Woodland tales

PUBLISHED: 10:29 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

SIR, — Standing in a gloomy corner of Langley Wood, the Old Codger was alone with an empty pickle jar when he heard a group of walkers coming up the hill singing cheery hiking songs, and spotted them as they rounded the bend carrying long sticks with desi

SIR, - Standing in a gloomy corner of Langley Wood, the Old Codger was alone with an empty pickle jar when he heard a group of walkers coming up the hill singing cheery hiking songs, and spotted them as they rounded the bend carrying long sticks with designer signs and balloons fluttering on top.

"Good morning, if that's what it is", he suggested. "Who are you jolly people in matching eco-green fleeces?"

"We're the Woodland Folk from far away" came the answer. "We're here to enhance your quality of life and help you live longer. Would you care to sign a direct debit and remember us in your will?"

"I've heard you own this land as far as the eye can see", the Old Codger replied, "and got so carried away you gave the farmer more for it than even he could ever have dreamed of."

"Indeed, but it's only virtual money," said a woodland walker, "and people keep doing sponsored walks, leaving big bequests and stuff, so we had to find a Huge Important Project to spend it on."

Thinking of nothing useful to say, the Old Codger asked about the long decorated sticks. "Are they for making new stiles and gates or to defend yourselves in case of a surprise attack?".

"Not so," one replied, "they're new signs to inform the people this has now been re-branded as Heartwood Forest. The staff were sent on a three-day team-bonding exercise, living in teepees on wild nettles and melted snow, to come up with a new name for the Huge Important Project."

"Couldn't you have consulted us," he inquired, "perhaps a competition with the local schoolchildren?"

"Fair point, but they might have suggested names our celebrity supporters wouldn't appreciate or understand."

"Like Sandy Ridge?" the Old Codger suggested.

"Oh no", the bearded spokesman said, "that would be so dull and far too obvious. We had to come up with something...well...clever and aspirational."

A balloon was popped, the signal to move on. As the limp damp rag fell to ground, the small party of Woodland Folk, press officers, public relations consultants, camera and sound operators, cheerleaders, tree-huggers and hangers-on set off to mark out the Huge Important Project.

The Old Codger occupied himself putting the limp damp rag into the empty pickle jar and taking it out again. "Life is full of unexpected surprises," he reflected as the 10.30 express roared through the cutting and holiday jets stacked overhead. "Maybe trees do have a purpose - all 600,000 of them. They'll never find me in there."

ROBERT HILL,

East Common, Harpenden.

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