Look what we found on a quiet end-of-year walk in Cirencester Park.
I could hear hounds on cry and joined up with J who was there by chance, photographing the trees.
The hunt supporters chatted with us, told us which coverts they had already drawn and were happy having their photo taken.
It was a children’s meet and the little group of children on ponies were being shepherded about by adults. But I was rapidly convinced that they were hunting. Nobody mentioned it overtly, only with ‘nudge-nudge wink-wink’ types of remarks but they were systematically putting the hounds through the different sections of woods and when somebody saw the fox crossing over the ride to get away, a holloa went up and the hounds were called up and directed.
The fox was seen twice. The vehicle with terriermen was prominent at all times. At one point, after the children had been sent home, the hunt left the park and stray hounds were all over the road at Sapperton and others had to be rounded up from the village while they drew a copse next to the road.
It was inconceivable to me that this was a trail hunt. We followed for an hour or two and it seemed horribly clear to me that they were closing in on the fox, the activity had become frenetic with hunt staff galloping round and plunging into a dense area of woodland where the hounds were and the terriermen were poised.
Something was going to happen.
I knew that a fox chased for that length of time would be tired and trying to hide or go to ground. I couldn’t stand it any more. I had no camcorder to record any of it and my companion only had a stills camera.
As we started to leave the area I did the only thing I could think of to do and shouted out to a redcoat galloping past that I believed they were illegally hunting and the police were on their way.
He nearly fell off his horse in shock.
His face registered total dismay and he galloped off.
I had earlier phoned the police but there was no sign of them so we started to leave. On our way out we were assailed, first by two hunt supporters who stood in front of the car and extensively threatened us – “they had ways of finding out who we were”, and then by the terriermen who had apparently come after us in their vehicle. They approached the car shouting and swearing.
The car window was still open from trying to reason with the hunt supporters and a terrierman leaned in, screaming ‘fuck off – get out of here’, tore the car keys out of the ignition and hurled them back through the window.
The keys hit me on the side of the face and then were lost under the driver’s seat. It was a terrifying moment as we had to get out of the car to try and rummage for the keys which had also come in half. I said I was phoning the police to report an assault and they let us go.
Then the hunt was suddenly called off. Huntsmen were running round on foot and hounds were being called out of the woods. By the time we reached the meet area, which was within a very short time, nearly everybody had gone. It was only three o’clock.
The police are now trying to find out the identity of the man who assaulted me.
These extraordinary events happened because I told participants in a supposedly legal activity that I had called the police.