An Gof!

In 2016, after a session on Spingo and Rattler in the Blue Anchor that lasted long into the night, Jinks Nankervis and ‘Boy’ Trevaskis (who was 80 if he was a day) decided to campaign for Cornwall to become an independent sovereign nation with full control not only of the pasty trade, but also of ’emmet control’. It did not matter that the Cornish Pasty had already achieved protected status or that ’emmets’ kept the Cornish economy from falling into a recession deeper than Dolcoath mine. These were the sorts of inconvenient facts that just got in the way of alcohol fuelled, high level, principled strategic thinking rooted in complete and utter bollocks. As everyone knows “You can prove anything with Spingo”. But, as the pair were never ones to let facts get in the way of a beer fuelled debate, the two pressed on with drawing up a plan which made as much as sense as using a packet of pork scratchings as a door knob. An ’emmet’, for the cognoscenti, is an ancient celtic word applied to the tribe that lives the other side of a river. It literally means ‘rich london bastard’ according to the Cornish Bard ‘Trevor Trevelyan of Trengilly’ whose dictionary of old cornish sayings was a best seller at a second hand book stall in Pool Market.

The idea for ‘Krexit’ came to one of them after about pints two of ‘Middle’ (Jinks) and Rattler (‘Boy’). History does not recall who got the whole discussion going. No one in the bar had a pencil, a note pad or a functioning brain cell to make any notes. So, how do we know of their plans? This was after all an exercise in shared verbal futility concocted within a dimly lit bar, rather than a systematic manifesto with an agreed vision, mission, values, goals and objectives. Well, just as we know that Jesus thought that a wedding without wine was as enjoyable as syphilitic secretions on a honeymoon, due to his mate Peter remembering that fact later, we know of ‘the plan’ because Wendy behind the bar relayed it to her friend, who told her sister, who passed it on to a cousin that had married a one of Jink’s sisters called Betty who lived in Tolskiddy Barton near Redruth.

Betty loved a gossip and enjoyed the telling of tall tales in order to share it with anyone mad enough to sit down in her company for more than five minutes. Therefore she was the perfect person to record (in her head) the Gospels according to Nankervis and Trevaskis. She wasted little time, and had dropped in on Jinks a few days later for a cup of tea and a saffron cake and told him all about what she had heard, prefacing the discussion with,

“You made a bleddy tit of yourself in the Blue the other day”.

Suffice to say, Betty’s story was light on detail, took a few liberties with the truth, was riddled with contradictions, and was not above a wee bit of embellishment in the manner of all good religious stories that preceded it. The Cornish, according to Krexit, should throw off the yoke of oppression starting with fixing barriers at the point of entry at both the Tamar and Dunheved bridges. And that was just the start. The problem, as the budding politicians would have it, was that there were far too many ‘bleddy english’ racing down the A30 to buy up the most promising of properties in the coastal villages. In addition, the beaches were too full, and fancy english foods such as Quinoa and Chia seeds were being seen in the local Spar in Lanner. This was a sign of decadance and there was “no bleddy need for it, you can’t make a pasty with Quinoa” said Trevaskis who pronounced it ‘Kwin noh hah’ after asking the young girl at the till four times what it was.

Other measures being considered was preferential treatment (i.e. queue jumping) at the bar of the Blue Anchor and special locals’ prices for those whose names included ‘Tre, Pol and Pen’, and “Nan…don’t forget the Nan’s” Nankervis had insisted. Subsidised beer for the locals was to be paid for by an increase on the council tax on second homes, Airbnbs and ‘Buy to Lets’. If an ’emmet’ was suspected of being in front of you when the Spingo was to be poured, the bar staff would be entitled to use the code phrase:

“When would you like the beer, sir?” to which the correct answer should be “drekly” said with a wink. Any other answer would mean being ignored until Jinks and Boy Trevaskis had got their pints and scratchings.

Emmets, they thought, could be spotted by the quality of their clothes – a give away would be any designer labels indicating they were not ‘Pool Market Specials’ – and that their shoes were clean of any farmyard detritus of animal origin. They clearly had not thought this through because Dr Penarthen of Praze-an-Beeble Health Centre would also have clean shoes, as it was well known his surgery rarely allowed cows to shit in the waiting room.

The Cornish were to have subsidised pasties (exceptions were Ginsters), subsidised craft ales brewed in the county, and free admission to the Eden Project, free admission to gardens such as Heligan, free admission to all National Trust properties and beach car parks.

“…and don’t forget to include that wine from up Bodmin”.

“…and that Yarg, I bleddy loves it, I do”.

“…what they about they ‘ansome pork pies…made down St Buryan way?”

They had yet to define who would count as Cornish. Proposals included being born in the county (obviously) but one problem with this, was that Jinks was born (say it quietly) in Plymouth. His mother, a fair maid from a pig farm down the Lizard way had met his father, ‘Razor Nankervis’, in the Blue Anchor on Flora Day. He was called ‘Razor’, ironically by his acquaintances, because his wit was as sharp as the blunt end of a soggy duck down pillow. He never knew why they called him that. Mind, what he lacked in brains he more than made up for in brawn, and Jinks’ mother was not above enjoying a bit of brawn where it mattered.

The spingo had flowed, moral probity dissolved and tongues had loosened, and the day was followed by a nights furtive fettling in the boating lake garden. Jinks was thus conceived, resulting in a hasty marriage and a move to Plymouth around the time of delivery to avoid the tut tutting of the disapproving old maids in the village. Notwithstanding a return to a cottage in Carleen at 6 months old, Jinks birth certificate still had Plymouth all over it as his place of birth.

A compromise and a special case was agreed upon for Jinks, but it did let in a little room for interpretation of what being Cornish meant.

And what that boiled down to was the freedom to argue endlessly about who made the best pasties, whether Trelawney lived or died and whether the Tamar bridge should charge more for “letting the buggers in”. In the end, the two decided it was too much ‘bleddy trouble’ organising a Cornish Parliament and after the third pint they’d forgotten they ever discussed it.


Published by Lance Goodman

Freelance writer, bon vivant and all-round good oeuf.

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