I know I am always moaning about our lousy PR, but last week threw up yet another example. Our major national paper included a half page on the appointment of a forestry supremo, who, it seems, is going to sort out how the new government policy of limitless planting is going to come about.

Somewhere in the copy was a warning about (yes, you’ re ahead of me) deer and grey squirrels, which are going to have to be shot, poisoned or otherwise controlled.

Outrage followed in the form of a letter from a reader, who wrote that red squirrels used to be just as harmful as the grey a hundred years ago, and that all squirrel damage, red or grey, was cosmetic so could be ignored.

Further outrage came from a couple of doughty woodland owners seeking to correct this calumny. Good for them. But where, I ask, just where was our Supremo? When given the chance of nationwide coverage of a very major and vexatious obstacle to his plans, what did we get? Nothing. Zilch. No comment. Perhaps he, and a good many others, ought to look up the extensive research into immune-contraceptive control now once again being trumpeted, which took place at Alice Holt in the 1990s. Which concluded that it wasn’t a practical solution. Ask me, for that matter. I was there on the steering committee. I remember it well. And wake up our man’s PR department, if he has one (which I doubt).

Back, inevitably, to another ‘cosmetic’ problem – Coronavirus. You can’t get away from it, at least on the TV or radio. In all of this, one mantra seems to recur. We are about to change our lifestyle. No more commuting, no more smelly public transport, no more traffic jams, no more parking problems. That’s the future.

Instead of facing all these horrors every weekday and eve, we can sit back comfortably, enjoy a decent cup of coffee, make lunch, and peer at our screens without all the burdens of office life, without the trials and tribulations of having colleagues, having to make conversation at the water fountain thingummy, eating tasteless sandwiches from the supermarket, watching the clock, staying late. What is the mantra? Working at home. Working at home. Flexitime without fuss. Life without queuing. Independence. Control.

It’s just a pity that the virus is the cause. Because having saved so by much by all this convenience, we can’t spend it by going to the pub, or the cinema, the theatre, or eating out. Or travelling. Or sport. Or the Olympics. Or enjoying (did I say ‘enjoying’?) human contact and company. Another step along the road to being trapped in the web. Nasty spiders lurk in there, didn’t you know?

All of which raises another spectre. If we don’t clock in or clock out, or get sweaty or – in most of our cases – muddy, wet and physically tired, how do we define work? Yes, I know, it’s just as onerous to fill in the VAT returns, and to deal with tiresome health and safety and employment issues. I remember that well too. But work, as in ‘working classes’ or ‘working men and women’ could be yet another victim of our changing times. Because the way we are going now, there won’t be any workers.

If they won’t pick strawberries or feed stock on farms then they certainly won’t plant trees in winter in the hills. Too nesh for that. Better driving a delivery van, or staying cosily at home with the computer and the cellphone. As Del Boy and Rodney used to remind us, only fools and horses work.

A French fable tells of a rich landowner whose dying words to his sons were always to dig, rake and cultivate every corner where a hand could pass and repass. Doing this created a fine estate. Good advice in any language.

And I’m just beginning to know how an ash tree feels.

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