Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Daily Mail: Not Disgusted Of Oxfordshire

Life is full - full of surprises.
While reading The Daily Mail this morning, I came across an article - about an elderly aristocrat having some problems with a cruising ground close to his stately home - that was positively delightful.
Will wonders never cease?
The Telegraph published a sour and cackheaded piece about this last week.
The Daily Mail's journalist, Robert Hardman - titter ye not - went out to meet the man and see things for himself.
The title sets the tone; 'The doughty baronet and the doggers: Sir Beville's polite war on al fresco liaisons on his estate'
Some land near a layby by his old pile has long been a cruising ground; "It seems to be mostly gay men, but there are also sexual exhibitionists (male and female) and their voyeuristic followers — collectively known as ‘doggers’."
Sir Beville Stainer is being ever so English and nice about it.
"Sir Beville is a man of the world — a former Army officer, he was aide-de-camp to the Governor-General of Australia — and he can certainly see the funny side of it all.
"‘I kept hearing this word “dogging”, so I looked it up on the internet the other day and, well…I couldn’t believe what I saw!’ He bursts out laughing, adding that Lady Stanier was equally startled."
Like the old joke about the couple in a rail carriage who only get told off by their fellow passengers when they light a post-coital cigarette, it's not so much the shagging the baronet minds, but all the litter they leave behind.
"'I came down here two-and-a-half weeks ago and filled 28 binliners with rubbish,’ says Sir Beville Stanier, as we tiptoe through the filth on his side of the fence."
The local peoples' real gripe is that a border fence built by Oxfordshire County Council isn't sturdy enough.
"These people are not prudes. ­Richard, a former resident, laughs as he recounts the sight of a naked man running across the estate at dawn. Some tenants talk fondly of the ­regular faces — the chap with the suggestive numberplate and the bloke who takes up residence in a camper van for the entire summer."
It all reads a little like an Ealing Comedy.
"There is nothing new about sexual shenanigans in this particular layby. The council built this section of dual carriageway through the Shotover estate in the Fifties, along with the public convenience.
"It soon became a meeting place for local homosexuals — plus the police, who once discovered a local magistrate in breach of his own laws...
"‘I am pretty liberal,’ says a lady in one estate ­cottage who does not want to give her name.
‘I don’t mind what people do in their own backyard. But why should they do it in mine?’"
A fair point.
Let us hope this kerfuffle is soon resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
It is time for Robert Hardman to bid a fond farewell.
"The temperature is falling and so is the snow. It’s not exactly Dr Zhivago here on the A40 but it clearly retains a romantic allure for some.
"I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s remark on receiving the grave news that one of his MPs had been caught in a compromising ­situation with a Guardsman in a London park ­during a blizzard: ‘Makes you proud to be British.’"
And so does this article.

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