Grant Woodward: My kids won’t believe that foxhunting was ever a thing

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It’s up there with phone boxes and life before the internet

SMOKING in restaurants is a definite. The fact people once had to make phone calls from something resembling a toilet cubicle (and which tended to double up as one on a Saturday night) is another.

Then there’s the idea that a time actually existed when we couldn’t just type any old guff into Google and expect chapter and verse on it to spew out.

These are all things that I refer to as Come Off It Dads.

As in, that’s exactly what I expect my children will say to me when I tell them they were once a thing – as I’m told the youth of today like to put it.

Another one we can confidently add to that list is foxhunting.

Let’s be honest. Would you even know where to begin explaining it?

Ok kids, so what happened was that grown men and women used to dress up in posh red coats and spend the day herding lots of yappy little dogs through the countryside while riding horses.

Why did they do that daddy?

Well, they were looking for a fox, you see. They needed to kill the foxes because they kept eating the farmers’ sheep and chickens.

Did the foxes eat a lot of sheep and chickens then daddy?

Erm, well, no, not really. They did a study once and it reckoned they were to blame for about one in every hundred sheep who carked it.

Oh, right...

But the numbers did rocket for chickens – they think foxes were to blame for about two in every hundred of those that snuffed it.

That still doesn’t sound like a lot daddy. So why did they really do it?

Um, well, to be honest, I think they did it because they thought it was fun.

Fun? To let lots of dogs gang up on a fox and kill it?

Well, yes. I guess so.

Come off it dad! Next you’ll be telling us you used to buy music in shops!

Thank goodness for the SNP then. And no, I didn’t think I’d ever utter those words either.

But at least the chippy Scots have managed to keep the bloodthirsty foxhunting mob at bay for a bit longer.

Yesterday, MPs were meant to vote on whether to allow hunts to once again operate with whole packs of hounds rather than just the two dogs they’re allowed now.

The law change would have meant the hounds were still only used to flush out the fox, who would then be shot for its trouble.

But many feared it could have led to a reinstatement of hunting by the back door.

Luckily, David Cameron got a severe case of the collywobbles when the Nats said they would side with Labour to block any “yes” vote and promptly called it off.

Is it fair that the Scots get to influence changes to English laws that won’t apply north of Berwick-upon-Tweed? Not on your nelly.

But in the case of foxhunting I’d happily let Martians line up to vote if it meant keeping foxhunting where it most definitely belongs – in the pages of a history book.

This is a barbaric and unnecessary way to control fox numbers. For a start, it doesn’t even work.

A study published in the New Scientist a couple of years ago found that winter culling of foxes in Wales led to even more foxes the following spring.

Apparently this is because if one bites the bullet, other foxes move in to compete for the territory.

Then they start getting friendly, one thing leads to another, and out pop five more cubs.

So all the tired old excuses that are trotted out by the pro-hunting lobby about it being necessary to control fox numbers is a lot of stuff and nonsense.

What it basically boils down to is a load of toffs who get their kicks out of torturing animals.

If they did it to any other creature they would be locked up for it.

So why should foxes have ever been any different?

That’s a question I fully expect my children to put to me when they’re a bit older.

And I still won’t be able to answer it.

Tragic Greeks raise a smile

OVER THE last few days we’ve seen a lot of angry Greek people on our tellies.

Only yesterday there was footage of a chap ripping up some papers in the Greek parliament. He looked very angry indeed.

If I was living in Greece, I’d probably be very angry too (once I’d got bored of the sunshine, sandy beaches and Grappa, that is).

I probably wouldn’t have a job and even if I did my salary would be terrible.

And even if I did have cash I’d have to trawl the streets looking for a bank that could give me the 40 quid or so that’s the maxium the Greek people can take out each day.

But here’s the thing. Greece is skint and needs money to stay afloat, which the EU has agreed to provide.

But despite everyone knowing the Greeks haven’t got a prayer of ever paying it back, the likes of Germany are still intent on crippling the country for decades so their citizens – whose cash is being used for this bail-out – don’t get the hump.

That may be fair enough, but it’s a bit ironic given that 60 years ago the Allies agreed to cancel half of postwar Germany’s debt so it could rebuild.

It’s not lost on the Greeks, who on the day Angela Merkel demanded repayment on one of its massive loans, handed her a retrospective invoice for Nazi-inflicted damages.

If nothing else, it’s good to see that the Greeks’ sense of humour has survived intact. When they’re not being angry.

Leeds-Bradford’s still on road to nowhere

ISN’T it great that Leeds-Bradford Airport has got the go-ahead for the land it needs for a major expansion plan?

Well, sort of. Obviously people living near the airport aren’t exactly chuffed.

Then there’s the fact that most major airports tend to be in the middle of nowhere with only major roads and public transport links for company.

Leeds-Bradford is nestled among narrow leafy lanes on the top of a fog-prone hill in one of the most inaccessible locations in Leeds.

And how many major airports do you know that you can give someone directions to it by telling them to turn right at Murgatroyds fish and chip shop?

If Leeds-Bradford is going to join the big leagues then it does need to expand. But it’s madness not to put better transport links in first.

This is a textbook example of putting the cart before the horse – which, incidentally, is probably still your best bet when it comes to getting to and from Leeds-Bradford Airport.