7 am. Friday 10th May – computer at home.

I have that Friday feeling for a very good reason. I’m off work for two weeks and it’s my favourite time of year. May! ‘Spring hurtling towards summer’ as Neill puts it.

I have an unplan – no motorways, no car parks, no supermarkets.

Of course, it’s the best time of year for ranching in the UK – so much to do, so much to plant. Getting the roof on the greenhouse is on the cards – I decided on poly-tunnel polythene in the end – less than a quarter of the price of polycarbonate.

I took the first rhubarb harvest to work – a big carrier bag. It was all gone before I got to my office. Wellness and all that shit. If I hypothetically organised a meeting, I’d make sure that there was a free lunch of above average quality (and it would finish on time).

The summer solstice is the fashionable date in the rustic English calender, but for those in the know, for lots of reasons, the full moon in May (the 18th) is the coolest. I have a festival up there every year – camping in the van in the bosom of abject glamping luxury. It’s a big success. I keep forgetting to invite other people though – me and the trees get on just fine.

Table from Painting Snails

After a couple of years of scrimping and saving, I’ve committed an utterly revolutionary act. I’ve bought a tipping trailer for the tractor. A bloke from Huddersfield delivered it to the end of the top road. We hitched it to the tractor and I drove it down. I got it stuck trying to reverse it into the barn. There’s an art to reversing with a trailer – my neighbours Chris and Jimmy taught me how to do it the day after.

It’s revolutionary because organic gardening is 100% dependant on the amount of organic material that you can put back into the soil – now I can collect horse muck from the vast mounds on Jimmy’s and Carla’s allotments, potentially increasing my output several-fold. It’s also revolutionary because a tractor designed in the late 40s and made in 1954 remains the most efficient cost-efficient vehicle for the job. It would be possible to convert it to biogas.

I decided to keep the van. I’ve had the romantic illusion to travel the West coast of Ireland in it for a few years now. When I showed Tony a picture of the tractor and trailer he immediately said ‘You need to move to the West coast of Ireland.’

Rock & Roll:

We have no upcoming gigs and I’m glad. We did a spot at one of those charity all-dayers on Sunday and I decided never again – proper well-organised gigs from now on or nothing. I’ve decided on a new book, and I’m going to tour that, just like we did with Painting Snails. I want to record a song this week and do a simple video.

I wrote a coruscatingly raw and brutal song a while ago about the over-medicalisation of the human condition by both patients and the profession – particularly mental health. It’s so brutal that I couldn’t possibly air it publicly. The key point is that humanity is a spectrum on which we all lie. My observation is that giving a medical label to all aspects of human life isn’t always helpful. The song is called On the spectrum meaning the spectrum of humanity – it’s no use as it is, because any listener will automatically presume that I’m referring to autism and I’m not. I’m re-writing it as a John Lee Hartley song and the chorus will be ‘We’re all on the spectrum of humanity.’ 

I’ve been racking my brains for a while now, trying to decide what to write next. It came to me clearly a couple of weeks ago when Erin said ‘I hope me and Lizzy are in your next book’. A few people have already said that I should write a sequel.

Often the simplest route is the best. I’ll just carry on doing what I’m doing – the blog is the book and the book is the blog. I’m simply a narrator of a developing real-life story. All the chapter headings will be the same (except America will be Ireland and Cardiff will be Dublin.) I wrote a lot about my dad in the first book. Pamela said that she was disappointed that I didn’t write about my mum more (too fucking painful – that’s why) – maybe I should tell that story? 

Every aspect of the first book is ongoing, only it’s got more interesting – The ranch; Rock & Roll; wheels; emergency medicine; Don Juan, The Buddha and me. Most of the same characters are still there (Thomo and I ended up with adjoining desks after all.) There are new characters too. Erin’s brother is also a Rock & Roll Doctor – he plays in a successful band.

I’ll do it exactly the same as the last one – 100% DIY. The only difference will be the marketing and promotion – I’ll do it prospectively and cut a woodblock for each chapter again – I’ll sell prints and snippets of the chapters as I go along – by the time the first edition comes out, there’ll hopefully be an audience ready and waiting. I’ve even got a title and a cover idea.

Our Pendle Radicals project is starting to get exciting: Sick of being Normal – Pendle Punk 40 years on is an observation of the influence that punk has had on a diverse bunch of 12 or so people. There’ll be a narrative in the form of a published fanzine-like booklet and there’ll be big photos taken by Casey – it will be marked by an exhibition and a gig, but like the rest of the above, it will be another chapter in a fascinating story. It’s only recently that I’ve realised how much of an influence it was. Has anyone in your department done a John Peel session? Yes: carry on as normal. No: fuck off and mind your own business. I’ve started work on re-doing the NOTSENSIBLES website and the iconic first version of the album will be on sale soon on CD – Gaz has done all the re-mastering and artwork.

Beryl told me that there’s a long tradition of talking to bees and telling them your story – life events and so on. The hive is all set up but still no bees – Dewy captured a swarm, but then they went home again. I was supposed to take my hive to a beekeeper this morning, but it fell through.

It’s supposed to get sunnier later in the week but it’s still raining in the grim North. Louise and Rachel have just brought me a cheese and onion pie from Haffner’s – perfect timing – once I’ve eaten it, I’m off up to the ranch.

The story so far ...