door in a state of bewilderment and panic. It was around this point in proceedings that I was beginning to kick myself. I had journeyed the length and breadth of the country, I had four people left to visit and things were not looking good… until I found myself in the Garden of England.
It was glorious sunshine and I was in my treasured Alvis hurtling north from Dover towards the Richborough Roman Amphitheatre. Surrounded by a sea of green, everything about the area reminded me of our holiday place over in rural France. Reaching the Roman remains, I slowly manoeuvred the oversized Alvis onto a rather narrow dirt road and continued north.
Carefully, I edged my way between the stunning scenery, navigating around farmland, woodland and an array of streams and tributaries. At the end of the meandering lane I found it: Beeswind Farm. Parking just inside the entrance gate, I made my way up the slight incline towards the house by weaving through beautifully unkempt grassland punctuated with unusual purple flowers and bright yellow plants. About halfway to my goal I heard them: the unmistakable hum of bees at work.
I was there to meet Mike Franks, a real life beeman. For 35 years he has worked this tiny smallholding, growing vegetables, keeping a few livestock and looking after thousands upon thousands of his stripe-suited chums. For the last two years he’s used every penny he has getting court injunctions to stop exploratory fracking happening near his land. His local MP doesn’t want to know and the council voted unanimously in its favour.
He’s been just one man, fighting the good fight, standing up for the community and his colony of magnificent bees…
Now there are two.
Our antennas are primed and set to receive
Our stingers are sharpened, there’ll be no reprieve
Our war paint’s resplendent in yellow and black
The action is starting – we’re prepared for attack