I’m on the ranch in demi-shed A. It’s raining. The long late run of balmy September sunshine has come to an end as October arrives. I was enticed and intoxicated into trying to soak up every last vit D drop, before the imminent kick-in of an imminently bleak winter.
Late September is my time, second only to magical May. It’s my anniversary.
The hedges have grown exponentially – far more than I can possibly prune and lay by hand. The boughs of the inner and outer hedge meet in places, forming secret cloistered archways.
It’s been a good season and I’m ready for serious food growing.
Long before the plague, I predicted the time when locally grown food would become a necessity in the face of the inevitable breakdown of the unsustainable international food growing and transport system. Well, it’s here. Now. Under our noses.
I also predicted the shortages – I just got the timescale wrong. Hence at the beginning, I went round buying building materials and Jerry cans to fill with fuel. After a while, I thought I was just being paranoid and stopped. I wish I’d bought more. I particularly wish that I’d bought Calor gas when Gwen warned me of shortages months ago. Several things have more than doubled in price and lots more are following. The lying govt give us inflation figures which massively underestimate the reality.
Seedwise, I bought ‘one of everything’ from Real Seeds and I’ve experimented in my sloppy gormless way.
10 different varieties of tomatoes. Pounds upon pounds of beans: runner; French; broad.
After the Spaniards invaded South America, they were transformed from squat little dwarves into a much healthier taller race. Why? Beans. That’s why. They’re high in protein and are extremely versatile. If you miss picking them when they’re little, just leave them then dry the seeds for a winter food supply. They grow tall and vertical, occupying minimal growing space. What’s more, French beans freeze very well (runner beans don’t).
For the first time I’ve grown: quinoa, (which I’ve just harvested and am trying to dry); Yacon (a weird tuber that is very similar to water chestnut); large quantities of chillies; black barley and lots of obscure herbs (such as Peruvian mint which has an exquisite aniseed flavour).
Potatoes and apples have done terribly and once again my brassicas are mediocre.
Both hives are thriving. Honey is imminent, although I need to get cracking with the bee escapes under the supers. As ever, I’m late and recalcitrant because I’m scared of the buzzers – they go apeshit when I interfere with their houses. Who can blame them?
I’m collecting seeds like crazy because they are everything – the beginning, the end. The alpha, the omega. Have a revolution, but you won’t be able to if you’re starving to death. Breeding varieties that do well in the local climate is the big secret.
A few years ago, I grew some Artemisia Annua – also known as Sweet Wormwood. It’s been used as an anti-parasitic for centuries. In 2015 Tu Youyou won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. She was aware of the plant’s effectiveness from its use in Chinese medicine. She helped isolate its main active ingredient artemisinin, which now has widespread use as an effective treatment against malaria including multi-drug resistant varieties.
It was actually very easy to grow when I tried it, but it’s a hot country plant and needs the heat to produce its active ingredients.
Two old well-established anti-parasitic drugs have sparked great debate in the treatment of C19: Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin. The factual information about their efficacy is legion, with literally millions of people using them worldwide with good effect, although you won’t read that in the MSM.
Is it possible that Artemisia Annua may be effective in the treatment of C19? Some people think so and it’s already being in some countries. What?! A plant that you can grow in your back yard for free could protect you against the plague? Don’t talk such nonsense. That would really scupper big pharma, so don’t mention it again. Here’s an interesting BBC piece, mentioning some of the early research.
Our own native Artemisia, Mugwort is equally interesting.
It’s not all bucolic. I have been wracked and harrowed and seeing through a glass darkly. The raw outdoor beauty around has never been more vivid. Seizing the day has never been more desperately needed and I’m grateful for everything. (Check out life-coach Brian’s gratitude vid here – it made me laugh.)
Our lovely friend Judith died of breast cancer, which also killed my mum. Judith was one of a kind – a socialist lawyer, who stood up against big corporations so that ordinary folk could be compensated. Her generosity was incredible. She took us all to Madrid to a nice hotel for her 50th. The funeral was deeply moving and once again, I’m trying to balance grief with the joy of being alive and healthy.
Another friend died, and we’re seeing an awful spate of suicide amongst medical staff. I get angry at people who say that suicide is selfish, because they display an absolute lack of understanding. Selfish implies the presence of self. The suicidal mind has lost the self and cannot save itself – it requires someone with wisdom and insight to spot the signs.
When I was sick, I simply didn’t know how to ask for help. It’s probably a Burnley boy thing. I knew things were getting worse and that I was going to need surgery, I just didn’t know what to do about it. At the height of the miserable catalogue of indignity, I had to go back to work after I’d worked a 12-8 shift. I phoned Tony and he said ‘just come in.’ He did his absolute best, but the doctor from the relevant speciality wouldn’t come out to see me and there was nothing on offer that I couldn’t do myself. ‘I’d rather fucking die.’ I said.
In poetry and song-writing, you can say stuff without saying it and most of the time no-one knows what the fuck you’re on about. Doctor heal yourself, somebody rescue me. I saw it all as karma – as my lesson. Peasant scrotes like me don’t warrant privacy, dignity and appropriate treatment. ‘How would you rate your experience?’ Fucking shite with a capital SH.
Sweet Erin, the freshest breath of fresh air ever, tells me her baby bro (a psychiatrist) is working on psychedelics as a treatment for depression.
People experience grief in different ways. Mine is a silent numbness, becoming a black rage, which I try and burn off up here.
This is a space created cubic centimetre by cubic centimetre. Year by year, based on a vision that becomes more spectacularly true by the minute. It’s so much more than a garden. Every millimetre is planned to sit discretely in the rugged terrain. It could be a venue, a bar, a speakeasy, an all-nighter, a restaurant, a school, a garage, a workshop, a forge. Here, there will be no stupid fucking passports – no cunts with clipboards telling me what I can and can’t do. There’s gentle hope in these thousands of plants.
The other ranch:
At the other ranch, the emergency part of emergency medicine is the smallest part. The biggest part is firefighting, plate-spinning and desperately trying to find rooms to see patients in the grid-locked, completely blocked department. Brexit and pandemic related misery come our way, simply because there is nowhere else for it to go.
I never intended to talk about Emergency Medicine when I wrote the book. In the end, I felt the need to big-up my colleagues, because like many front-line workers, they are the unsung heroes. I couldn’t wish to work with a finer bunch.
Smithy and I are still having our old-twat conversations and we’re still both driving Smithymobiles.
I’ve known Ratty since day one. Like me, he’s the first person in his family to go to medical school and he too has tractor credentials – he had his own as a youngster. I value his down-to-earth insight enormously.
The other week, we had a conversation about the two kinds of work ethic: the ‘proper job’ one, where we’re both pathologically punctual and conscientious, fuelled by imposter syndrome, then the more relaxed farming one, which requires a different mindset. The latter can occupy you 12 hours a day seven days a week and you keep doing it for as long as you can, because it’s in your blood. The idea of retiring from it doesn’t even come into your head.
In my supreme financial naivete, I didn’t realise that I could cash in the pot of money that I’ve been paying into for years and start drawing a monthly income and get a lump sum. It’s a no-brainer. I only found out when Annette told me. She too is another long termer like me and Ratty and she’s the sweetest, kindest person ever. The ability to confide in her has been a lifesaver at times. I’ve campaigned for her and Ratty to be able to work at consultant level, because they certainly have the experience.
We’re talking a lot at work about being kind and how important it is. If there’s such a thing as a punchline to my book, it’s above all be kind. I’d take it one step forward and as Maya Angelou said ‘Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud’.
There are times however, when kindness falls on deaf ears. What about when horrible, rich, white middle-class men destroy the hard-won liberties of entire populations? Then it’s a case of speaking out or being complicit.
Medical people are weary and exhausted. The vile government’s response is to throw even more low-income people into desperate poverty with its universal credit and national insurance thefts. As a result, there will be more sickness and death, while Americans housed in Downing Street plan the pillaging of the NHS for their profit masters. The fraudulent profits of billions that the odious pricks have made for themselves and their cronies with their PPE and testing scams, would more than cover the funding needed to improve social and health care.
How can anyone possibly trust anything that they say? All they’ve done is line their pockets at the expense of the vulnerable and working people. They don’t give a shit about us. Once again, I have to ask at what point did the English become so dull and spineless as a nation?
From the beginning I haven’t believed a word that they’ve said about the plague. Whatever the truth of the virus itself, it’s been used by the Etonion slime and their arse-lickers to destroy the livelihoods of ordinary people and to crush their mental and physical wellbeing.
Where do we then look for valid interpretation of the science? Certainly not the govt. It’s a case of peering between the cracks and looking at the raw data from here and the other 90 or so countries where it’s available.
Here’s what’s happening in pandemic land.
There’s a big rise in excess deaths including in younger age groups and there’s been a huge rise in cancer deaths – catastrophic deteriorations in people who were previously in remission.
There are a disproportionate number of symptomatic C19 cases in double-vaccinated people and big spikes in post-jab deaths in heavily vaccinated countries and US states – here’s one evaluation.
Vaccine adverse events are hugely under-reported.
Infection-acquired immunity is proving to be more protective than vaccine-acquired immunity. Here’s a paper from Science.
Low-cost off-patent treatment packs for millions of people, all including Ivermectin, have vastly reduced mortality and morbidity from C19 – here’s the India example from John Campbell. This information is blanket censored by the media.
There are two new anti-viral drugs, first hinted at months ago and now being mentioned by the MSM, due to be released later in the year, manufactured by Pfizer and Merck – here’s a Reuters article.
As I predicted, the crime of injecting children with a new medical intervention, that has no long-term safety data whatsoever has come to pass, and I can no longer subscribe. Children will die and be injured as a result. I’m astonished that so few people are speaking out. There is no evidence whatsoever that the jab affords children any benefit against a virus that causes only mild illness in the vast majority of cases.
I made my own decisions about the jab based 100% on my own experience and research (research is something very specific in medicine btw – I’m not talking back of fag packet internet bollocks). To make decisions about medical interventions based on true informed consent is an inexorable human right. Coercion and deliberate misinformation are ethically abhorrent. That’s another reason why I can’t subscribe any more (although I have to make it clear that I’ve never been coerced into doing anything by anyone at work).
In an irascible rant to sweetness, I point out that having gone through the emotionally draining unsubscription from the proper job, I can now unsubscribe from whoever and whatever I like: rude cunts; thick cunts; unreliable cunts; late cunts; bureaucratic cunts. I go on about the politeness of kings (and queens obvs) and manners maketh man (and woman obvs). She mutters ‘It takes one to know one, you’re the biggest cunt off all’. Yes – I know I’m a badmaash. But someone has to tell the emperor that they’re bollock naked. I’ve tried growing up and it didn’t work.
Despite the loveliness of close colleagues, I sometimes despair at the person skills of the larger institution. In the book I used the line ‘couldn’t recruit and retain a turd out of a toilet’ when referring to the disconnect of a privately run human resources department.
I don’t think they’re always tuned in to what makes people tick. The sorest point perhaps is car-parking. If they had a grain of imagination or lateral thinking, they could have a system whereby car parking was made easy by helpful attendants who also arranged car servicing and MOTs etc. As it is, they’re private companies, often with an element of quasi-military enforcement.
I’ve had three major experiences to date of car park harassment at work.
In the third and final one, I’d taken to parking on the empty ground floor of the multi-storey. It’s supposedly reserved for visitors, but there are hardly any now, so it’s always more than half-empty. I ignored the signs saying that staff couldn’t park there.
I got a generic email from the car park people referring to me as ‘User’ (that means something quite specific where I come from mate), threatening to fine me if I did it again.
Of course, I apologised afterwards to the admin girl who sent it, but my reply was unequivocal and it didn’t go down well with those upstairs.
My favourite Buddhist story is ‘Whosoever pulleth out the poisoned arrow … Excuse me mate, before you save my life, can I just ask whether you’ve completed your core mandatory training?
That was it then. The finisher. What value has the maverick mind in being able to think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions in difficult times? Peel session anyone? It’s time for my favourite Withnail quote.
Which brings me neatly to ….
Rock & Roll
… where the mavericks, the questioners, the freaks, the renegades, the lateral thinkers are all part of the tapestry.
My Rock & Roll journey began with Notsensibles. Last week I made a conscious decision to start afresh and it’s going fungal already (that’s one down from viral, but I’m getting there) – a new chapter.
First though, the last chapter, which began during the plague.
I was shell-shocked. Scared. Living a weird life alternating with hospital working and the rapturous escape of the ranch in spectacular spring sunshine – nature symphonic in the silent towns. I didn’t touch my guitar for months and I was a complete recluse.
Slowly, we started having family music nights. I use the term family loosely – it’s me and my surrogate sons and daughters and there’s a bunch of about ten of us. We generally play a bit of music and have a few bevs. I can’t remember which phase of which lockdown it was or which bunch of pointless rules we were supposed to be following. I reckoned that I had enough experience and qualifications to decide what was and wasn’t safe.
We listened to the tapes of the Strange album, started a while back and decided to finish it.
It was Sam who came up with the double-meaning title. It means something quite specific in Urdu and Hindi. Get it here.
Sagefest 2 happened in early July. It was an experiment in the infra-structure of a completely off grid event and it worked well.
We decided to arrange a launch gig for the album and booked the upstairs room at The Golden Lion for the 18th September.
Rico invited us to play at Preston Pop festival at the Continental in Preston, we being me and The Strange. I’m still playing with Notsensibles bass player Gary Brown and Tyler kindly agreed to play drums for us. It was a great gig at a great venue. Bryn and Hannah came and we partied back at the house afterwards.
Our next one was at the Gallery in Burnley on 4th September. Natalie and Cain had planned a full weekend festival but had to postpone it due to funding problems. They had to go ahead with the Sat night, because they’d booked Nosebleed. Out of all the bands they could have asked, they chose me and The Strange and it was most flattering. It was a great gig.
Nosebleed, a punky garagey band from Leeds were ace. I chatted to them at length afterwards about the music biz and nerdy recording stuff.
The pinnacle was the Golden Lion gig which was a great success. It was an exercise in DIY organisation.
My wonderful aunt Christine was there – 87 years young. Ryan is her grandson and Dean is Ryan’s cousin and it was their band Opening Scene’s first gig – I played first, then they did, then The Strange, with Ticker DJing. The whole thing was a family affair, showcasing our niche of northwest punk-inspired irreverence – hand-made, hand-printed and so on.
The gig somehow represented a turning point. The end of one era and the beginning of a new one.
I still listen to Woman’s Hour on the way to work. I find Emma a bit brusque at times and she hasn’t got Jayne & Jenni’s flare yet, but she’ll get there. There was a lady on who ran the Serpentine Gallery for ages and decided to leave and at the age of 64 start a new life for herself. I kind of like that – a bit like Ulysses. So that’s it, a new beginning, based on getting out there and meeting people face to face. Already each thread is weaving serendipitously into another, and each outing brings a new opportunity.
I’m writing again. I was struggling to know what and how to write. It’s falling into place now. like human life. Messy. Raw. Brutal. Filthy and above all passionate. I’m going to have to write under a pseudonym.
Like Rumi said:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.