At work we do tests of change. It’s a common sense  way of trying out new ways of working to see if we can improve efficiency. My ranch test of change is to set myself a list of two or three jobs before I go up, then just do them and come home instead of vaguely farting about doing nothing much in particular.

The winter-long hedge pruning is a task of gentle husbandry. The end result is a very tidy wind-break providing security, hazel and willow garden canes, firewood, rosehips, sloes and organic material for Hugel beds and mulch.

On three separate occasions when using my scythe, people have offered to lend me their strimmers. Each time, I point out that a scythe is quicker and more efficient than a strimmer and even beats the heftier two-handled brush-cutter. It also matches a petrol driven hedge cutter. They never ever believe me. The combination of well-maintained shears, loppers and a scythe and the ubiquitous fuel of belly flab is preferable to the hassle of getting petrol, farting about with green plastic string and the noise and Dupuytren-forming vibration. I bought a brand new strimmer/hedge-cutter when I bought the field, but gave it to Dewy when I got the scythe.

After every session, I sharpen and oil everything so the process is self-sustaining and overhead free. Old engine oil and a rag is perfect. Choosing the right tools and looking after them properly is at the heart of all craftsmanship (it should be craftpersonship theses days).

Hedge cutting gear

I re-planted the rye after the crows quaffed the last lot. It was late afternoon and the light was fading. I thought they might have gone to bed but no – I heard a ‘crawk’ and there was one watching me from the top of a tall tree on Linda’s allotment as if to say ‘Ha, I’ve seen you – we’ll just wait until the seed has absorbed some moisture and is nice and juicy, then we’ll come and nick it again.’ Let’s see if the fleece keeps them off.

I keep thinking I’ll find some like-minded companions who share my clean food passion, but I’m still waiting. The hillside is often eerily quiet – even at weekends. Just me and the trees is fine. Little and often. I’m planting loads of trays of native wild seeds with the notion to up my market gardening game next season.

There’s quite a bit of good research about diet and health around. Fat intake and heart disease is a good example. The revolution in plant-based diet seems to be growing exponentially. There’s an ever increasing amount of vegan stuff in the supermarkets. Part of my interest is linked to what I can actually grow, but my biggest interest is with my medical hat on – food as medicine. I’d like to see some good studies, following vegans over several decades and comparing their health profiles to those on conventional western diet. I’m still sceptical of some areas of veganism – there’s some downright patronising evangelicalism in places and there’s an element of bourgeois privilege. Let’s not forget that people who are starving will eat f’ing anything. My dad’s generation often went hungry and a rabbit or a trout was a major boon.

Rye bed
Rye bed protected with fleece

Rock and Roll:

I interviewed Spider for the Sick of Being Normal – Pendle punk 40 years on project. We’ve been friends a long time and we both have a scathing disregard for parliamentary politics. I’m fully convinced that a bunch of unimaginably rich trillionaires  control the global corporations who in turn control the majority of governments. Parliamentary politics seems largely to serve their interests and often seems like a Punch and Judy shit-show to entertain the plebs without changing much.

Working for the NHS sort of gives me a political neutrality – I can just say ‘This is the magnificence of human achievement that selflessly looks after so many. Observe how it works and how it’s funded and vote accordingly.’ Only those rich enough to pay for private medicine would not vote for it, but guess what? Private medicine only covers a relatively small section of healthcare needs and there are certainly no private emergency departments. If there were, who would staff them? Not me or any of my colleagues – that’s for sure. There’s a private hospital close to us and guess where they send their patients when things go wrong and they don’t have the resources? Do they pay us an appropriate private fee for our services that we can then plough back into the NHS? Do they fuck.

View next to stable


This time it’s different – a slightly crumpled not particularly brilliant leader has created a revolution and the Tories are shitting themselves – he is the only one since the 1940s to genuinely represent the interests of the under-dog – he is the only one who will stop the selling off of the NHS for profit to the orange moron – if he wins, he will challenge their invincible profiteering stance and they don’t like it one bit – they’re pouring millions into smirching him. All pretence of impartiality has gone – they are even doctoring BBC footage to make poltroontard look like less of a buffoon during his disastrous TV appearances. Apathy and indifference is getting a kicking and young people are registering to vote in their droves – it will be interesting.

Native wild seeds
Teasel head

We’re rehearsing for our gig on Friday in Hebden Bridge. It’s amazing that Gaz and I are still playing together after all these years – for obvious reasons, playing Notsensibles songs comes naturally. The two we played last week went down a storm so we’ve learned two more to do next week. They have their own natural energy and are fun to play.

I still can’t believe that I have cool American friends. Keeping in touch with them, so far away, seems such a novelty. Boff’s niece Emma and I are in regular contact – she’s a multi-talented actor, comic, singer, dancer – she makes me sick. Not only that, unlike many gobshite over-talkative yanks, she gets Northern UK black humour. She knows more Withnail quotes than I do and is perfecting lots of UK accents – we’re planning a dance routine for a music vid when she next comes over. It’s based on Rita and Fred’s Shorty George routine. We’ve also got some ideas for sketch shows. Here we are doing Notsensibles The telephone Rings again a while back.

Gaz & Eamonn & stray cat