Leading Article: Let a thousand backyards bloom

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BEL MOONEY, the well-known writer, has been accused of that most odious mode of late 20th century social misbehaviour, Nimbyism. Ms Mooney, you will recall, joined the fight against a bypass near Bath threatening Solsbury Hill and its ancient hill fort; it became one of the great environmental causes of the year. She lived in a Mongolian yurt decorated with kilims and listened to Gregorian chants on a cassette player while keeping in touch with her husband, Jonathan Dimbleby, the well-known broadcaster, on a mobile telephone. She lived on mineral water and fruit juice, dreamt of smoked salmon, and went on a hunger strike, losing seven pounds before being talked out of it by friends.

Sadly, the battle was lost, and Ms Mooney returned to her home, conveniently nearby. Last week she was joined by some of her fellow protesters, who asked if they could move into one of the four fields owned by her husband. Ms Mooney refused, thereby attracting vilification of a degree usually reserved for Michael Heseltine. In vain does she protest that organic crops, slopes, wild flowers and a bull make the fields unsuitable; the pack is unleashed, baying as one: Nimby] This is completely unfair. For one thing, you do not have wild flowers and organic crops in a yard. And for another, Nimbyism is such a middle-class guilt thing: everyone else believes it the natural way to behave. What is our society other than the vigorous competition of various backyards? It is time to come out, to scorn the sneers of clever-clogs commentators. Let us ring the Dimbleby-Mooney fields with our yurts and kilims, proclaim an end to hypocrisy, dine on smoked salmon, and play Gregorian chants really loud.