Fight back now to preserve our precious heritage of inner-city tranquillity

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THERE has been a lot of talk about the Countryside March this Sunday, but not much attention has been directed to the March Against the Countryside, a counter-demonstration planned to take place at the same time.

"The country people are coming to London to complain that we city people hate the countryside," says Junkin Askew, editor of Downtown, the magazine for people who hate the colour green. "And they're absolutely right - we do hate the bloody countryside! But we don't go parading round country lanes with banners saying so. We've got more important things to do. However, this Sunday we're making an exception and we're going to organise a march. A March Against the Countryside. A historic first."

Who will be on this march ?

"Well, I think the keenest and most vociferous section will be those journalists who moved to the country to find a new way of life and became disillusioned and had to move back to London. There must be at least 20,000 of them."

Why so much disillusion among journalists?

"Well, this is the way it works," says Junkin Askew. "A journalist moves to London. He writes lots of pieces about the joys of being in London. After a while, he runs out of nice things to say about London - the clubs, the theatre, the food and all that. He gets bored with the River Cafe and with parking problems. So one day he writes a piece about the pain of living in London and finds he has mined a whole new vein. There then follows a series of articles about how nice it would be to get out of London, following which he has only one possibility: he has to move out of London."

This makes it sound as if journalists only move in order to find new material, doesn't it?

"Well, of course they do. You country people don't understand the town way of life, do you? Anyway, the journalist moves to the country and fires off a few pieces about the country. If he has a humorous bent, he will write pieces about how much noisier the country is than the town. If serious, he will write about the wonder of being able to see the stars at night. Then, after an interval of reappraisal, he will suddenly realise how crashingly boring it is in the country - how much he misses his friends, his nightlife, his contacts - and he will move heaven and earth to get back to London."

And then write lots of articles about how glad he is to be back?

"Of course. It's all about turning your experience into cash crops..."

And who else will be on this March Against the Countryside ?

"Oh, there'll be people from all walks of life. There'll be hunt saboteurs who can't get out and about like they used to, and miss their old sport. There'll be people who used to have country cottages and bless the day they sold them. There'll be people who can't stand whingeing farmers and people who can't stand whingeing landowners, and there'll be people who were once traumatised by being ordered off private property and other people who once got lost down country lanes and never quite forgot how terrifying it was to see a signpost saying `Little Petherington 1 mile' and not knowing what it meant, and there'll be property developers and builders..."

And what shape will this March Against the Countryside take?

"A very London shape. We'll all get up at about nine or 10, have a cup of tea, drift down to the shop to get the paper, come back, take the dog to the park or take the children swimming, drift down to the pub at about 12, come back for a late lunch..."

It all sounds rather haphazard, doesn't it ?

"Haphazard?" says Junkin Askew. "Well, you might call it that, but we townees think of it as incredibly laid-back. That's what we are in the town, laid-back. None of this rushing around like you do in the country. Take it nice and easy in London..."

Oh, come on! I've been in Oxford Street! I know what stress looks like!

"Oxford Street?" sneers Junkin Askew. "No proper Londoner ever goes to Oxford Street. That's a ghetto for country people visiting London. Do me a favour."

This Sunday: The March Against the Countryside. Start where you like. March where you like. Down the pub about one at the latest, OK?

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