Always the National Trust sticker. It feels like every time a car parks across the gateway to my horses’ field there is a National Trust sticker in the windscreen.
Sometimes there are several stickers in varied colours, the permits of different years, one above the other, like a star rating system for lefties. A few weeks ago, a shiny black car with five National Trust stickers parked sideways on, blocking not only the gateway but the stile beside it so people couldn’t access the footpath.
When I caught up with the two men who got out of the car, asking them to please go back and move, they were, in very posh voices, extremely rude to me.
‘No, no! We have parked in a parking space, thank you!’ said one of them, patronisingly. And he waved his hand in the air to dismiss me as they walked on. ‘It’s not a parking space,’ I said. ‘It’s a farm entrance with a sign saying access for stock owners only. You have parked on private land across a footpath, blocking the stile.’
The second man then shouted: ‘No! There definitely was not a stile!’
‘Fine,’ I said. ‘Have it your way. There is no stile. I have been imagining that. But the farmer will be coming with a muck trailer any minute and if you don’t move your car he will tow it away.’
Both men then harrumphed and said they supposed they would have to walk the 100 yards back to the gate, which was very inconvenient. When I asked out of interest why they had come down a no entry road and mistaken a farm entrance for public parking in the first place they said ‘Google’ had told them to do it. There are all these maps and walkers’ apps, you see, and they tell people to just keep going, much like the sat-navs tell lorries to drive through the front walls of houses.
You can’t argue because ramblers are mesmerised by the instructions of their phones, which they obey even if the evidence of their eyes is that there is a road sign saying ‘No Entry’ or a ‘Private’ sign on a gateway.
The mid-market hatchbacks covered in stickers pour daily down the dead-end access road to my field, ignoring the sign saying ‘No Unauthorised Vehicles’ to begin the business of blocking gateways. They alight glued to their apps and Google maps, ready for a hard afternoon’s trespassing.
These, after all, are people who, being vegan for part of the year, believe they have more than offset any civil law-breaking they fancy doing. These are people who can pull up wherever they like as they have a National Trust sticker, or ten.
But by far the most belligerent kind of wandering lefty is the sort who displays windscreen stickers from a range of different charities.
As I write, a car has just pulled up bedecked with stickers for the National Trust, a local food bank and something called ‘Kids For Kids’, which turns out to be an outfit that donates goats to children in the Third World. A car doing this much virtue signalling was always going to be trouble.
The builder boyfriend found himself stuck behind it when he went to check my horses. He rang me in a lather, screaming blue murder about what the occupants said when he asked them to move.
They were an elderly couple blackberry-picking, so he deployed a courteous tone in approaching the lady as she walked away from the car — her husband was already further down the lane putting berries in a basket.
‘Would you mind…’ he began, before explaining that while this was a footpath she could not drive down it or park. She had blocked the way and he was stuck behind her, so he could not get past to check the horses.
‘We’ve been coming here for 20 years,’ said the lady, ‘and I’ll park where I like, you moron!’
Whereupon her husband came to see what the fuss was about, looked the BB up and down, and told him: ‘Now you look here!’ as if he were a parking attendant.
The BB, who had clocked the stickers, duly let rip his feelings about the depravity of the liberal left until the pair were forced to flee. As their Volkswagen departed, it revealed a scattering of empty snack wrappers and tissues on the track which most definitely had not been there the night before when we left the horses’ field at sundown.
The BB ran after the car as it reversed, shouting at the couple who donated goats to Africa and food parcels to the starving of Surrey, but they wound their windows up, stone-faced. They neither owned nor disowned the rubbish, so we will never know.
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