Appearances and reality – tales of Loughborough Market Place

LOUGHBOROUGH Market Place was ablaze with colour and social chatter on Boxing Day morning in the 1980s.

Huntsmen and women looked smart and glamorous in their red tunics; the horses a magnificent sight to behold.

Crowds chatted merrily. Some toasted friendly faces they hadn’t seen since the very same event 12 months before.

Here we were observing a good old English tradition at Christmas. What could be wrong with that?

But, slowly at first, the voices of dissent began to mount. From a handful of protestors with their banners and chants, opposition began to grow to the point where it almost resembled a football match between deadly rivals.

More poignantly, councillors became more and more divided on whether the council should host the hunt.

Eventually one year on after the Mayor of Charnwood Coun Mavis Mason had saved the hunt with her casting vote, the die was cast.

Were the hunt to return to the Market Place this Boxing Day, the majority of locals would be somewhere between surprised and angered (a minority, naturally, would be highly delighted).

Last Saturday saw another major attraction for Market Place shoppers – Armed Forces Day.

Military vehicles and equipment were the source of much admiration – and, yes, they looked an impressive sight.

A ‘day of celebration’, as the Loughborough Echo described it, was organised by the same Charnwood Borough Council.

Less than 100 yards away I was part of a weekly stall run by Loughborough Peace Group.

Very few folk came to look at the literature we had on offer. Leaflets were handed out, the odd person signed our petition against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

Overall, I suspect we were very much in the minority.

The Peace Group aren’t directly opposed to the armed forces; but neither were the protestors seeking to bring down individual hunters. Not really.

Instead it’s what happens way out of sight of the admiring crowds that’s the source of controversy.

I’ve never seen a fox torn to pieces in front of my eyes – never want to.

Nor do I want to see innocent civilians in the Middle East bombed to death or maimed for life by our armed forces  – no need to worry as our mainstream media ensure I never have to!

I love animals, but I value human beings even more highly.

I’ve got no problem with the volunteers who think they are doing the right thing joining our armed forces. Perhaps they feel it’s a good job option in times of scarcity or genuinely buy the line they are serving their country.

That certainly rang true for soldiers in the First and Second World Wars – and I respect that too.

But what about World War Three, the almost inevitable conflict becoming more believable almost by the day?

Today we have access to worldwide information, courtesy of the Internet, that our parents and grandparents would never have thought possible.

If we so choose, we can check out what the key players around the globe are saying at first hand – no need to wait for the Six O’clock News.

It’s a difficult job, granted, and it won’t take five minutes.

But, if you do so, you may be surprised, even shocked, by what you discover.

Britain is not universally admired for what is being done abroad in our name. Far, far from it.

Perhaps you’ll begin to see like I do that the ‘terror’ attacks now being perpetrated in mainland Britain are, whilst never justified, almost inevitable.

It’s not how magnificent we or our technology looks that’s the issue, it is what we actually do that counts.

I wonder if in 30 years’ time someone will look back in horror at the very thought of military vehicles being seen in our Market Place?

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