FuckThisPrickI know, it sounds like a bad supervillain’s name – and maybe it is.

Groundlord is a tree-surgery company in the Andover area, whose concept of ‘surgery’ would seem to be more in keeping with a medieval barber than the consummate professionals we think of what we use the term.

They, most particularly Joshua Pritchard is an abusive and destructive individual, whose skill in the horticultural arts is matched only by his debonair witticisms. To wit, ‘faggot’.

Now, it can take an awful lot for an Englishman to get his dander up. I think we can all draw comfort from the knowledge that in whatever post-apocalyptic scenario bedevils us in the future some starving British ghoul, eating cold rat from a Wellington noot with a corkscrew, will still sigh and comment to themselves ‘Still, mustn’t grumble’.

What, then, could drive one such as myself to put digital pen to digital paper and to misplace my rag in such a manner?


This is what the hill path used to look like.

Well, this chap – who is to arboreal care what Bob Dylan is to clear vocal delivery – has been employed to ‘tend’ some much-beloved woods at the top of the hill in St Mary Bourne, Derrydown Copse. Apparently, we live in Bizarro World as the word ‘tend’ apparently has a meaning we would more commonly associate with rampaging Vikings than with people we entrust our plants to.

They’ve been criticised before, of course, there is a local Facebook page where people have raised their concerns about the work that has been going on. Many of them, including myself, quite reasonably, asking about the work that was going on, the apparent destruction, the wildlife, and trying to ensure everything was as kosher as Rosh Hashanah.

These concerns were met with a tirade of abuse from Mr Pritchard, and a constant excuse of ‘conservation’, which has grown about as convincing as a combover. Appropriately enough, the copse on the hill could use a combover to cover over all the bald patches it now sports.


And this is it now, bald as Patrick Stewart

Maybe the work did have to be done, but it has been going on for a couple of years now – this progressive destruction – and the promised boon to the local wildflowers has not been forthcoming, nor has proper care of the birds, nor proper testing of the Ash trees.

You’ll pardon me, I’m sure, if I have trouble believing that someone addressing me as ‘Oi, faggot’, is au fait with gene-testing for Ash die-back resistance.

It’s less a copse or woodland now, and more a loose collection of socially awkward trees at a school disco, trying to maintain their personal space. Perhaps ‘corpse’ and ‘copse’ are spelt similarly for a reason.

Quite apart from that, I don’t think in this day and age we should happily, and without pushback, suffer abuse gladly (particularly homophobic abuse). Certainly not just for showing polite concern about their work. Less polite as time wore on and the abuse piled up, but still, an effort was made. The venom and vociferousness of the abuse is just the excremental icing on the faecal cake.

So, if you enjoy hiring rude, obnoxious, bigoted gentlemen whose talents are better suited to onanism (figuratively handling wood, rather than literally), knock yourself out. If you want to recreate World War One’s No-Man’s-Land, or you can’t afford agent orange, you might have some use for them.

Otherwise, steer clear.


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