I issued another dog-walker with an asbo this morning. I've been watching her, or rather her dog, gallop care-free through the Skylark breeding areas for the past few days. She knew this, and would guiltily put her dog on a lead when she saw me looking in their direction. Today I stopped her, asked her if she had seen the signs. She had. But the dog needed its exercise. There are other dogs running in the long grass too. That doesn't make it right, I chided. Honestly, like speaking to a child. She huffed. I persisted. Finally, a reluctant "well I'll try to stay over this side, but it won't be all the time". We'll see. The closest Skylark population to central London, and she'll perhaps try. There are rules you know.
Here is one of them, taken from the whopping great sign in the Park. The disturbance bit is pretty unequivocal, and "effectually restrained from causing annoyance to any person" is presumably ye olde english for don't let your dog bite birders. Good to see that the same problems existed half a century ago.
Whilst byelaw #11 is still as valid now as it ever was, there are some great ones that perhaps need a bit of reworking.
#29 is a good one - no shooting galleries or coconut shies, golly gosh how dreadful that would be. What would it be these days I wonder? A man in a tent offering 1p mobile calls to Lebanon? Equally, no person shall hire out any mule or ass. Or goat. OK then, we won't. Lucky that rule is in place, we might otherwise be overrun. Quad-bikes, no problem. You will note also that photographic equipment is also a no no. Oops.
It gets better though, much better. In these previously enlightened times, gypsies, hawkers, rogues and vagabonds shall all be removed from the Park. Too right! Beggars, brawlers, gamblers and fortune-tellers are all similarly undesired. Away with ye! And no tramps either, which could be highly problematic for the local birders, and god only knows what might have happened at the Wryneck twitch last year had the Epping Forest constables been present. Several might have been carted off!
Superb, no? One can only imagine bucolic scenes of groups of vagabonds sat in the copses betting on dice, gypsy women roaming the broom fields plying for people to cross their palms with silver, rogues cursing at females, and mass brawling. Or you could just wait for the fair to turn up again.