Seriously, see what they’ve done to Virginia Woolf’s tree. “You’re demolishing Virginia Woolf’s tree! Philistines,” I shouted, not that I expected any protest of mine to stop them since they were being employed to do it and my intervention might make things worse for the tree. “We’re tree surgeons.” “Tree butchers more like. You hate trees.” “I like trees,” the one on the ground, in her garden, contended. “That’s why you amputate them. You like gadding about them you mean.” After a bit he stopped smiling to the one aloft who was doing the gadding about and reddened with embarrassment. “Are you happy with what you’ve done.” “I’m content.” “Nobody good could do the ugliness you’ve done to that tree. I hope you fall and break your neck!”
They weren’t just thinning the tree, bad and bad enough; they were amputating every limb. I went round to the owner, Griffon, and on answer to the buzzer, stated, “You’re demolishing Virginia Woolf’s tree. Does the local paper know? the council?”
I was assured by David, the demolisher, it was being done by the book: Conservation approved. “And we know how good this council is at conservation,” I wryly commented, from all the instances of its conservation of nature. None. It was the wall that was being conserved from the tree whose roots were undermining it. The wall after all was man-made and valued, the tree not. It was being 30% reduced. More like 70 once the crown was decapitated. And come spring, I’d see, it would look all right and last another hundred years! There was something of an inherent contradiction in the explanation I was being given. I shouldn’t be surprised if the tree upped and died at the prospect of another hundred years of deformed life, deprived of its own form, having to bear the imprint of man’s will upon it, by its continuance testifying to his, if short-lived, dominance and ‘proof’ of superiority to it, a hapless tree.