The Ranch:

There is nothing sweet and tender about these hooligans. They are merciless.

Stealthily, the patriarch eyes track me silently.

He’s in one of his favourite spots in a big tree opposite. From there he can watch me and also my neighbour Chris. He misses nothing. He see’s the corn that Chris puts out for the geese then swoops to eat it as soon as Chris leaves. He knows that there is a newly hatched gosling and he swoops and takes it even when Chris is there. He knows where every bird nests and waits for them to lay their eggs before raiding. He enjoyed a full row of my barley after getting under the netting.

I witnessed a show down in the big birch at the top where a pair of magpies had laid down a few twigs. No chance said crow. Not on my patch. Nature is harsh.

As above, so below? Is there equivalence in the outside world?

Can you see him? He's in that tree


I caught a documentary on radio 4 about repairing stuff – Dare to Repair.

It acted as a catalyst and a reminder. I’ve always repaired stuff, but lately I seem to have lost the knack. That’s precisely why I bought the van – not because it’s an iconic piece of design, not because it was an act of supreme money-guzzling, time-eating folly but because it’s potentially infinitely repairable. When electronic chips run out, I’ll still be able to service and repair it with a handful of tools.

I was reminded that repair is both a physical and a mental (even, dare I say it, an intellectual) process. In the book, I referenced Zen in The Art of Motorcycle repair as an example.

I therefore decided to start using the van again and to carry on the rolling restoration that has been sadly neglected for the last couple of years. I’m using it exclusively during my 2 weeks off.

I oiled all the door hinges and cleaned it out, which seemed to make it run better? 

Van on ranch


There are 2 ways to become a consultant in the UK. The first is the traditional training route, and the second used to be called Article 14 and is now called CESR. Whichever way you do it, you can never quite mitigate the paradox of working in a busy stressful job + trying to study intensively for exams and so on – it’s even more difficult if you have a young family.

Because I have to find the most difficult way of doing anything, I ended up stumbling and lurching through and doing a combination of both. I finally did the Article 14 out of embarrassment because they allowed me to use all my non-clinical time to prepare for it.

Similarly, I’ve been pontificating about doing regular plant sales for ages but never quite seem to get round to it – I have some kind of aversive dyslexia, which seems to throw up excuses at the last minute.

So it was that I told myself If I don’t do it this weekend, I’ll never do it.

Car boot sale


I did manage it and it was a lesson.

The first part was preparing all the plants that I’ve been growing for yonks – picking out the healthiest ones and putting them in trays. I drove the van onto the ranch on Sat aft and loaded it up. That bit was fine, but I miscalculated the angle when reversing off + the track was very wet and muddy.

The front end slid down and the van became wedged firmly across the track. I was stuck. Really stuck.

I walked down to see if Andy was there and fortunately he was. He came up and helped. Sam and Louise came up and Linda (my neighbour opposite) saw that I was stuck and she came and helped. 

The initial plan was to winch the back end up by attaching the block and tackle to the top gatepost, but when I looked in the barn it was gone – someone had stolen it and I hadn’t even noticed. That’s one of the most unsettling things up there – knowing that someone is sneakily breaking in and taking stuff. I’ve noticed other bits and pieces missing too.

Plan B: I got the tractor out with the notion to try and pull the van up the hill. It was Andy’s idea to reverse it into the ranch, where the traction on the concrete hard-standing would be much better. Fortunately Linda had a tow rope and chain. We managed it and the lesson was that I can’t always do it all on my own. Two heads are better than one. Like that bloke  who wrote all those number one hits – it’s clear that collaboration is everything.

Van stuck - tractor to the rescue


After that, I really didn’t feel like doing a plant sale. I went home and had a gin.

On Sunday morning, we managed to get up at 5. I’d persuaded Louise to come and Sam came too. Louise made us a sweet packed lunch and flasks and off we went to Gt Harwood, all 3 of us packed into the front bench seat.

We did OK. The van attracts people – especially blokes – we had lots of conversations about restoration and we sold a few plants. We had 6 punnets of shitake mushrooms and they sold out almost straight away. People asked for strawberries and tomatoes, which we didn’t have – it was a lot of work for not much return, but it’s all a learning curve. Dare I say that it was fun? It’s that Aspidistra flying conundrum again – do what you love for not much money or be trapped unhappily in a rat race? The trick is to make enough to survive and be content with less. I made that choice long ago and am grateful for the happy balance.

Rat woodblock from the book


I’ve been ranting and raving about government corruption, privatisation of the NHS and other injustices long before the pandemic came.

I’m not afraid to speak out when I think something is wrong. In a different time and place, I stood up to an appalling culture of bullying and nepotism that was happening right under our noses. It was a solitary fight. Speaking out immediately places you on a lonely ostracised road, where you can easily be labelled as a complete loon.

I didn’t actually bother with the formal whistleblowing process until right at the end, when I knew I was leaving. I did it in case anything appeared in the press, but it didn’t.

I had no interest in speaking to the press – it’s not my style. I did write about it in the book though. I have a local journalist friend and he asked me if I wanted to talk about it and I just said no. Nobody was that interested. At the time, somebody was releasing stuff to the press and the management people all presumed it was me. It wasn’t. I was offended, because whoever it was wasn’t particularly cohesive or eloquent and they spelled business wrong.

Bluebells in back yard


Likewise with the pandemic. Typically, I’m saying fuck all about nothing in particular over and over again, but I can’t stop myself.

I maintain that people have an irrevocable right to informed consent when they are considering any medical treatment. There is a whole swathe of people who have no trust whatsoever in our gov’t and the way that they’ve handled the pandemic.

Similarly a whole cohort recognise that they are at low risk from coronavirus infection (either due to pre-existing immunity or age and health) and that the vaccines have no long-term safety data whatsoever. It is their choice to decide whether or not to have it. Never once have I advised anyone one way or the other – I just say, make sure that you know the facts and make your own decision. Louise has had both doses. The increasing narrative is that vaccine refusers are selfish because they are putting others at risk. There really is no robust science to support this.

In Handoncock’s own words: ‘vaccine refusers are the principal threat to final unlocking on June 21.‘ In order to back this up, he and the entire msm quote hospital admissions with the Indian variant in Bolton. He says ‘the majority of hospital admissions are people who chose not to have the vaccine.’ What he doesn’t tell you is that 9 of them have had both doses and still caught it. This has enormous implications.

This odious knob started out as a harmless weasel, grateful to be with the big boys without getting his head flushed down the toilet. Now he’s a full-on lie-spewing prick. Do they really think that people can stomach more lockdown?

Not only that, but vaccine refusers are solely responsible for the spread of the Indian variant. That’s right.

Pakistan and Bangladesh were on the red list 2 weeks before India, but they had less infections. Why? There was a 4 day delay in implementing restrictions on travel from India. Why?

It really has nothing to do with De Pfeffel’s post-Brexit trade deal and his visit to India.

The situation over there is complicated: a disparate healthcare system; People taking advantage; Over-use of steroids in dangerously high doses and a very nasty secondary fungal infection. What’s absolutely clear though is that Ivermectin is working – it’s just that you don’t hear much about it in the press.

Shitake mushrooms


What’s going down in Israel?

Yes – I know it’s complicated and goes back at least until the 1900s – someone gave away a load of land in 1947, even though it wasn’t theirs to give – oops it was the British. I know that there’s violence and hatred on both sides. It’s just that there’s a hell of a lot more from Israel towards the Palestinians.

They’re targeting civilians. They’re using white phosphorus which eats through flesh and bone. They’re contravening the Geneva convention. They are committing international war crimes. They are committing genocide. They are a fascist regime. They are an apartheid state. Thankfully, more and more people are having the courage to speak out and yes, it’s possible to find a list of products that they produce and boycott them. I despise those Oxford posh boys, that Australian twat and anyone else who chose to play there.

What a lot of people don’t realise is the stupendous axis of affluence and power between Israel and the USA and their arse-licking hangers-on including the UK. The further you go down the rabbit hole, the more there is to find. The US gives Israel around 4 billion dollars a year in military aid. The UK carries out hundreds of million pounds worth of military exports to them a year.

Oh and what about that pimp to the ultra-powerful – Epstein?

It transpires that Bill Gates had extensive dealings with him and now Melinda is divorcing him. What’s Ghislaine Maxwell going to spill? What are the links to John Hopkins university and the World Economics Forum? It’s all frightfully complicated and it’s all linked.

Gwen reckons that things are going to kick-off big-style in America soon. We talk about intuition vs science. Just because you can’t measure intuition doesn’t mean that it isn’t there – especially in women. She’s also told me about the shortage of Calor gas which I confirmed when I tried to get my old gas bottles filled. Defo a lot of dodgy goings on.

As ever, I want to be wrong but I intuit a feeling that the whole house  of cards might come tumbling down soon. Yes – the Indian variant will inevitably ravage. There will be increased polarisation between toe-liners and questioners. There will be food shortages. If only I could have predicted all this 20 years ago. I would have traded in my golf club subscription and skiing holidays for a piece of land where I can grow my own food.

Once again, I have to ask at what point did we as a nation become so spectacularly dull, unobservant and servile? 

Kenmure St


Hail Glasgow!

I’ve told my Scottish stories before. The Scots gave me a chance when no-one else would.

Alex Ferguson has widely talked publicly about his illness three years ago and his gratitude to the NHS. It just so happened that he came to our Emergency Department and I was the consultant who looked after him initially. It was all part of a big team effort.

When he  was better, he came to see us, and all the staff who had been involved in his care were invited to meet him and have a pic taken with him. I chatted to him briefly and mentioned my repeat trips to Edinburgh to fail exams. He told me that Glasgow is the heart of Scotland and the only good thing to come out of Edinburgh is the road to Glasgow.

One early morning on Southside – Kenmure St, during Eid, an immigration van bundled two men into a van. First of all van man got under the van, then Declan Blench who had seen the proceedings from his flat, sprinted outside and sat behind the van. Soon there were hundreds of locals surrounding it, matched by large numbers of police including horses and riot gear. If they could have dispersed the crowd there’s no doubt that they would have. They were simply outnumbered. They and the immigration authorities finally gave up around 5pm and released the 2 men. This was a triumph of the power of people on the streets – nothing to do with politicians. It made my heart sing – check out the story here

Oh and guess what, simpering English politician pricks?

The claymores are out of the thatch.


Gretsch Tennessean woodblock print - one of the illustrations from the book

Rock & Roll:

I haven’t touched my guitar for a couple of weeks – maybe because it’s high gardening season? I’m trying to muster enthusiasm for our forthcoming gigs but I’m struggling. I can’t help feeling that it’s all about to go tits-up again with t’Indian variant.

I finally finished the Strange’s Baby Bitchery vid. It was tricky because we don’t have much up to date footage so I used some from a gig at Jim’s in 2016. Much to Louise’s scathing disapproval, I also filmed a lot of her weird masks and dolls heads. She and our house are very much part of the story especially as the album was recorded here.

Right. I’m off to the ranch.