Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bat Brahma

You'd have thought that I'd have had my fill of brahmae for the day, having spent an hour and a half with Derek Thompson on the International Review show on At The Races. However, you can never have too much of a good thing, so the brahma-izing with Thommo has merely whetted my appetite for relating the Bat Brahma (which I have already related, but which, to my horror, disappeared into the ethernet when the Blogger site crashed without having saved the large chapter which I had just written and lavishly illustrated). Anyway, Monday of last week (ie the day before Cheltenham) dawned beautifully frosty and foggy, but it also dawned with the Racing Post relating the saga of Binocular's absence from the Champion Hurdle. One would have thought that that would be brahma enough for one day (week/month/year) - but one would have been wrong, because those of us who made the trek over to the Forest Heath District Council offices in Mildenhall for the latest chapter in the Hatchfield Farm saga - which is seeming to be as long as 'Ulysses' and even less entertaining (if such a thing were possible) - found themselves the fortunate recipients of what I can term a 'bat brahma'.

James Fanshawe always enjoys a good brahma; and he was on the same schedule as I was that day, riding out of the fog in the morning (as is shown here - and it is David D'Arcy on the Michael Squance-trained Diplomatic who is pictured at the end of the previous paragraph, while a string of three Godolphin horses, led by the ex-jockeys Tom Manning and Noel Kavanagh, sit in the lower half of this paragraph) and then contemplating the habits of the bats in the evening. Anyway, as you know, FHDC's planning department unanimously refused Lord Derby's application for permission last year to turn his Hatchfield Farm, on the edge of town, into a large residential/retail/light industrial suburb of Newmarket at the far end of the Fordham Road. Lord Derby is adamant that he won't do anything to jeopardise Newmarket's position as a training centre, but unfortunately he is probably the only man alive who appears to believe that making the town much bigger and busier won't be potentially damaging to its sustainability as the world's foremost training centre. Hence he is appealing - and, while we are lucky to have some excellent councillors who are fighting the good fight, it is felt that it might be a good thing to have some citizens present in the FHDC chambers to observe proceedings whenever the item features on the agenda (which is most weeks) just to ensure that it is not forgotten how strongly the local community feels on the subject. Hence our presence last week.

Of the five reasons for refusal, traffic is probably the biggest; while (to my mind, at least) the least significant is the presence of bats on the farm. This reason might possible be negotiated out of the equation - but, before that can happen, it appears that every bat expert in the country has his or her chance to take a ride on this particular gravy train. Anyway, in the 230-page manuscript (fair dinkum) which accompanied the evening's debate (not even Sir Humphrey could have produced for Jim Hacker a text in which it is easier to get lost) pages 169 to 176 inclusive comprise approximately 500 bat sightings on the farm at dawn and dusk of a handful of summer days last year (ie around 3.30 am and 10.30 pm). Now, we have bats here and they are lovely: you'd never see one in daylight or stationary, but at sundown in the summer they flit around the top of the yard outside here. I'm no bat expert, but how anyone could come to any conclusion other than what was going on was one or more unidentified bats flitting around is not clear to me. These experts though (Keystone Environmental Ltd) can catch a glimpse of a bat dodging past and say whether it is a Common Pipistrelle (most usually) or a Soprano Pipistrelle, or even a Brown Long-eared. And they can say whether it is commuting (!), foraging or socialising. Commuting seems to be the most common activity, which is quite a thought. But, baffling though that might be, even more baffling is the socialising: now, I'm no expert (on either bats or socialising) but I'd have thought that, unless one is on-line and hooked up to a 'social networking site', one would need to be not alone to be socialising; not so with bats, it appears, with a solitary bat having been observed socialising (for about one second, if my experiences of the speed at which bat sightings take place is anything to go by) on several occasions. Is this possible? Or, to put it another way, can we extend the great orgy debate to socialising? One question which has long vexed philosophers (ie me) is how many people are required for a sexual act to be classed as an orgy. I've always maintained that there have to be at least two people involved for it to be thus classed - and I'd say the same about socialising, I'm afraid. So, while FHDC's latest document might be otherwise flawless, I do have concerns about the occasional line among pages 169 to 176. I think that that is about enough drivel for one chapter, though, so I'll bring this little ramble to a conclusion with the sight which greeted Kadouchski and I on our return to the stable after first lot eight days ago: Stan and Bean enjoying the morning sunshine as the last traces of fog and frost are rapidly being vaporized. And the dogs are definitely socialising (even if they look to be ignoring each other). There are two of them.

No comments: