A few months ago I wrote about Kirstie Allsopp after an interview revealed her controversial views on women, careers and parenthood. My qualms were not with her opinions on the balancing act between pursuing a career and having children, but with the ridiculous way our newspapers twisted her words into highly inaccurate, profiteering headlines. It is the utter lack of dignity with which journalists carry out their work that convinced me journalism was not the career for me, and I’m jolly glad I am not pursuing it.
When I woke up the other morning, I browsed through the early news stories and found (unsurprisingly) a new piece of nonsense from the riff-raff at The Telegraph, accusing the BBC of trying to poison the inhabitants of the British countryside. Goodness! I hear you cry.
A marvellous wildflower campaign was featured on Countryfile in April, offering free seeds to viewers to encourage the growth and survival of wildflowers across our landscape. Wildflowers are an integral part of the survival of many insects, butterflies and small creatures, and an increase in their coverage would undoubtedly increase the numbers of other dwindling species. It was a truly great idea to give free seeds away, and for the entire summer adults, children, Girl Guides and schools have been planting seeds where they can in order to give our wildflower population a much needed boost.
But apparently this fabulous act of ecological kindness isn’t quite good enough to evade the claws of our friend David Barrett at The Telegraph, who’s article promises almost-certain death to those who take part in this monstrous project organised by Beelzebub himself. Being the genius he is, he’s cottoned onto the fact that one of the flowers, the rare and beautiful corncockle, is toxic when ingested. Yes it is, Dave. But so are daffodils, laurel, ivy, hellebores, lupins and foxgloves. And any true Poirot fan will know the common yew tree produces taxine poison.
We have lived alongside poisonous plants for thousands of years, yet amazingly the human population still struggles on. Most instances of corncockle poisoning have resulted in little more than stomach-ache and vomiting. Seeing as we’ve screwed up the entirety of our natural landscape and ripped out acres of meadowlands, do we not think it might be wise to spend a little time trying to revive species on the brink of extinction? And when we’ve finished, perhaps we could spend a little time telling our children not to eat random seeds and flowers (what are they, rabbits?). I remember being told about the dangers of foxgloves and I still won’t go near them at the age of 22.
Dave (can I call you Dave?) has demonstrated to me once again how journalist desperation really can make an entire story out of a nothingness. And what’s worse is that many of the people who read his article will now doubt the positive intention behind helping wildflowers, and may even destroy struggling patches of corncockles. If you would like to continue the good work of our conservationists, please look after our wildflowers and plant more! You can buy wildflower seed mixes here. Please also avoid newspapers; they waste trees, life minutes and reading time.
And remember. Don’t eat flowers.