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The Phantom Tree-Slayer of Deepest Surrey

April 20, 2021

In our serene little Surrey town, far from the maddened crowds of the big city, nothing noteworthy ever happens. Generally speaking, the crime rate around here is pretty low. Plenty of burglaries, but knifings and shootings are not common. But suddenly, we have been woken from our somnolence by a very different curse: the Phantom Tree-Slayer.

Over the past few days someone has been scooting around our streets with a chain-saw in their trunk. They pop out of their car, take a tree down and drive off at speed. Nobody has been able to identify them. So far they’ve accounted for twenty trees, which they leave at the crime scene. The outrage has even merited a mention in London’s evening newspaper, The Metro.

The reaction has been predictable. Who is this maniac, and if they can go for trees, will humans be next? Is this a precursor to an Elmbridge Chainsaw Massacre? Messages have been pinging around on our residents’ WhatsApp group. A couple of nights ago I was on my patio and heard what sounded like a chainsaw. My wife posted this information on WhatsApp immediately. By all accounts, a posse from the street went forth to investigate and found nothing. The atmosphere is febrile – the most excitement since the local hospital burned down, or possibly since a group of travellers set up camp in the car park belonging to the local train station.

I do wonder what motivates the perpetrator. Has someone on the council upset them? Do they have a grudge against tree-huggers in general, and Greta Thunberg in particular? Are they demented victims of the Brazilian Variant, who in their mania have mistaken Surrey’s temperate trees for a rainforest? Or has lockdown finally sent them over the edge? No doubt all will be revealed in the course of time, unless of course the case of the Phantom Tree-Slayer ends up as one of the great mysteries of our borough. In which case I shall be the first to organise Tree-Slayer tours for visitors who will no doubt come from far and wide to visit the crime scenes. For which I will be handsomely paid, naturally.

Until the case is solved, no doubt the good people of my neighbourhood will be keeping vigil behind their front doors, alert to the sound of a chainsaw, and ready to repel the invader with axes, cricket bats and 7-irons. Quite right too. You can replace burgled stuff pretty quickly, but trees take longer, and they’re not covered by insurance.

Personally, I think the aliens have arrived. Would it not be an irony if they thought that trees were a higher form of life than us humans, and therefore more worthy of their attention? And they may have a point. After all, who would you prefer to talk to if you’d just arrived on the planet: scruffy, smelly humans snuffling around the ground, or majestic oak trees standing stoic, resolute and seemingly eternal?

Going back to reality, it’s not funny, and it’s continuing to happen. Last night, several more trees came down. The police, according to the Metro story I linked above, are on the case. That’s very decent of them, considering how overburdened they are as they chase COVID violators around the local parks.

I, meanwhile, shall return to the business of trying to be sociable until the next lockdown arrives. I think I’ll join the tree patrol. More when I have it on this unpleasant tale.

From → Social, UK

  1. Guess I should have written sooner? Prompt response appreciated!

    Twofer, even more so, though the news is sad.

    • Good to hear from you. By which I understand that you got the acknowledgement quickly, which is good. Nothing to do with me, but worth noting that for a while all the comments to my blog pieces ended up in my junk mail. A conspiracy between Microsoft and WordPress, you might think…

      • Was there nothing from you between Marie Kondo and London after Lockdown?

  2. Sadly not. A bit of a fallow period. Spent most of my time at the municipal dump…

  3. No doubt a fruitful way to use your time. Did you manage only to leave “stuff” or were you beguiled?

  4. By all the used bicycles and lawnmowers, yes, but unfortunately the store is closed because of COVID. But dumps are fascinating places. The things people throw away….

  5. yes. indeed.
    My Uncle furnished our house when they first moved into the town I was (eventually) born in at the dump. Another used finds from there to create all sorts of decorative pieces, from small buddhas to lamp bases.

  6. That’s interesting. I’m afraid nothing really decorative reaches our dump, and besides it’s policed by people who don’t let us get near it. The French do this better. They have wonderful shops selling what they call brocante. You will also find brocante stalls at local outdoor markets. How I miss France!

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