Massacre on Isle of Oxney

Limbs ripped from their owners. Beheadings carried out on a monumental scale. Abandoned carcasses strewn over fields. The early signs of life ruthlessly cut down. Yes, it’s hedge cutting time on the Isle of Oxney.

Littered with fractured branches torn from Mother Earth, it’s the village green that’s been massacred this year. Not the grotty field with the neglected, overgrown pond and a sunken monolith on its perimeter bearing a polished nameplate inscribed with its village green status. It only got that because an erstwhile resident registered it to prevent the threat of residential development from being carried out. To this day there’s been no community activity on it, not a maypole twizzled in anger or a village fete held to rival any of those winsome happenings in Midsomer Murders.

No, it’s the field that everyone refers to as the Village Green that’s been the victim of the heinous act. Next to the main road, lushly green and edged with a copse of deciduous trees, for the past couple of months it has been a haven for dog walkers whose usual footpaths have been made impassable by the rain soaked Wealden clay.

But the scrubby undergrowth on the right of the field was making inroads and needed to be efficiently cleared. I can just imagine a conversation between the person charged with organising its clearance and the supplier hoping to win the contract.

Supplier: Yes, we can do that. Some of our tractors have extra wide, multiple wheels and tyres that minimise the damage on soft terrain. And we have sharp hydraulic cutters that cut cleanly without tearing branches.

Organiser: Oh right, so nobody using the field will be inconvenienced and trees won’t be torn to shreds. Haven’t you got anything else on offer?

Supplier: Well, you can have an old tractor with narrower tyres that will pummel the grass to a pulp and carve deep troughs into the ground. We can fit it with a blunt cutter that won’t live up to its name because it can’t possibly cut, just tear. And for the same price we can not only clear the scrub but annihilate the copse at the top of the field as well, making sure that we churn up as much of the field perimeter as we go. Minimum efficiency, maximum destruction, if you like that kind of thing.

Organiser: That sounds much better.

Just joking. About the conversation, obviously, not the outcome which is hideously accurate. As a fine example of environmental art depicting the turbulence of the trenches and the massacre of the battlefields, it’s certainly a shoo-in for the next Turner Prize. But it’s bloody useless for walking on.

I suppose we could divert to the cemetery, a tree-lined haven of tranquility where you can stand in solidarity with the east facing, ancient headstones. East facing, according to Christians, so that when Jesus returns the departed can rise, already standing in his direction. Or, as the pagans have it, because the dead will always be looking into the rising sun. Take your pick.

But what you can’t do anymore is walk through the cemetery, because the gate has been padlocked. I made enquiries, wondering if evidence of satanic rituals had been found on the graves (no, I don’t know what they could leave behind either), only to discover that the people whose council tax pays for its upkeep have had the temerity to actually access the cemetery and of course they had to be stopped.

Let’s just hope the same supplier who massacred the so called village green doesn’t win the contract to cut back the trees surrounding the graves. Otherwise, if we ever gain access, stepping over the scattered, severed limbs of trees will be the least of our problems.