Field in winter



I once vaguely considered writing a gardening book but I wouldn’t get far – I’m just too gormless and haphazard. I wonder what I’d call it? The gormless gardening git? How to not garden and be a dick? I’ve realised that the only pre-requisite to becoming a writer is to write.

There are so many online organic gardeners on the internet with perfect rustic looking bulging beds. Mine’s just a damp scruffhole at the moment and is looking rather tired. All the proper paths are slimy and downright treacherous – I slipped the other day. I’ve just got back and it’s cold and wet.

I continue to believe that our climate is one of the best in the world because the notorious north-west dampness will have its day as other places burn. Nevertheless, it’s particularly damp this winter. Even a few hours of sun will warm up the rear demi-shedlet, but there just hasn’t been much. The result is constant high humidity levels which swells up the bottom door so I can hardly open it (I’m trying to avoid planing it down, because it will shrink again when it’s dry and the wood is still seasoning.) Anything cotton (bee suit, bedding) is starting to go mouldy.

Despite all this, more than ever it’s a place of constant rugged beauty and a great head-leveller – particularly good for post twat-tantrum rage. I’ve decided to finally get organised this year (don’t get excited, I decide the same every year and generally bugger-all happens.)



I’m actually doing quite well. I’ve made rough diagrams in my little red notebook of the beds. Every time I plant something, I make a note. I’ve also jotted down what was in last year, so I can start better crop rotation. 

I’ve deliberately planted the autumn garlic late (and something has immediately started digging it up – pigeons? The pesky crows?) – it likes the cold, which helps build the roots, but it doesn’t like being wet so planting later is an experiment to see if it does better than spring planted varieties – I’ve planted Solent White and Tuscany White. We’ve still got lots of garlic from summer, but it’s a bit scrawny.

Mulching is on schedule. I’m now resolutely no dig. Sprinkling volcanic ash on top of the manure-woodchip mulch adds essential nutrients. My seeds and spuds have arrived. There’s still quite a bit of hedge-laying and tree transplanting to do but all in all things are on track.

On addressing finishing the greenhouse, I realise that I need to sort the left-hand corner which has sunk so the guttering doesn’t drain back to the other side. It means a hefty foundation, a bit of under-pinning and another IBC tank. It’s back to that As above, so below thing. Complicated problems mean going right back to the root and tackling that deep heavy stuff (man.) The analogy continues, because unlike what conventional building teaches, it really doesn’t matter what materials you use and what it looks like, so long as it serves its purpose. I use whatever is to hand – bottles, brick, stone. Even broken glass becomes useful in foundations.

As above so below

Rock & Roll:

There was a great documentary on telly a couple of weeks ago – it was Chris Packham talking about how punk had influenced his life and all the themes in there were the same as the ones that have come through our Sick of Being Normal – Pendle Punk 40 years on project. The publication is done and looks great and the tickets have almost sold out.

I’d forgotten how involved organising a gig can be. As compere and house band guitarist, I’m playing in three of the four bands and I’ve a lot of songs to learn. Gaz is a great musical director. He has a great sense of how songs should be – correct tempo etc. He’s also great at technical stuff. Rehearsal highlights so far, are playing with my brother again (he’s drumming in the rockabilly band) and doing the rap songs with Leon.

Through the rose-tinted specs of those of us lucky enough to be healthy and still around, it’s all looking pretty hunky-dory. I’d also forgotten that there was a much darker side to punk. When Notsensibles were going, we were in our late teens but a lot of our fans were much younger – like many of those attracted to punk, they were disenfranchised which made them vulnerable to some pretty nasty unscrupulous people. There was a dark peripheral drugs scene which a lot of people were unwittingly drawn into. We’ve been trying to reach out to everyone involved and there are some spiky moments.


Rock & Roll and Emergency Medicine


The Film:

I woke up early yesterday and I was actually IN the film – it wasn’t like a conventional dream. It wasn’t the usual recurring semi-nightmare where I’m late for work and I turn up in my underpants (seriously, I had a dream where I was the only ED consultant at a Critical Care conference and I was wearing tight beige shorts/underpants.)

The reason is, that last night, before I came to bed, I watched every single clip in consecutive order from the day that I started filming. I’d been putting it off. I think I was scared in case it was crap.

I actually love film making but the only thing I’ve ever done before are semi crazy music vids. I once got persuaded to apply for a job that I wasn’t sure about. After the long online application process, I was unexpectedly asked to do a ten minute presentation – I did one, but not the one that they asked me to do, or one that they could possibly have anticipated. I did a daft music vid of course, with Bish playing drums. He wore an Afro wig and did that thing where he stares at the camera for the whole vid with a fixed smile. My moment of glory was the scene in the kitchen where I’m stood on one leg wearing white platforms and bell-bottoms + an Afghan and a mullet wig. It was my way of commenting on the recruitment process.

I thought that if I’m leaving for a life of unrockstardom and hillside pseudo-farming, I might as well do it in style – the ultimate chip-pisser so to speak. It all back-fired in the end. I could easily write a full book chapter about it. I just wanted to sit next to Thomo in the class room – that’s all. That’s why I have a genuine vested interest in making a recruitment film for what’s probably the best emergency department in the world. My colleagues are presuming that I know what I’m doing. Every time I canvass opinion or suggest a particular style, they all just nod indifferently and say you’re the director. 


It all came about because in my accidental role as chair of our monthly meetings, I was chasing down some actions. This particular action was to get the dosh for an advert in the BMJ (ffs if Oldham can have one, why can’t we?)

Yes, you can have the funding, but you’ll have to make a promo film first.’ I get where they’re coming from, because these days it’s all Insta and Twitter (please don’t mention TikTok we’re not ready.) All the cool kids are getting down w social media, and if we’re to have a chance of competing (for prospective colleagues), we need to keep up. Fair enough. I realise how difficult it will be to make a good recruitment film.

I sift through the footage, wishing I could make a director’s out-takes version. One clip has me weeping with laughter. It’s the bit where I decide could prob do with some cool footage of me being chairmanly. I walk round the table, focus the camera on my seat then hand the camera to Umang. For some reason, it turns out completely out of focus – it pans from me to Carel and we are just two blurred images and it makes me laugh.

Soft focus