Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Yetminster, near Sherborne, Dorset is a village I know well. It's a picturesque wee place and the image of Olde England's rural lifestyle. Yetminster also has a thriving allotment community (pictured) and the parish council rents the 20 allotments for £20 each to local residents.
One of the allotment holders is 88-year-old Bill Foster, a retired local government officer. Another allotment holder, Michael Bird, informed others that he'd seen Mr Foster take rhubarb from a nearby allotment and contacted the police. The pensioner had never had any dealings with the police in his life and told them he had an agreement with The Rev to help himself to rhubarb. The Rev confirmed this.
Not to be knocked off his perch, Mr Bird then said he'd contacted the police because "... he was taking stuff from my allotment."
The police said they had been to the village but no offences had been committed. "Words of advice have been given."
If one of England's smallest societies behaves like this in an attempt to oust their oldest gardener, what hope is there for David Cameron's Big Society?
I hope Mr Foster continues to take four sticks of rhubarb two or three times a month from the Rev's patch and hangs onto his allotment until his dying day. If I lived down that way I'd offer to tend it for him if he has any difficulty.