I don't know if it's part of getting older that I'm less afraid of speaking my mind, or if it's just that I'm fed up with the lack of interest exhibited by the majority of people in the world around them, but either way I decided that even something that most would consider trivial or irrelevant was worth making a noise about.
Back in August last year I noticed that the tree outside the local pub had an armoured power cable nailed to the trunk, leading to an enormous length of fairy lights wrapped around the trunk and lower branches to a height of around thirty feet. The cable was so tight that over the obvious couple of years it had been there, it had become tightened with the continued growth of the tree.
Now I'm no botanist, but it was painfully clear even to me that this was not a good thing for the tree - especially as the tree in question is a horse-chestnut that's at least 200 years old.
I'm not some right-on tree-hugging hippy by any stretch of the imagination, but somehow the idea that someone could do this to a tree that had been around for generations seemed just wrong. I mean how the hell could anyone justify risking such an ancient living thing for the sake of a bunch of tacky fairy lights? Only a complete fucking moron, surely.
Suppressing the urge to pay a midnight visit with a ladder and a pair of wire cutters, I contacted the clerk of the parish council to try and get something done by legitimate means.
Assured by the reply that the matter would be pursued, I sat back and waited. And waited.
What happened? Fuck all.
Tiring of getting no feedback I got back in touch with the parish council who said that they'd had the tree checked by a professional who said everything was fine. Excuse me? Who was this person, Stevie Wonder? I'm sorry, but I don't have any regard for someone who calls themselves 'professional'. Taxi drivers insist they're 'professional drivers', but we all know that with the possible exception of White-Van-Man, taxi drivers are pretty much the worst drivers on the road.
The suggestion was made that a meeting take place so that I could point out to those concerned exactly where the problem lay.
Meeting the clerk, the council chairman, and another council member outside the pub this morning, I proceeded to point out exactly where I felt the problem was - I even took the precaution of arming myself with a class 3b laser pointer borrowed from work to be absolutely clear.
Despite the tree being tightly bound by the wire and pointing out where it was cutting into the bark, I was failing to make any impression. The clerk made all the right pacifying noises, and the chairman did his best to be firm yet intimidating (a big mistake because I have no respect for anyone who trys to play that shit with me). Remaining calm and polite was not achieving anything, but I was determined not to be anything other than confident yet serene. Nobody listens to a shouty idiot.
The third councillor was a whole different matter. Propping up the bus shelter with a face like thunder, she had taken an instant dislike to me, which I thought odd given that she knew nothing whatsoever about me and I was being nothing but polite.
The knives really came out though, when I suggested that risking damage to the tree for the sake of a bunch of tacky fairy lights that only get switched on for a couple of weeks a year was immoral.
In full attack mode she launched into a little speech about that being just my opinion and that everyone loves the lights. I said that while I acknowledged that it was indeed my opinion to which I was perfectly entitled, perhaps if she were to actually poll the residents as to whether fairy lights were more important than the health of a 200 year-old tree, she might be a little surprised.
If looks could kill I'd have disappeared in a puff of smoke, but at least she had the sense to shut the hell up. She couldn't have been more transparent if she'd tried - here was the woman who obviously wanted the bloody lights putting up in the first place.
When the conversation had concluded with a hefty collection of platitudes and assurances, I walked home secure in the knowledge that for all the talk, absolutely nothing will happen as a result.
I tried. I felt an injustice was taking place, and that by bringing it to the notice of those with the power to make it right would be the right move.
Maybe I should have done the ladder and wire cutter thing in the first place, but to be honest I think my tree-climbing days are long gone.
But who cares - it's only a fucking tree, right? Tossers....
Approx 100 years ago and recently.
After such a long life, the tree (the big fella just to the right of the pub)
is at the mercy of the twinkly light brigade.