Will, my son, said I had to watch Lie of the Land – the Molly Dineen documentary broadcast on Channel 4 last week – as it was just what I was on about. He even left instructions as how to record it and phoned me again on the evening to make sure I hadn’t forgotten. He phoned again during the second interval…’it’s awful.’ he said ‘I don’t get it. Hunting is not the whole reason for rural life and farming. And all the killing – it’s using shock tactics. most urbanites will have turned off by now.’ He phoned again at the end…‘It’s biased and one sided and I don’t think it will do farmers any favours.’ He also added that he didn’t like the camerawork. Let me explain – Will was born and bred on a farm, he’s seen and experienced life and death and understands the gore and grit as well as the joys and beauty. He now lives in London and works, successfully, in the media.
What did I think? I felt distinctly uncomfortable.
Hunting is a small part of country life, not its reason for existing. There are many more real problems facing the countryside and farmers.
What did seeing half a dozen calves, a cow and a horse shot within half an hour achieve? Mincing male pheasant chicks, liquidising fox/ferret for drag hunting? Ratting? Loading a group of panicked steers?
It appeared to confirm the worst fears of the urban masses – that the countryside is a brutish and coarse place.
I looked at what the newspaper critics wrote the next day – without exception they all thought it was brilliant. Full of praise for Molly Dineen’s ‘powerful, yet simplistic approach’. I was naively surprised.
Anything positive? If it gets people talking, maybe the real struggles of our changing farms, farmers and countryside will come to light.