The Ranch –
It’s Sunday and I’m on the ranch. The laptop is on the workmate and the stove is lit. We’ve had days of torrential rain and the ground is soaked and all the water tanks are full – no more water worries for this season.
The Solstice last week marked the end of a long weird heady spring, where at the beginning of lockdown, the town was silent, the roads were empty, as nature seemed to thrive more than ever before.
Now the days are getting shorter, the weather has turned and it’s almost a new phase where more focus takes over from weeks of drifting through the heady sunshine. It’s also a turning point in terms of self-sufficiency in that there’s enough veg for all our family needs – kale, peas, courgettes. Thanks to Alex, the greenhouse is nearing completion.
The garlic is disappointing – the bulbs just haven’t filled out – probably due to a long dry spell early in the season. All the gardening nerds that I follow on social media seem to be doing so much better than me – things are always behind up here because of the harsher environment – it’s a different kettle of fish to darn sawf.
There’s trouble on th’ill and we’re having an Allotment Association meeting next Sunday. We formed the association years ago in order to be able to buy the land – it provided the necessary legal framework. We have a little rule book which is basically common sense. The trouble always comes from the same bunch of allotments which are rented out by absent landlords. We tried to ban sub-letting, but it’s almost impossible to enforce.
The latest instalment could almost be an episode of Shameless – there’s a missing person, inquisitive police and horses which should never have been brought onto the hillside in the first place.
The van has gone. It’s not here any more. The lean-to somehow seems empty without it tucked into the corner. It was my little hidey-hole. My little den.
Last Wednesday, we cleared a space between the plant stands and demi-shed A and opened the gates onto the track and with some difficulty drove it off – it took all our strength to open the bottom gate enough – it’s stiff because of a thick ivy stem. Despite being here for several weeks, it started as soon as petrol was pumped into the carbs.
We’d spent the afternoon getting more plants ready to take to The Golden Lion in Tod. We drop the camping stuff off at the house and we’re off – on the road again. It’s noisy and rattly, but it’s running fine. It’s the kind of vehicle that generates anxiety. There’s always that fear based on multiple past experiences of breaking down. All the carburettor upgrade parts have arrived – there’s no turning back now.
It’s fine, handling the winding road comfortably. We pass the house where I was born and soon pull up outside The Lion. ‘What do you think?’ I say to Gwen (her first time in a VW split). ‘Noisy’ she says, ‘but OK.’
Gig is as kind and as hospitable as ever. Always enterprising, she’s turned the pub into a little mini-market. She’s sold a lot of plants which is a big thrill. We haven’t even worked out the cost of seeds, compost, pots, transport etc but it’s a step in the right direction.
I wrote a song about Tod (as a metaphor for going back to my roots man). Gig is fond of it and always asked me to play it when I played there – it seems so long ago that live music was everywhere.
Walk me along the old Burnley Rd, take me to Todmorden … … they have a sign that says kindness and the wonderful Golden Lion.
It’s called The Guest House after Rumi’s exquisite poem, which was introduced to me by my American friend Emma – I never got round to recording it, apart from a mediocre demo
We head on to Hebden and have a Mexican takeaway – it’s busy and all the bins are overflowing. We sit by the river. There are lots of ducks, but no ducklings. We get the inevitable comment from a bloke in the car park ‘I bet that’s worth a bob or two’.
I don’t care what anybody says, but people in towns like ours are brought up inherently, often covertly, racist – we were all guilty at school. What was different for us (= me, Boff, my brother, Notsensibles and the entire local punk movement) was that we had a friend who happened to be one of the first Asian immigrants. He had a giant presence amongst us with his utterly irreverent wit and sense of humour (second only to mine) – he played in Chimp Eats Banana and drove around fast and furious – on one of his visits from the US, he said to Boff ‘You drive like an old woman man’.
Our friendship meant that probably semi-subconsciously, we addressed racism amongst ourselves a lot earlier and comprehensively than most other Burnley people.
We became good friends at school and the bitch has remained my soulmate despite thousands of miles of separation (he moved to America in the early eighties). We still share a love of Rock & Roll and messing with old vehicles, except he’s much better at it than me – he’s always doing up cars and has actually built a hot-rod from scratch.
Burnley once again has done itself proud by augmenting it’s miserable right-wing history with a plane-flight over the Etihad (Arabic for ‘union’ or ‘together’) stadium when Burnley played Man City last week. The plane, hired by a local peanut-brained moron thicktard was towing a banner saying All white lives Matter – Burnley.
It’s a bit different when it’s your own town – there’s a deep sense of shame and embarrassment. It goes without saying that the cunt goes straight onto The Register. The police don’t think that his behaviour constitutes incitement of racial hatred, so aptly they are complicit in the deeply ingrained problem. This is Burnley pricktard – not Manchester, not Liverpool, not London – we know where you live and karma is on your doorstep. It’s entirely appropriate that the Yaxley-Lennon arse-kisser and his racist girlfriend lose their jobs.
For every moron thicktard racist, there is hopefully at least one clear-sighted person.
In a similar vein, it’s no longer possible to criticise the appalling treatment of the Palestinians by The apartheid state of Israel, without being labelled anti-Semitic. There is no longer a viable opposition to the right-wing government. Starmer is a Zionist Blairite shill getting rid of anyone who doesn’t agree with him. Scary times. Surely there’s an opening for an ordinary people’s party?
Like many of my colleagues, my antibody test is negative. Our (the boys) office is jokingly christened The COVID office because three of the five of us have had symptoms and two have tested positive. I’ve been in their COVID fug and in close contact with symptomatic people, yet I’ve had nothing. I’m still adamant that an outdoor lifestyle has a protective effect.
I arrived at work last week on the hottest day of the year, before the weather broke. There are two pairs of shorts on the coat hooks – a large baggy white pair (clearly belonging to Bruce) and a smart green pair (probably belonging to Thomo or Dan). I myself am sporting an off-beige light khaki trouser which is most uncharacteristic for me – I don’t wear light clothes, they automatically attract bird shit and any dark stain. The sight of the shorts tickles my oblique sense of humour and I comment that I’m calling the fashion police. Thomo points out that I’m the one to be seen on a promo video topless, driving a tractor, wearing a scruffy pair of old shorts and that I’d get arrested if I walked through the department like that.
The fashion police arrive a short time later and I beat a hasty retreat.