Fri 13th December 2019:

I’m just back from the ranch and I’m soaked. Really soaked. I had four days without going up which is most unusual, so I felt obliged to go today, despite relentless cold torrential rain.

I walked through the park to try and get some flab off. I watched a dipper flitting alongside me along the river and spotted a lime green golf ball in the water.

Five barrow loads of horse muck greeted me and after the third load, I was struggling as the barrow wheel sunk deep into the slutchy mud. The family of crows were bickering and it was ever so so grey grey grey and squally wild as I walked round the field.

More mud

I should have gone yesterday but I didn’t feel like it. Instead, after a couple of morning chores I had an ultra-slob-out and I watched both series of Derry Girls back to back on the magic computerised television. I never watch telly. It’s Erin Devlin’s fault – she recommended it. I can see how she and the other two other-ranch Derry Girls relate to the telly Derry Girls. Common to both is an Erin, a Quinn and a Devlin and there’s even a token English person although Hornshaw is infinitely cooler than James could ever be, so it all fits, but our Erin sees more of Orla in herself. I just wanted some complete escapism and it did the trick.

Highlights? Maybe when Orla is doing her step-dance at the school talent show and the bitch from the back seat of the bus incident says ‘She’s such a dick.‘ Erin leans forward and taps her on the shoulder saying ‘Yeah, she might be a dick, but she’s my dick.’ Then Clare looks across at Erin and says ‘Actually, she’s our dick.’ Then they all run up onto the stage and all five Derry girls are dancing together. It’s a solidarity thing. Sister Michael, watching from the side of the stage doesn’t say a word but the minute facial movement and impeccable expression says it all. Meanwhile a bomb has gone off and killed twelve people and there’s that juxtaposition between that unbreakable bond between comrades and the apocalyptic – it’s  here. As Michelle says in another episode, ‘It’s a state of mind.’ I’ll never forget supporting The Undertones at The Russell Club – they were nice to us.

Obvs, this has nothing to do what’s happening in the UK or Burnley. I remember seeing a documentary of Hitler’s rise. It was the time when his storm-troopers had started killing people in the streets and Hitler denied that he had any association with them. A very clever lawyer took Hitler to court and had him squirming in the dock – lying through his teeth. Needless to say, the lawyer was whacked not that long after.

I’m surprised at our short-sightedness. What happened in living memory in places like Sarajevo and Kosovo and even Londonderry could never possibly happen in blighty.

I feared that the scales had tipped irrevocably towards totalitarianism long ago but had hoped to be proved wrong. Billionaires have literally unlimited resources and the power of the rich man’s monster media machine in the digital age has trumped.

Dawn and co
Live recording

On a brighter note, back in 1980 our local punk movement was in full swing and we were all so politically naive that none of us gave a shit. Scruffs, radicals, poor kids who had nothing else going on flocked to an all accepting wild and exciting scene.

Then it fizzled out. Except it never did. It filtered through all our lives into art, music and all things benevolent involving helping others – doctors, nurses, teachers, women’s refuge managers and so on. It’s all there still and has filtered into the younger generation in the shape of grime, rap, drum & bass and so on.

So we’re celebrating – we’re having a do. Folk from back in the day (2 Notsensibles + more) + cool disc jockeys (Ticker le punk, Trash Manor Annie & Peach, Moz) + Screech Rock + grime artist MeLeon. It will be good. Come on down. Full details and tickets on sale next week. Spread the word – details here.

Our original venue fell through so now we’re having it upstairs at Burnley library. At first I thought ‘A punk gig in a library?’ But then someone said ‘That’s punk as fuck’ and I think they’re right.

Once again, Burnley has its own little creative rising creative buzz and our little music projects are coming on a pace. The first time that Dawn came round a few months ago, we spent ages trying to do Betty Wright’s Clean up Woman. It was a bit over-ambitious – it’s a difficult song to play. After we’d finished it, and things were more relaxed, we had a go at Shoorah Shoorah which is easier. We ran through it a few times then recorded it. I like my little recording set-up – there was the vocal condenser mic, one drum mic then a mic each for the bass and both guitars. I’d completely forgotten that Louise had filmed the last take – here it is.

My friend Gwen and I are doing a pop-up vegan night at Jim’s cafe in Colne, Sat 22nd Feb and I’m organising the music – I’m thinking a bit of rockabilly + MeLeon has agreed to play – I’m really looking forward to backing a rapper with a band.

Localisation versus globalisation – our quiet little home-grown scene gathers pace.

Notsensibles, Borough pub, Burnley 1980. Photo courtesy of Burnley Express - Burnley Civic Trust


6.29 am. Sat 14th Dec

I couldn’t sleep. I’m up early. Yesterday was kind of day one. I had a kind of stifled joy which is weird. It came from the sense that time has somehow run out, and it really is time to get rid of the crap and move on. Home-grown soul-food and stomach food is having its day.

On Wednesday night we (the A&E consultants where I work) went out for a meal at a veggie place in Didsbury, which was impeccably organised by Hornshaw – we all ordered a set menu in advance.

‘Er – what did I order mother?’ ‘You ordered mushroom pancakes, feta pie and sticky toffee pudding Hartley.’

I’m still plagued with imposter syndrome – part-time old cunt etc etc, but maybe I do belong after all. I’m organising our monthly meetings which feels worthwhile and I’ve been devouring nerd videos on film-making in anticipation of making our recruitment film.

Some places offer golden handshakes, but not us – it’s not our style. We’re a close-knit bunch and we have more than enough merit: two professors; research director of one of the world’s most influential Trauma research networks; soon to be Europe’s biggest Major Trauma Centre – it’s a long list. The biggest thing though is that we get along just swell – we’re a bit eccentric – a bit rad – we think outside of the box. Did I mention that we have the only consultant in the UK to have done a Peel session? Thought not.

I feel privileged to work in one of the best emergency departments in the country.

It’s similar weather to here in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia in winter - 1
Philadelphia in winter - 2