I don’t consider myself to be an at one with nature type and a quick look at my jungle of a back garden would have Alan Titchmarsh recoiling in horror, but I do have a simple and uncompromising stance when it comes to trees: They were here before me and they’ll be here after me. This is their planet and the rest of us just live here for a comparatively short time.
So it is completely beyond me how anyone could take the time and energy to make their way to a particular part of Northumberland along Hadrian’s Wall just to destroy a beautiful 200-year old sycamore whose location and symmetry had made it a favourite of photographers far and wide.
A 16-year old and a man in his 60s have been questioned by police, but what concerns me is that should the teenager eventually be charged and convicted his identity will be protected because of his age.
Whoever is responsible for this wanton act of vandalism, on conviction the culprit or culprits should be named regardless of their age, forced to pay for any ongoing maintenance needed to ensure the protection and viability of the stump for the remainder of their lives and given a long community order to plant new trees throughout the county, preferably in the pouring rain, following a three to six-month custodial sentence.
This was not an easy job. It took concerted effort, Just getting to Sycamore Gap would have taken more than most normal people could be bothered with.
A tree this size was not felled by someone who just happened to be walking by with a small axe in their rucksack and suddenly thought up some mischief. It would have required a petrol or battery-powered chainsaw to make such a clean cut.
The consequences should reflect the damage done and the considerable amount of work and planning that would have gone into causing it.
Quick pointer to newly unemployed Sheffield Wednesday fan Dale Houghton. The photos above are real football banter. They are funny. What you did last week at the game against Sunderland was not. It was, as the judge said on Monday, “utterly deplorable” and I hope you are never allowed anywhere near a football ground ever again.
There are momentary lapses in judgement that we come to regret and there are despicable, mindless acts that are too vile to warrant any forgiveness or understanding.
The two in this week’s column fall into the latter category.
Hands up who thinks Gary Lineker is going to pay any attention to new rules for BBC presenters regarding the expressing of opinions on social media… no one? Thought not.
Stupid TV quiz answer of the week
Q: The Siamese cat originates from which continent?
Q: The novel Double Or Nothing features which fictional spy?
A: Kim Philby