I forfeit my usual trip up the mountain in favour of heading north from the top of the lake.
Up the green sloping hillside between giant oaks into high hill woods.
Into an old Victorian walled garden, where volunteers have refurbished at least some of the beds.
I start at the bottom and scrutinise every inch, including the potting shed.
It’s overgrown in a lot of places but here and there, there are successes. Some big fat peas. Blackcurrants.
It’s another high-up secret garden a bit like mine. Deserted and lonely, where the onslaught of weeds is relentless and outstrips the ability of the well-meaning to keep on top of them.
I’ve come on holiday by mistake.
Once a year, I try and get away to my favourite place. The same campsite. The same pub. The same table. The same mountain. I am such a crushing bore. Why don’t you try somewhere different?
I came because I suddenly got sick of gardening. Weary to the bone of the abject aloneness of it all. I should be jumping with joy and celebrating. I saw it all coming over 30 years ago and prepared accordingly. What would you do if you knew that they would take away everything? Food, water, fuel, health, livelihoods.
People said ‘It’s a waste of time trying to grow food round here when you can just get if from the supermarket?’
I said nothing but thought ‘which particular part don’t you see yet?’
That was then and now is now and here it is in precise detail exactly how I said it would be.
Yet I am suddenly exhausted by it all. Wracked and harrowed. Out of kilter. Unable to solve the disconnect between growing the food and getting it out there. I’m good at a lot of stuff but not everything. I can’t do it all on my own any more.
Out of the garden and up up up. It’s almost as steep as the mountain. Heavy ancient woodland. I hear a chainsaw in the distance but apart from that, it’s just me and the trees. As usual.
The reward at the top is the stunning view of the tarn. Created by rich Victorians to improve their view, from a time when it was fashionable for them to create giant pastoral landscapes.
It lashes with rain and my descent into the village – about two and a half miles – is swift.
It’s not the same this year. There’s a sign outside my favourite pub saying ‘card only’. I go in anyway and pretend I haven’t seen it. I remonstrate politely with the landlord. He explains that they shut the bank last year, so it’s an hour’s drive to the nearest big town. It’s too wet to sit outside at my favourite table. I have one pint and say goodbye. I don’t go back. There are other pubs. The other thing that they’ve done is put locks on the public toilets, with swipe cards that steal 50p when you go in. Need a shit? That will be 50p and will be recorded electronically. Fuck off.
The campsite is quieter than I’ve ever seen it and again it’s not the same. Normally there are a few of us – me and my lads, but it’s just me this time. My usual chariot for the last 10 years has been my old VW split screen van – perfection itself for gentlemanly camping. The van became like the garden – just too much to keep on top of. It needed vast amounts of welding and lots of restoration. Again, I couldn’t do it all on my own, so I traded it (packed with years worth of collected spares) for a shiny modern one. ‘Don’t sell it’. they said. ‘We’ll help you’. They said.
The new one is nice and is the result of years of research. It’s smooth, comfortable, nippy, economical. In the back it’s a blank canvas to develop as an all-purpose vehicle. I went to the camping shop and bought a luxury self-inflating mattress and a new sleeping bag. Still it’s not the same. I’m sad, and I don’t sleep. All the demons creep out in the night. I’m beyond sad. I’m grieving.
The second night it rains torrentially and I don’t sleep again. At least the plants will be watered. I thought that a trip to my favourite place might cure my melancholia but it doesn’t. Everything is changing.
I’m back home in two hours and straight up to the ranch. It’s more overgrown than ever. Just picking the raspberries – they’ve spread exponentially – takes 2 hours and I don’t enjoy any of it any more.
I read a thing by a Hopi chief about the spirituality of everything and get comfort from it. More and more I’m exploring that side of things. The cycles of the moon and tides and so on. Women living in nature naturally synchronise their periods to the cycles of the moon. What exactly would the witchfinder ungeneral do if he found a witch?
I gave the plants sales a good go and they were successful in their own small way. Nevertheless it’s a vast amount of work for miniscule profit. Again, I can’t do it all on my own. I tried a social media advert and that was partially successful, but people didn’t turn up when they said they would and I was uncomfortable.
I do what I always do in times of doubt and go onto automatic pilot and remember the bigger picture. I empty the horseshit – ten barrowloads. Water the main allotment. Harvest the first potatoes (they’re scrawny and the ground is rock hard bone dry). Plant out beetroot and Florence fennel. Prepare an area for concreting.
I’m in disconnect – missing a jigsaw piece. There’s something in the collective psyche that senses what’s coming. Cheer up grumpy.
Mog comes and helps pick raspberries. We check on the greenhouse and compare a nearly-ripe gnarly tomato to a baboon’s arse. We’ve already commented on the firmness of the developing nuts on the hazel trees. No amount of smut phases the witch-bitches.
I’m literally a bow and arrow shot from where Shameless was written.
My mum and dad were ordinary.
I served an old-fashioned engineering apprenticeship then became a doctor.
I walk along Parliament street past the heavy drinkers outside the offie. I pass a couple with a baby. The girl is pushing the pram and the lad has a can in one hand and a spliff in the other.
I’m not being judgemental. The point I’m making is that it’s not possible for someone like me to be a conspiracy loon. I’m entrenched in ultra-pragmatism. The punchline of my book is Above all be kind but I just can’t help my irascible true nature.
My storytelling naturally continued from the book into these posts. The arrival of the pandemic was coincidental.
I tried to steer the middle ground and present the facts one by one, backed up by my two science degrees and my experience of working through the pandemic as a senior Emergency Medicine consultant. I might as well talk to myself. The awake are already awake and nothing will convince the hypnotised.
I told you who Pfizer were and what they’d done in the past.
I told you about mRNA technology and how it was brand new in humans meaning NO LONG-TERM SAFETY DATA WHATSOEVER and therefore no informed consent.
I told you about immune escape.
I told you about Antibody Dependent Enhancement.
I told you about the unexplained excess deaths.
I told you about the horrific, largely unreported, adverse events and deaths.
I told you that giving an unlicensed immune-modifying medication to children who had no risk from the illness was a serious crime. Their immune systems are in development.
I told you how the spike protein knocked off a crucial part of the ‘fight it off at the door’ immune system.
Inevitably, the latest variant strafes the vaccinated preferentially and still people don’t see it. Sadly this is just the tip of the iceberg. Two years is nothing in medical science.
I wanted so much to be wrong and skulk off to my trees in embarrassment and shame.
Down the Rabbit Hole
and in the latest episode of Punch and Judy for the peasants the grotesque slobbering porky buffoon has been ousted by his back-stabbing prick mates, soon to be replaced by an even bigger cheek of the same arse.
Behind the smokescreen, how many people know what’s happening in Holland?
The farmers have revolted en masse, blocking all the borders backed up by the fishermen blocking the ports. The country is locked down. A lot of our food comes from Holland. Neighbouring countries are coming out in solidarity.
In Sri Lanka poor starving people are hunting down rich people and slaughtering them.
What’s the significance of the Georgia Guidestones?
How come none of this is covered by our mainstream media?
Rock and Roll
I’m always on about threads of serendipity.
Last time I told the tale of the school kids coming to the ranch. I mentioned that Gary, the other teacher who came with Gill, had the misfortune of being our next door neighbour for many years, suffering the endless onslaughts of noise coming from our house. I could easily blame my kids, but most of the noise was mine – either ranting and raving or loud music.
What I didn’t mention was that Gary and his brother also had a band. They were called Ring Ring Rouge and at the time, they had a bit of success and were quite good.
Gill invited me back to the school. I went yesterday. I took my scythe, a pair of shears, my 60s Voix de son maitre record player, my Gretsch and my 5 watt amp. Again, I have nothing prepared. Gill and Gary show me the vast area at the top of the school – a beautiful big airy modern building. They also have a big polytunnel and a big garden and the potential is vast – the whole area could almost be a small school in its own right.
We do a bit of scything with the boys and I show them the record player and the amp. Superficially, they are nonchalant and disinterested. I ask them what their least favourite subjects are. ‘Science and maths’. I try and explain that everything that we’re doing – the gardening, the record player, the electric guitar are all based on science and maths. Something about these sweet boys struggling with tough lives makes my heart bleed and I realise what a huge part the school plays in giving them support. They like looking after the three chickens that live in the garden. The birds have their own protected big mesh house. They sleep in the polytunnel at night – safe from the foxes. Burnley boys don’t cry – phew.
Back home, I revisit Ring Ring Rouge and realise how good they really are. It turns out Gary is the singer and he’s brilliant.
‘The splendour of the taxis and the takeaways ….’
Our own Rock and Roll is spiky and difficult – just the way it’s meant to be. It’s a sunny Saturday. We’re rehearsing our Notsensibles set for Beatherder next week, then off up to the ranch with refreshments. We’re playing at Trash Manor on Saturday at 1pm – the first version of the album back to back. It’s been a slow start with the usual tomfoolery associated with anything to do with Notsensibles, but now it’s sounding neat – punk as fuck.