Oh, deer! Croydon’s week-long stag party, with a red deer roaming around Park Hill Park like a south London version of the Monarch of the Glen, finally came to an end yesterday, with council officials posting notices to announce the re-opening of the park.
“The deer has now been successfully rehomed at a private non-hunting deer park,” was the message that they wanted to get across.
But has “Jeremy” really gone to the great deer park in the sky?
The local freepaper is dutifully reporting that “Jeremy”, as he had been dubbed by some wag (he is a red deer. And Jeremy Corbyn’s the Labour leader. Geddit?), “…will also enjoy relative privacy: the council has been sworn to secrecy over the exact location of the estate”.
But why the “secrecy”? Has Jeremy told them he is not receiving callers?
A well-placed source at Fisher’s Folly has told Inside Croydon that the outcome might have been quite different, with just enough time for the prime venison to be properly butchered and hung before appearing on the pre-Christmas menu of one of the posher eateries in the “Restaurant Quarter”, and for the sweet meats to be served up at the Town Hall with councillors’ Yuletide sherry.
“The day that they gave it a name probably saved it from the table,” the source said.
“The key thing in all this is that it is a red deer. Had it been a roe deer, then it is very likely that it will have been a wild animal wandering up into central Croydon from the Surrey hills. But red deer don’t live wild around this part of the country – ‘Jeremy’ was almost certainly an escapee from a venison farm in Surrey. There’s dozens of the farms just south of Croydon.
“At this time of year, when the stags are in rut and the hinds are in season, it would only take one bigger, older and stronger stag to make its presence known, and ‘Jeremy’ will have scarpered looking for somewhere quieter and safer. They can travel quite long distances quickly enough,” said our deer-stalking source, who asked to remain under-cover. And down-wind.
“Early last week, railway workers saw it wandering up the line, and they created an opening for it to go into Park Hill Park.
“The council did the only sensible thing it could do, for the safety of the public as well as the animal, and closed it in.
“So ‘Jeremy’ became Croydon Council’s problem. It was clear that it was a farm deer – when council staff went into the park to inspect it and check on its condition, it didn’t spook the animal, which suggests that it was already used to human contact.”
We’re in a rut, we’ve got to get out of it
“Re-homing it at this time of year would not have been straightforward – there’s a red deer herd not far away in Richmond Park, but introducing a new stag to the herd in the midst of the annual rut would not have been easy.
“The simple thing to have done would have been to have it dispatched humanely, and get one of the high-end local butchers to deal with it. There’s no point in being sentimental about it – it is what he was bred for in the first place.
“But once they gave him a name, the council became very worried that the tree-huggers would start a’wailing and a’crying that their poor little children couldn’t sleep because some nasty official had shot ‘Jeremy’ the deer.”
Nevertheless, given that few Croydon residents are likely ever to recognise “Jeremy” in his new home, why all the cloak and dagger over where he has been re-located? And why bother mentioning a “non-hunting” deer park at all, when there are no deer parks where hunting (with hounds) is permitted at all in the whole of south-east England?
“Yes, it is odd, that,” said our sauce, who has asked to be called Juniper.
“It’s almost as if the council doesn’t want anyone to know where ‘Jeremy’ has ended up.”
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