Honey bees on poppy


A fortnight of rain and drizzle gives way to a promising weekend with warm weather forecast.

I always forget what the weather is really like round here in the north-west of England. It rains then it rains some more then it drizzles then it rains some more. Cotton likes damp, hence the massive industry in this corner – weaving sheds everywhere. My dad’s mum was a weaver.

A few days of sunshine (or a few weeks as we had in April to June) and I’m an intoxicated fool thinking that I’m in the Mediterranean and I can grow f’ing lemons.

I often walk up Woodgrove Road and admire the allotments. There are a couple that have giant brassicas and I wonder what I’m doing wrong.

Peas & courgettes are doing well, but the beans are miserable and I have no idea why, as they did brilliantly last year. Even the re-potted tomatoes are yellowing and I wonder whether the batch of organic compost we bought just isn’t that good? We’ve tried mixing with grit sand for better drainage and that doesn’t seem to have made much difference. Ditto with the herbs. The long damp spell might have something to do with it. I am truly not a natural gardener, but we continue to plant regularly in the hope of improvement.

Meanwhile, in the mini-orchard, a lot of apples have dropped off – it’s not just me, it’s happened to quite a few people – it’s to do with the warm dry spring followed by a long spell of wetness. The fruit trees in the main allotment however are doing well. I picked the first semi-ripe fig before the squirrels got it.

Alex has finished the bottom floor of the greenhouse and it’s a real thrill – it has a pair of doors in the side and one in the front. I’ve also finished the latest concrete plinth. I prefer building to gardening tbh. I showed Gwen bottle building last week. ‘You can build your own house now.’

Garlic and Rhubarb on sale at the Golden Lion


Our weekly meandering trips to the Golden Lion in Tod to take our plants to sell continue. Last Thursday we took freshly harvested garlic and rhubarb (the garlic turned out OK after all). Elias came, and we met up with Tyler, the best drummer in the world. Fortunately he fled the vile capital at the beginning of lock-down. Able to work from home, he has elected to remain in the motherland, succoured in the warm bosom of Todmorden.

Matthew too is to return. The pair of them defaulted South a few moons ago to frequent the foul hostelries of London and pursue livelihoods. The Strange will be reunited and Tyler will be available for class Rock & Roll gatherings.

If I were to isolate three main threads from ma vie, they would be farming, music and Emergency Medicine. 120 days or so into living tout seul and music has just not happened. It’s been an absent thread. Now there are murmurings. I spoke to Boff and the film from the Sick of Being Normal event is ready and there’ll be an online viewing. I’ll be writing a little blog for it and there’ll be a playlist of related music. I’ve been playing my guitar a bit too.

In the Lion, WAKA and I chat. He and Gig (wonderfully kind and hospitable as ever), like all hospitality business owners, have really struggled. Thanks to them, the Golden Lion has become an internationally respected music venue but all that is out of the window for the time being. WAKA lost all his deposits on band bookings and the enterprising shop just about keeps things ticking over. They’ve put in a massive amount of effort in readiness for the weekend’s re-opening.

Last week, after a massive effort, they re-opened. A pint is just too tempting.

Nobody has asked me how I achieve social distancing? We have fashioned 1.02 metre hazel sticks, attached horizontally to our noses using jute-string harnesses, hence creating a constant adjacent distance of 2.04 metres. A recent paper in The Fuckwit Fortnightly has intimated that The Virus can be transmitted through farts, so when in vehicles, we have lengths of 6mm fuel pipe up our arses, trained out of the window.

It’s easy to keep up to date thanks to the hordes of social media dicks, who collectively know less than fuck-all about the virus but rant about it anyway. Ticker wisely said last week when Louise and I bumped into him on Hebden flea market ‘Opinions are like arseholes – everyone has one and they all stink.’

First pint in ages at the Golden Lion


Precision engineering

I am reminded of the value of exquisite craftsmanship (actually it’s craftspersonship these days) and precision engineering. I read about the Amish again. I’ve always admired the precise functionality of their furniture and house-building. They grow everything organically and just don’t have the health problems caused by the poisoned food chain, which affects the rest of the world. They say that making things is channelling god. I kind of get the idea – another way of looking at it is to say that making or repairing something to the best of your ability is good therapy. Of all my apprenticeships, if I could only choose one, it would be engineering – it set me up for life, giving me the ability to make and mend just about anything.

The speedo in the van is a rare one. It has a tripometer. I treated myself and got it restored in Germany. It worked beautifully for a while but then the mileage counter stopped working. Send it back to Germany or try and fix it myself? I take it apart and the counter wheel is slipping on the 3mm shaft. I fill the hole with epoxy resin then order a 2.9mm drill online. I shall repair it. It’s a thing of delicate beauty – it’s in watchmaking territory – beyond my ability really, but that’s where I thrive.

I can now go into the field and harvest veg and spuds for a decent meal. I boil the spuds, put a colander on top and steam the veg – just on their own, they taste good, so only minor embellishment is needed and my cooking improves.

We have an Allotment Association meeting and it’s tense at times but amicable. We’ve all appreciated our allotments during lock-down and there’s lots of promise as a bunch of us plan our organic gardening.

VW splitscreen speedo
Plot to plate


The other Ranch

We receive a standby call for a seriously injured man who has had a bad fall. He’s unconscious and agitated. We put out a full trauma call, which means that several people will arrive – anaesthetists; ODPs; orthopods; surgeons.

It’s different at the moment because of COVID. We have to manage the patient in the hot zone because he will require a RSI (Rapid sequence induction) and intubation. This is an Aerosol Generating Procedure i.e. high risk which mandates full PPE for all present. We only have 5 minutes and we quickly don. Normally, the room would be filled with people – often too many. Now, there are just the essentials: me as TTL (Trauma Team Leader); two anaesthetists; an ODP (operating department practitioner); Jen an ED registrar and Diane the ED sister.

As I take the handover from the ambulance crew, the anaesthetic team start preparation for the RSI. Andy, the consultant anaesthetist outside the room plays a crucial role. He tees up the CT scan. The patient is intubated within minutes (using ketamine and rocuronium). He is cardiovascularly stable and we quickly go to CT. We take off our outer aprons and outer gloves before leaving. We move the patient across onto the scanner table, using a trauma mattress. We then have to wait in a small room outside whilst Andy is in the control room observing the patient. The instant he sees the head scan (a serious injury), he phones the neurosurgeons.

Another concrete plinth


Back in ED, Jen and one the anaesthetists doffs, leaving just four of us to manage the patient: arterial line; catheter; fluids and so on. We’re waiting for a critical care bed, where the patient will require intracranial pressure monitoring via a bolt. I’m in there for about 3 hours. Being in full PPE is hot and sweaty, but I quite like it – there’s an air of surreal calm and efficiency about the entire process.

The whole thing is a superlative triumph of teamwork, science and medicine courtesy of the magnificent NHS. Bozo and his vile kleptocracy puppet masters – a bunch of particularly pungent skid marks on the underpants of England – are planning a ‘reshuffle’ of the NHS so they can sell it off to Donny and their vile slimy mates. Will we stand by and watch?

I doff and go back into resusc, where Mags, the night sister howls with laughter at the red hood and mask marks on my face – she did it last time I was in PPE – she said I looked like Kenny out of South Park.

It’s approaching 10pm – Smithy, Umang and I discuss an ECG. With a rate of 150, it could either be sinus tachycardia or flutter with 2 to 1 block. I think it’s the latter. We consider a modified Valsalva manoevre.

Last week Smithy said to me ‘we’re your family’, when I was telling him about a drama at home. I was rather touched. We look after each other at our place. We’re a cool little bunch innit.

Bottom half of greenhouse finished


It’s been a long haul. Days. Months – of living alone. I’m still not used to it. Now the COVID cases in nearby Blackburn and Darwin are the highest in England. The government’s handling of the pandemic remains a shambles.

It’s the sunniest day for ages and it’s Sam’s birthday tomorrow. Fuck it – we’re having a little barbie on the ranch. I almost decided to have an impromptu Sagefest 2 and take all the music stuff up there – the infrastructure – compost toilets etc is still in place from last year but the time isn’t right yet.

This is the weekend when Beatherder would have been on and I recall loading up the van when The Strange played there – five of us; all our camping gear; all the musical equipment and fine foods, ales and wines in our little VW split screen van. Those were the days. Kick out the jams.

The Strange at Beatherder