Next to our house us a bit of “conservation land” upon which are a handful of trees. One of those trees was cut down by tree fellers (by which I mean people who cut down trees, not a trio of Irishmen… I’ll let you think on that for a while) a few weeks ago. It’s neighbour is stretching one of its limbs out quite a distance to the point where it is now overhanging our roof and risking causing damage to our tiles.
For those who don’t know, conservation land is protected and Joe Public can’t just go marching in with an axe to get rid of any problems, so we rang the council to ask if they could help. It’s their responsibility to sort these things out. Gillian spoke to one of their staff on the phone today:
Council: Hi, so you say there’s an overhanging tree next to your house which is causing problems and it’s in a conservation area?
Gillian: Yes, that’s right.
Council: Only there aren’t any conservation areas near your house.
Gillian: Actually, there is. From where I’m sat I can see the council-labelled sign which warns people walking onto it that it’s a conservation area.
Council: Well, it’s not on my map.
Gillian: So does this mean that I can just grab a saw and cut the branch off?
Council: NO! Absolutely not!
Gillian: Why not?
Council: Because it might be in a conservation area.
Gillian: But you just said it wasn’t. Is there a chance that your map is wrong?
Council: No, not at all. They’re all very up to date [aside – the land’s been conservation designated for at least ten years since these houses were built and likely for a long time beforehand]
Gillian: So it’s not in a conservation area as far as you can tell?
Council: That’s right.
Gillian: So I can just take a saw to it?
Gillian: OK, so you’ll send someone to sort it?
Council: No, we’d only do that if it was in a conservation area.
Council: I’ll have to go to speak to someone and call you back.
I await that call hugely.
The call reminds me of one I shared with Orange Internet’s “technical help” line when I worked in France. We kept having our internet cut and I enquired as to whether we were hitting a download limit.
Apparently there were no limits… but we were downloading too much. So what was the limit so that we could avoid downloading too much? There are no limits. But there must be otherwise why is the internet being cut? Because you’re downloading too much. OK, so how much is too much? What’s the limit? There is no limit.
That conversation went on for fifteen minutes. FIFTEEN. I have witnesses.
And we never did find out what the limitless limit was.