‘Herefordshire welcomes outsiders with open arms, pats them down to see if they’re carrying any subsidy cheques, and sets them to work in the orchards for a long, dispiriting summer.’
Rising at 5 to stomp about protecting the county’s borders with an uncocked shotgun slung over their left arm, Herefordshire’s self-reliant people do what they can with whatever they can grow, cook or beg from public funds. The area’s pastoral land is particularly suited to fruit production, though the timeless beauty of the landscape has been despoiled recently by the networks of plastic tunnels built both to protect harvests and house the illegal immigrants picking them.
In addition to growing apples, Herefordshire also plays a big role in turning them into the product that sets up the area’s children mentally for the career opportunities ahead. Aside from farming, cider is Herefordshire’s single biggest industry, with many locals working in the large Bulmers factory and hundreds more employed as part of the county’s ciderspace marketing team.
Still psychologically scarred by the effects of BSE and the foot and mouth epidemics, Herefordshire’s people haven’t enjoyed Bonfire Night in quite the same way since. The culling of so many animals was a disappointing experience for many, with yet another promising barbecue ruined by persistent rain.
- TYPICAL CIDER INGREDIENTS – 86% apples 14% urine
- TYPICAL URINE INGREDIENTS – 100% cider
- MAIN CAUSE OF DEATH – Culling
- LOCATION – Close enough to Wales to have bullshit law about it being legal to shoot Welshmen with arrows
- JUSTICE SYSTEM – 12 bore; scarecrows
- SHEEP SHAGGERS? – With all these beautiful cows around?
- ECONOMY – All good as long as EU keeps sending cheques
8th Century – Anglo Saxons in the area construct Offa’s Dyke, failing to anticipate the Welsh forces’ tactic of ‘jumping’ to overcome the defensive powers of a ditch.
1079 – Hereford Cathedral’s builders are so distracted with finishing their work they fail to notice that town of Hereford has not yet been built.
1646 – Anti-Puritan sentiment is expressed in Hereford through the defiant drinking of beer and cider, a political message which is maintained throughout the conflict, immediately after the war is concluded, the year after that, and for the next 366 years.
1809 – In one of the last ordeals by ducking stool, Leominster spinster Jenny Pipes is acquitted of witchcraft as accusations surrounding her ‘devilish ability to propel herself through water using arms and legs’ are proved false.
1850 – Herefordshire curate Francis Klivert publishes extensive journals recording his ‘humble and uneventful life’, a book that goes straight to the top of the non-seller lists.
1900 – 1945 – Not much, frankly.
1996 – A library containing a restored copy of the Mappa Mundi, a spectacular Medieval world map, is opened in Hereford. The parchment depicts a flat Earth, showing Paradise and the four great cities of the day; Jerusalem, Rome, Troy and, thanks to a restoration error, Babylon Five.
Did You Know?
The Herefordshire flag represents the tragedy of how, thanks to the seas that part them, lions and cows will never live side by side.
Nell Gwynne, the mistress of King Charles II, is said to have been born in Hereford in 1650. Originally an ‘actress’, Miss Gwynne guaranteed her place in history by becoming the first women in England to have breasts.
Ross-on-Wye is said to be the birthplace of domestic tourism. In 1745 a local clergyman started taking friends on boat trips down the valley from his rectory at Ross. The Wye Valley’s particular appeal was its river scenery, though visitors were drawn by the opportunity to buy souvenirs saying ‘My betrothed and I went down the River Wye and all I got was this infernal top hat’.
Hereford is the base for the Special Air Services (SAS), an elite fighting unit of the British Army. The SAS is frequently chosen to fulfil the Crown’s toughest military operations, including the storming of Barbara Cartland.
Herefordshire is one of only three counties in England not to have a university. However, it does contain a number of agricultural colleges, teaching the landowners of tomorrow the secrets of husbandry, permaculture and courting livestock.
Attending Hay Literary Festival is said to be the best way to imitate living in a culture supplement, a section of the newspaper 99% of readers use exclusively to wrap around bits of broken glass before putting them in the bin.