Quite suddenly, autumn’s come and it’s going dark at tea-time. The characteristic northern rains and winds are here. The leaves are falling and I’m thinking of lighting the stove. ‘Just put a jumper on.’ says Louise.
For as long as I can remember, we always get a sunny spell in September. This year it was spectacular and unexpected. A basking, balmy week of sultry heat and sunshine – hotter than the rest of summer put together. It was the perfect opportunity to get all the external waterproofing done on my little eco house, and get the foundations dug for the new well/pond (in anticipation of inevitable future dry spells).
Instead, I decided to have a week’s holiday and bask in summer’s glorious dying embers. Where should I go? The two-pound bus to Todmorden is the limit of my conventional travel these days and the horror of planes and trains doesn’t even get a look in. What I really fancied was a private secret garden where I could wander and lounge unfettered – wild and unwild in equal measure. Somewhere to recharge my vitamin D, before the inevitable winter ahead – both literal and metaphorical.
A holiday by my standards means only mixing half a ton of concrete by hand instead of a ton. The watering and harvesting still needed to be done and we did do a bit of work on the house, but come four-o-clock the chilled refreshments came out.
I love Brian’s gratitude video, but my own gratitude is immense for making the choices that I did when I did. All those poor people back at work and school, when it was hot and sunny outside after a shit summer.
At least the last 3 years have woken a few people up. It’s a long time ago that I chose buying land and learning to live outside the chains of the rat race over foreign holidays, dishwashers and golf. How to generate electricity. How to have a clean water supply and so on.
There’s a rustle in the hazels along the bottom of the orchard.
I’m not the only one cracking nuts. The pesky squirrels have finally discovered them. They’ve never been this far down before. They leave tell-tale piles of shells. They also pile up little stores to come and collect later. Fortunately they haven’t found the grove at the top of the field yet.
An old English term for the harvest of trees – acorns, beech nuts, hazel nuts etc is mast. Every few years trees have a bumper crop and it becomes a mast year. It’s nature’s way of ensuring that at least a few seeds have the chance of becoming trees, after the animals have eaten their fill. This year might be one of them. The hazels are dripping and I’ve already gathered loads nuts just from wind drop. They provide valuable additional nutrition, and keep for years.
I have my first proper carrot success, simply by sprinkling last year’s seeds on the garlic and onion beds. I picked pounds of blackberries and made wine.
The magic of nature is such that each year, some things do unexpectedly well and others do unexpectedly badly. It’s all about constant experimentation and observation.
I tried out mulching with hay as suggested by Freddy, my French friend. She told me of a farm over there that mulches with a thick layer of ordinary hay. I really didn’t expect it to work. How come all the grass seeds don’t just germinate? It worked some of the time. It did indeed stop weeds coming through, but as Lisa anticipated, it also provided a cosy hotel for slugs and worms to shelter under. Hence potatoes have done terribly – badly munched and stifled to mouldiness. Beans and other stuff had some initial yellowing then thrived.
The beds in the main allotment and the field have rocketed and I’m eating large quantities of my own food, which has always been the plan. There’s far too much for us and I’m giving a lot away. One day, I’ll get organised and start selling it.
It’s hard to keep on top of, but as ever, I have my eye on the bigger picture.
The latest big excitement is finally getting the branch logger going. I had to make quite a few adjustments to get it to fit on the back of the tractor, but now it’s fitted and it works brilliantly. It chops branches into little logs and also chops up clippings that can be turned into compost. I had a heady day chopping all the branches from last years hedge-pruning, with both tractors put to use.
Firewood and compost are two of my biggest expenses and both have rocketed in price, so it’s a big step forward on the road towards independence. It does however rely on diesel. If that disappears, I’ll just have to rely on solar power for the battery chainsaw and belly flab.
The 3-bin compost system is working well too: a layer of fresh woodchip horse manure; a layer of weeds and a layer of comfrey, thistles and nettles. Once a bin is full, I leave it a few months, then turn it over into an empty bin ready to use. The crux is generating enough heat to kill off all the weed seeds.
I like the notion that everything is energy. It’s a tricky concept to get your head round, but once you get it, it’s very useful. We have a finite amount of energy available to us. Some things drain our energy, and some boost them. Being in certain places can make us feel uneasy and others can make us happy. Likewise with people.
I also like the concept of being able to learn how to manage energy by training the mind. For a lot of people, religion and spirituality provide this. I’m more of a simplist, so my main guide is nature – as above, so below. Nevertheless, some kind of external training is essential because our slippery minds will never give up their crutches voluntarily. The eye cannot see itself and so on. Mine is the meditation that I stumbled on a long time ago.
Hence, the cycles of nature – the full moons and the solstices and the lost knowledge of the ancients, become far more important than the current insane doings of buffoons.
Paradoxically, developing the mind involves getting rid of the debris that shackles it – sweeping away the dust and peeling off the layers of the onion skin.
It sounds smug. It sounds arrogant but it’s actually scary and unsettling. Everything that I saw was true, came true and continues to come true. Naiveté is both my friend and enemy. Despite WW2, Rwanda, Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia and now Ukraine I innocently think that it could never happen here, yet all the day-by-day salami slices of creeping totalitarianism are there for all to see. The common denominator is a bunch of people who fully believe that they are superior to the ‘useless eaters’. They feel that they have the right to exterminate whole swathes of populations who don’t kowtow to their demands and beliefs.
All those weird little tinglings on my head and associated glimpses, visions, call them what you will were true too. It’s no big deal. They’re energy guides that’s all. Lessons in avoiding energy-sucking situations. I comment to Mog one day, that you can either dig down rabbit holes, or dig to grow food.
I learned long ago, that any information coming solely from the media cannot be trusted. These days, social media comprises the majority. Surely it’s the biggest energy sucker of all? It works by providing a narrative and a seemingly underground counter-narrative – a bit like a Punch and Judy show – some people call it controlled opposition. It requires attention, which in turn is energy. It then goes on to create polarisation, hence obliterating any chance of reasonable people revolting by treading common ground. If something is simultaneously pumped out across all media platforms, there’s a 100% certainty that it’s not in the interests of ordinary decent people. Talking about revolution on social media is a bit like saying to the Gestapo ‘Yoo-hoo, come and get me’.
In my old anti-establishment whistleblowing song Letter writer, the first line of the second verse is ‘Histrionic ponce, I told you once.’ It’s self-reflective, but the inspiration came from Russell Brand. I never particularly liked the bloke. The latest media gorging is the perfect example, sucking out vast amounts of people-energy, all spouting their fatuous opinions, which won’t change a fucking thing. What else is going on under the smoke-screen? The government can now publicly order media institutions to silence folk. Fuck them all.
I don’t do conspiracy or bullshit. I’m an ultra-pragmatist. Fate decreed that at the start of the pandemic, I was a consultant working in an Emergency Department, where sick people with Covid presented. The media fear campaign was so well co-ordinated and complete, that sick people with anything else were terrified of coming, and paradoxically, before the backlash, it was the least busy time that any of us had ever seen. It painted the medical profession in a bad light through no fault of their own. There was a lot of secret fear amongst medical staff too, me included. ‘This could kill me.’
In the event, it didn’t. In fact, despite constant heavy exposure, unlike most of my colleagues, I never caught it. Minimal research (I mean proper research, as opposed to internet-dicktard research) revealed that mRNA technology had never before been used successfully on a human population. There was therefore no indication whatsoever for me to take it. Likewise anyone who had natural immunity by catching it. ‘Saving granny’ and ‘preventing transmission and reducing severity’ transpired to be complete bullshit.
Nothing on this earth can change the fact that it’s not possible to give informed consent for any medication that’s rolled out like this, therefore contravening medical ethics and actual law – it generally takes 10 to 15 years before a medication is approved. The simple bottom line is that there were those who trusted the government to stick an untested substance into their arms and those who didn’t.
I get sick of it people saying I’ve lost faith in the medical profession. Are you sick of it when your elderly relative breaks a hip and gets it fixed within 48 hours despite the pressures on the NHS? Are you sick of it when your beloved has a heart attack and gets their coronary artery re-opened and stented within hours? Are you sick of it when your child is cleared of leukaemia due to the marvels of medical science? Try living in America dickwad. These moaners and snivelers get right on my tits.
Of course we have to wake the medical profession up to the horrors of vaccine injury and bereavement (more than any other medication ever!) and other big pharma horrors. It doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bath water. It’s not the doctors and nurses fault. It’s the government fucking them over that’s the problem. That scrawny squirming diminutive insect cunt Sunak makes my skin crawl.
Now the fear-mongering begins again. They have gauged the gullibility or otherwise of the population. All the dissenters are identified by their social media rantings and off we go again. The new jab is being rolled out on the presumption that it’s safe, based solely on its similarity to previous jabs. It’s only tested on a few mice. My heart bleeds. I see people queuing for it and I despair. Privately I’m thinking ‘What has turned intelligent discerning people into fucking morons?’
Whilst we’re at it, electric cars are another bullshit scam. They use far more planetary resources than conventional cars and they don’t last. They need oil-powered electricity to charge them. They can’t be recycled. Ask anyone who owns one if they’ll be buying another. My 60 year old VW bus by contrast is endlessly recyclable.
I’ll pass on climate change this time. The sun is 109 times bigger than the earth. CO2 is the food of trees and the world is full of knobs who can’t interpret clear science. Find the real experts outside the media narrative.
Rock & Roll:
Music has been a constant thread, even as the muse waxes and wanes. Getting gigs and finding an audience gets harder as you get older. I’ve accepted that my ambition to go on tour is unlikely to happen.
Sometimes in life, just the smallest thread of serendipity from the past can rekindle lost enthusiasm. One of Notsensibles’ most memorable gigs was at the Braithwaite Institute just outside Keswick. I met my friend Chris Holden there and as a result visited Keswick every year for several years until he died. I haven’t really been back since. There was a little thriving punk scene there at the time and Darren, a big part of that scene has asked me to play there again. It’s the 16th of March next year and Gary (Notsensibles bassist) and I are trying to get a Notsensibles set together.
We’ve been rehearsing twice a week doing our original material and we’re trying to get gigs. We went to the open mic at The Rodney on Tue and were warmly welcomed and received. There was even a Notsensibles fan there as well as Shadz. We played The Telephone Rings again.
My longest running band, Vincent Black Lightning did hundreds of gigs and a lot of recording. Bass player Lee (also a guitarist) moved to Scotland three years ago. He comes back periodically to visit his folks. He thought he was just popping round for a brew on Friday night. Two hours and several songs later, he had to get up and stretch. That drum stool isn’t very comfortable. He last played drums when he was ten. Ditto on Saturday, after I’d suggested trying to record something. ‘What am I playing?’ He said. The look on his face was priceless. He did fine. Rock steady.
Recording a song live isn’t easy, especially when you’re operating the cameras and tape recorder at the same time. It turned out OK. It’s another old song. It references George Orwell’s Big Brother and contains more predictions that are coming true – spying cameras, digital IDs and so on. Nice.
Absence of Noggins?
The biggest job on the little house so far has been replacing the kitchen roof. I got some help from Sam and Pev, but did most of it myself. I’m obsessed with light, so fitted two skylights, making it very tricky to fit the rubber sheeting on top.
If you just use long pieces of timber on their own for a roof (rafters), they will twist and warp with time. Hence transverse bracing supports, known as noggins are needed. It’s also an old Gaelic word for a small cup or drink and latterly a slang term for head.
My biggest roofing job ever was the lean-to on the ranch, which I did all on my own. It was a complex job – 4.8 metre long rafters. I didn’t bother with noggins, because I didn’t want to disturb the sense of light and space through the clear roof. Inevitably they twisted and warped, stretching the fixings and causing leaks. It’s OK though. Leaks can be fixed and I’d rather have the light.
Babies stop being babies in the blink of an eye, so it’s OK to pick them up and carry them whenever they want, because whatever happens, on the grand scale of things, you won’t be doing it for long. My mum’s best friend died, and amidst flashes of old grief, I converse with her daughter. She talks about her mum’s relationship with her son and along the way, she says ‘You will adore and be adored like never before.’ Not something I anticipated, but she’s right.
It’s Mabon, the pagan festival when the day and night are equal length. It’s a time to reflect back on the year and to let go of certain destructive energies and relationships. It’s poignant for me, because it’s also the time of year when I was born. There are various ways of celebrating it. The usual chores on the wild beautiful secret garden that I made are enough for me. We’re going to a friend’s birthday party later, so it’s a double celebration.