Autumn rain and sogginess are so extensive, that the area below the beds in the field is a mud-bath, making it difficult to get the barrow through when emptying horse muck. Some days, it’s eerie and desolate with not a soul about.
Away from the ranch things have been hectic and sad – I’ve been struggling to get up there for more than a couple of hours at a time, so it’s just a case of tackling the basics – emptying the muck midden, seed collecting, dividing and planting up native wild plants and so on.
Now is the time to plan for next year. The lads in the bottom allotments are organic too and we’re going to get together and come up with a schedule to decide what each of us will try and grow.
I’ve threshed the rye by putting it in a groundsheet and whacking it on the floor then rolling it with my feet. There’s about a kilogram – a least a tenfold return on the small packet of seeds that it came from. I have enough to plant about 10 square metres. Despite the labour intensity of it, I think it’s worthwhile persevering with growing grain. I’m still only using a fraction of the field.
There’s nothing happening with the projects – finishing the greenhouse, building new beds and so on. Despite the October drizzly fug though, things are a bit different this year. Not for the first time, I made a resolution on my birthday – a plan. I’m documenting the year as it unfolds – volume 2 so to speak.
This time I have to do it in real time as I go along. That means getting back into a steady writing routine. I’ve already written the first chapter and it’s clear that the second book will be grittier than the first, taking in Brexit and its sequel. We’ve already had a family bereavement and there have been a few dark incidents so it won’t be as whimsical as the first tome. One of the goals is to get organised with the gardening and at least double the produce and income from the land. A bird flew into a window leaving a faint Turin Shroud-like impression. You can even see the individual fibres of the feathers.
What’s obvious is that the work required to make the ranch productive, is more than one person can do. Thankfully more involvement from friends and family is on the horizon. In particular my artistic whirlwind friend Jon Mitton is on board. One of his many talents is film-making. We’re both obsessed with the health benefits of a clean locally-grown diet and that’s one of the things I’ll be exploring in the book. He’s making an episodic film which echoes the chapters of the books.
We’re sharing resources. He’s decided that it’s a good idea to film me sitting in the chair and talking – we roughly plan the topic of the episode then talk about it – I try and condense it into a brief spiel. He’s behind the camera and I’m talking to him. It wouldn’t work if it was just me. In my eyes, I look and sound like a nasal whining snivelling twat, but I’m going with the flow – right out of my reclusive comfort zone. He also insists on doing promo things in the films that I’m uncomfortable with, but he wisely points out that there’s no point writing books and making records if we can’t sell the fuckers.
The second episode was supposed to be about the cultural influence of the punk movement and the fact that growing your own food and DIY music are equally valid parts of the philosophy. I ended up talking mainly about the early days of NOTSENSIBLES. He’s done a good job.
A whole bunch of us have reached a certain age where we aren’t spring chickens any more and inevitably we’re no longer invincible or immortal. Have we really been friends for forty years? Fuck – elder stateswomen and men of punk – how drole. What unites us is the teenage-hood that brought us all together, which of course was completely encapsulated in the local punk movement. I’m realising how utterly fresh and visceral it was and how its influence has suffused so much art since. It’s the antithesis of so much insipidly dull bourgeois bilge that bombards us from every screen these days.
On Friday night Louise, Jon and I went to the Trades to see Screech Rock and it was ace – yet more of our punk legacy with Ticker on guitar and Mog and Lindsey singing. I haven’t danced in ages – such a warm friendly atmosphere with loads of cool un-inhibited people. Jon filmed it. I was at the side of the stage with a second camera and Jon was up in the gallery. Mog and Lindsey had done a fantastic job, making the most outrageous spacey fluorescent costumes.
Yesterday Casey came over and we spent the day photographing people for our 40 year on project which is called Sick of Being Normal – Pendle Punk 40 years on. She’s a brilliant photographer. She has a wonderful eye for light and space and a fantastic ability to put people at ease – particularly people like me and Spider who are very uncomfortable being filmed.
It was a wonderful day. We started by going up to Spider’s. She had him standing in the middle of the road with the sensational view over the council estate and town in the background. It was cool as fuck having a tall striking American taking photos in the middle of Brunshaw. We went to Ruth’s and Spider came with us. Casey excelled, capturing Ruth perfectly against her purple back wall, with her white cat on her lap.
We walked across two streets to Helen’s – she’d been at the Trades too and had partied back at Annie’s until the small hours. We had a brew whilst she got ready and the day became even more sociable.
Finally, me, Ruth, Spider and Casey drove to Heptonstall to Ticker’s and that was the icing on the cake. It would take a full book to describe Ticker. For a start, he’s literally a punk encyclopaedia – he could fill a three-storey museum with his artefacts. Of course he’s a star character in the first book. He was on top form – his razor sharp wit is difficult to describe.
‘Move your chin down a bit.’ Said Casey as she photographed him against a khaki green panel van.
‘Which one?’ He replied, quick as a flash.
Casey got me, Ruth, Ticker and Spider to stand against the bottom wall of the playground with the stunning view of Hebden and the valley with all it’s Autumn palette behind us.
‘Yelp’ said Ticker – ‘The new Beatles album cover’.
The day gave me an overwhelming desire to spend more time with these wonderful folk and do more stuff. Maybe I’ll turn the ranch into a punk rock farm? We’ll all have our own caravans (or trailers as Lindsey and Peach call them) and Ruth can drive the Land Rover. Our punk project is pretty damned exciting – all part of a quiet revolution.