Jim Perrin sets the cat among the pigeons

We will let the following article speak for itself — apart from pointing out what its writer has so successfully proved, that Jim Perrin is far from the infallibility he assumes when it comes to his knowledge of country ways, and the creatures of the countryside:

The Countryside Alliance complains [about Jim Perrin].

”The Countryside Alliance has sent a formal complaint to the Guardian following an article printed on Saturday14 July titled ‘Country Diary: no sanctuary for hunted partridge at Melangell’s church‘, explaining the many ways in which the article fails to uphold the paper’s own Editorial Code on accuracy. Our complaint asks that the article be amended or removed from the Guardian website, and a correction published, and states that if the Guardian fails to do so we will refer the article to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.The Countryside Alliance is committed to fighting for honest and accurate reporting on countryside issues, and will continue to challenge bias and misinformation whenever and wherever it appears. In addition to our formal complaint, the Alliance also wrote the following letter to the editor:

Jim Perrin’s Country diary argues that the shoot surrounding the shrine of Saint Melangell blasphemes a patron saint of wild creatures. He is wrong in almost every detail of his diary entry. His photograph is of pheasants, not partridges. [The photograph was taken ‘by Jim Perrin’ and the caption described ‘partridges’.] No shot birds are being sent to landfill, they are all joyfully eaten as the tasty wild game they are, and to suggest otherwise is actually libellous.

The only thing Mr Perrin got right is that the valley is a magical place, full of wildlife and romance. It is indeed a treasure, precisely because of the hard work put in to running the shoot. The shooting of the pheasant Mr Perrin mistook for partridges doesn’t just provide delicious meat for the table, it provides the money for the conservation of the hazel hedges your diarist so enjoyed and so much else in the valley.

Every year shooting estates in Wales spend £7.4 million on planting trees, managing hedgerows, cultivating cover crops and conservation headlands, coppicing woodlands and maintaining habitat, to the benefit of a huge diversity of wildlife including Saint Melangell’s beloved hares. The valley Mr Perrin visited may be infused with magic and myth, but it is the very real investment and hard work of the local gamekeepers that keeps it that way.”

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Jac’s sisters are not flying the flag for The Countryside Alliance by reprinting this excellent article; as one of them is vegetarian it is hard for her to reconcile the thought of killing for profit of any kind — be it financial, for ‘enjoyment’, or for the table: but the point is so well made that if the land is not managed, all too quickly it will not be the ‘countryside idyll’ we associate with our beautiful rural landscapes. And we certainly believe that they are right in this instance to highlight Jim Perrin’s authorial short-comings. His ‘nature credentials’, it could be thought, seem more often to have been achieved from the use of notes (or from an active imagination) rather than from keen personal observation.  As Jan Morris once wrote of him: ‘…the natural world always seems to oblige. Wherever he goes, swifts fly by, badgers snuffle, foxes or weasels or inquisitive sheep-dogs watch his passing, seals sing and blackbirds awake the brilliant dawn.’ And, as someone else remarked: ‘There the wild creatures always are; on cue.’  

Jac’s sisters.

Later: Following the exchange above we note The Guardian has amended the questionable diary entry of Jim Perrin by not a single word — merely changed the caption of his photograph — thus letting stand his odious accusations; and supporting ‘one of their own’? However, on the 25/07/2018 Christopher Graffious of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation wrote to them on behalf of the BASC:

The facts about Powys game shoot.

‘Your country diary (14 July) on the Llechweddygarth shoot in Powys is wrong. There are no grey partridge on the shoot. The game is not “tossed into the back of Land Rovers” but hung properly in accordance with the Code of Good Shooting Practice on a purpose-built game cart. The game is not “sent for landfill” but respectfully processed and sold to a local small food business.

There is no shooting in the churchyard of Pennant Melangell; the nearest gun is two football fields from the church and birds are driven away from the shrine.

To pray for the aid of St Melangell for this nonsense is the real sacrilege. Better to invoke St Hubert, the patron saint of game shooting, to protect a well-run, law-abiding shoot that benefits the environment and local area and produces good food.’

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Many more comments than usual were posted after Jim Perrin’s piece. He was probably most gratified. But it seems that this particular entry was more a result of a chip on his shoulder, and some ‘politicking’, than of accuracy, or even basic knowledge. Indeed several of those responding did so, not in support of Jim Perrin, but rather to correct him. As we remarked earlier, we were not involving ourselves with the ethics of  game shooting itself, but noting the author’s misconceived approach to the subject. We feel he had chosen it (and filled with inaccuracies as it was) to appeal by his emoting to a specific audience, and certainly, to judge by some of the comments, he had succeeded in tugging emotional strings.

However, our interest lies in the reappearance in the comments thread of ‘DrudwyBranwen’, a name we have been utterly convinced, since it was first used on the 21/08/2013, is an alias devised by Jim Perrin…

Jac’s sisters.