Opinion

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Common sense tells me that within a decade, many packs of foxhounds will have become integrated for all sorts of different reasons and, as a result, some of us will grow in to the 21st century by merging. The power of two, or even three in some cases, will make us stronger, and this inevitable course will ensure hunting’s survival long into the future.

The problem as I see it is that as a community, we are incredibly tribal and the thought of losing our heritage and identity frightens us. But it does make sense and we should continue to encourage sensible, profitable relationships between packs that will put us all in a stronger position going forward.

If full-on amalgamation with one’s neighbour seems just too big a hedge with ditch away right now, then what about a middle way, “twinning” with another pack in the same way villages and towns do?

Let me start the ball rolling. I will bid that we, the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent (OSB&WK), twin with the Heythrop. OK, so once a week, one of us will have a proper hack home, but is that so bad? I can see us now, having our last whisky mac at Chobham services before completing the last 20 miles back to base.

The OSB&WK have friends at the Heythrop and I am sure they would enjoy trips south to hunt in Surrey, Sussex and Kent; we still have a vast and beautiful country. Once a season, we could have a street party celebrating anything and everything, where food and drink would be consumed into the early hours while discussing anything but Brexit or Donald Trump, and both parties happy in the knowledge that they were returning back to where they came from, alone.

I am sure the good people of Chipping Norton would welcome us with open arms. Let’s face it, they might not be twinned with Magny en-Vexin (pronounced vixen) post-11pm on the 29 March the way things are going.

The Old Heythrop Surrey Burstow & West Kent Foxhounds would require a decent-size hunt button, I concede, but all things are possible.

How impressive it will sound when, at dinner on a Saturday night, Heythrop huntsman Mr Frampton tells his guests of starting the day in Gloucestershire and ending it in Sussex (a decent point, even for the maestro).

So, with cloning a thing of the past, the future is twinning. Here’s one for my friend Mr Hacking MFH (the East Sussex & Romney Marsh), what about you and the Berwickshire? Now there is a hack!

Peace, perfect peace

A tip for enlightenment. If my children lose their mobile phones or run out of battery, a nervous look on their faces is usually followed by a complete sense of humour failure and then genuine belief that the world is grinding to a complete standstill.

I believe they invoke stress most of the time (mobile phones, I mean) and suggest to anyone who is on them all day every day, like me, that you have just one day a week when you switch it off all day and all night.

A recent experiment has revealed to me that no calls, no emails, no texts, no news feeds or WhatsApps do make for a calmer and altogether happier mood, and reminded me that if you binned your phone, no one would die. So try it, and I promise you will feel better for that day.
Don’t do it longer than a day, though, because it takes forever to catch up again when you switch it on!

Ref Horse & Hound; 1 November 2018