We all have to get around the place. In our early years that means using our legs as the primary means of transport before being promoted to a bicycle. When that happens, we are introduced to a largely pain free, and exciting, medium of getting from A to B via all points wherever.

The bicycle.

For some of us that meant getting to school, for others it included wild carefree excursions to the coast with a packet of crisps and a bottle of pop.

All too soon there comes a time when even a bicycle is not enough and a bus is just not cool. Testosterone flushes through one’s very core, rinsing out any lasting vestige of sensible and replacing it with insanity, speed, tumescence and often the spilling of a little blood and snapping of bone. If you managed to skip the motorcycling stage and went straight instead to four wheels, then the blood letting may have been evaded.

As a young man in the 1970s, one was short of money and so the choice of car was extremely limited to old Dagenham dustbins kept together with rust, string and hope. It was the time when filler was a must to keep the rusty panels together in some form of harmony. Flash German made cars were verboten, Italian style was the abode of scooters and the French were comedy vehicles fit only for the transport of eggs across a ploughed field in Brittany rather than a serious option for the ambitious young man with an urge to impress the ladies. And so good old British design was the back stop.

We must bear in mind that Britain had designed Dreadnought Battleships, the record breaking steam engine Mallard, the Spitfire and the mini skirt. There has been a wealth of talent in this country to design things of beauty, of form and function that the world could only envy. Even the French.

Then at some point we took our eye off the ball when it came to cars. Yes, Alec Issigonis had designed the mini. But, Alec was an Englishman born in Turkey, of Greek origin and through his mother’s kinships, was a first cousin once removed to BMW and Volkswagen director Bernd Pischetsrieder. Perhaps that explains the mini exception in car design in the 1970s. For the ‘hoi polloi’, apart from this masterpiece, we were offered cars designed by some blokes down the pub after several rounds of mild and porter whose only association with any form of style was of the type of field entrance covered in cow shit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you a car, which if you have not owned, seriously challenges your credentials to be a member of the beige cardigan wearing community.

I need not tell you the make or model, nor the year in which it made its first appearance. Those of you who have had the ‘joy’ of owning, repairing, riding, or dare I suggest ‘canoodling in the back seat of’ this or similar motors, will still bear the memories and the scars of that mental trauma.

Mine was white. 

It was about as thrilling to drive as filling out a tax return, except less challenging. It must have been designed by burned out engineers at the end of their careers who otherwise dreamed of turning their allotments into mini Edens (but without the nudity and snakes). They were given the project on a Friday afternoon by the CEO with the remit: “Nothing fancy, mind, and don’t work late, just make it go”. They would have gnawed at the end of their HB pencils, then scribbled furiously for 10 minutes before remembering that their local pub had a happy hour which, for 2s and 6d, would provide the opportunity for a three pints of mild and a packet of salt and  vinegar crisps to discuss serious matters such as the correct methods for cheese-paring. 

The name of the car is a farce. And a lie. 

As you know it means “at brisk speed”.

You will only find bigger fibs, and misdirection, in the Old Testament, Estate Agents’ blurb and in the vocal prelude to the performance of fellatio by over enthusiastic and inebriated youths to their gullible girlfriends. 

I had the ‘joy’ of driving to work one day, and just as the car turned into the hospital’s main entrance the nearside wheel fell off causing a sudden lurch to the left and a grinding halt mid turn. Upon inspection the wheel was at 90 degrees to the body of the car. Something had completely snapped. Needless to say the car was now immovable stuck in the gateway. With the assistance of a few onlookers, who must have seen my pain, the car was pushed, scraping and grinding to one side leaving a slick of oil that a Gulf bound Tanker grounded off the rocks of the Manacles would have been proud of.  

I must have paid £300 quid for what was now just a useless pile of rust infested metal, good only perhaps to be a modern art installation or a warning to the unwary car buyer. The most valuable thing about it now was the full tank of petrol and the packet of fags in the glove compartment. Thus it was necessary, before calling the scrap dealer to lift it away on a flatbed truck, to empty the tank, and to clear the interior of detritus such as crisp packets, chewing gum and a year old packet of rusty condoms kept in the glove box for ‘just in case’. This was the 1980’s when hope was still alive for such matters.

When the scrap dealer turned up to tow it away, it was with mixed emotions. On the one hand, a little sorrow as I was now without transport. On the other hand, I was as relieved to see the back of it as a man on death row seeing his sentence commuted to a life organised around wine, cherries and an endless supply of willing female entertainers bent on using an ostrich feather in an amusing fashion. 

A car is a car. It is merely an means to an end. Some have a frisson of excitement about them, some are reliable, some are cheap to run. Many are destined to be assigned to the sluice of history removing all traces of their existence in one’s consciousness lest wellbeing, dignity and sanity is flushed down Satan’s u bend. 

Such is the Austin Allegro.

Have I got News for You

‘Tractor on Fire at Relubbus’.

A Russian fighter jet engaged a US drone over the Black Sea risking an escalation of the war. Australia, the UK and the US agreed to base nuclear submarines in the South Pacific, threatening an escalation of China’s continued, perceived and historical, humiliation at the hands of Western powers. Boris Johnson forgets to take his trousers at a Premier Inn in Cleethorpes while fleeing the scene, having been caught yet again with his ‘johnson’ enjoying freedom of movement with a young female Conservative’s naivety.  

One of the previous stories is not true. 

Meanwhile, in West Cornwall, the St Ives Times and Echo informs us that a tractor caught fire in the village of Relubbus. The paper added further detail; you will be pleased to know it was on the B3280. This is a small country road linking ‘nowhere’ to ‘where’s that?’. At this time of year it is liberally sprayed with a mixture of mud, dung, and rotting cabbage, making it all but impassable to vehicles other than a Russian tank on its way to Redruth on a mission to regenerate the town centre with some well aimed shells.

We are told by the ‘T and E’ that the Fire and Rescue Service sent two pumping appliances, one from Penzance and one from Tolvaddon (twinned with the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, but not as nice). In a classic of the genre entitled ‘No Shit.’ a ‘spokesman’ (sic) tells us that ‘firefighters wore breathing apparatus and used two hose-reels to extinguish the fire’. The ‘Fire Brigade’ did not turn up, being a non existent relic of the past, and so deemed unfit for purpose as its name implies. But the ‘Fire and Rescue Service’ did. It is not enough to put out fires; ‘ rescue’ is also required, hence the name change. I presume in the old days once a bucket of water was chucked over the chip pan fire, a fireman would say, “sorry mate, not my job…call a friend” to the chap on fire as ‘rescue’ was not in the job description?

It is good to see old-fashioned journalism sticking to everyday English. The writer of the paragraph (on page 3) preferred the word ‘spokesman’ to an increasingly fashionable spokeshim/her/them/they/hermaphrodite for the sake of clarity. No doubt the old grizzled Fire Officer, being of the boomer generation, appreciated the use of his gender assigned at birth, having had a fire to put out rather than engaging in a verbal to and fro with the journalist about appropriate pronouns.

Don’t worry, you can still refer to someone as a c*nt because in normal use it is gender non specific.

Upon being informed that a tractor was on fire in a village in West Cornwall, our trusted news sleuth turned up sharpish in the dung spoiled country lane somewhere, and accurately summed up the situation succinctly. They later added the necessary detail to avoid disappointing the reader. I’m assuming he or she turned up at the scene, but it could be that she (or he…or they) heard the story while necking pints of Doom Bar in the King’s Arms in Marazion. They (or he…or them) could have stayed boozing, and so took a wild guess at the bar to embellish the story with tales of the use of a breathing apparatus and hoses. It’s the sort of wild stab in the dark that wins Pulitzer prizes if you are lucky, or charges of lying through one’s overused ringpiece if not. Mind, it is a pretty safe bet that firefighters did use hoses, given that fires are very often reluctant to be put out using out-of-date candy floss and prayer.  

I would have liked to have known the make of the tractor, its age, the name of the driver, and wtf he was doing in Relubbus at that time of day, and another thing, whether there were any animals hurt in the extinguishing of the fire. There is potentially so much more to this, and I think we should be told. Was it caused by an old but over-excitable spark plug, a dropped cigarette or Brexit? Did the police turn up, and is the farmer now on a plane to Rwanda?

This tale of rural conflagration is the quality of story regularly published in my local paper. It’s probably also in yours, unless you live in London. Given that the rest of the world’s news is a complete and utter rusty bucket of leaky shit, underpinned by a sense of doomed foreboding last felt by everyone on the planet, except Noah’s family, as a mass of dark thunderclouds rolled in overhead. It is perhaps comforting to know that agricultural machinery is prone to self immolating pyrotechnics from time to time. 

Relubbus is not as exciting or as dangerous as South Central Los Angeles. The only ‘hood’ you will find there is the Young Farmer’s club, and ‘hoes’ refers to actual farm implements, not female performers of sexual exotica skilled in the darker arts of unlubricated fornication. Relubbus has a village dog called Trevor, a chapel now used for reflexology, reiki and wishful thinking, and now a burned-out tractor. 

In other news reported by the Times and Echo, the paper revealed that the number 16 bus was 3 minutes late at Crowlas, but it made up time at Penzance due to the driver staying awake while driving the bus. In addition, the St Erth to St Ives branch line train ran on rails, uneventfully, last week (as usual), helped in no small measure by the staff employed on various duties to do so. Mrs Flange of Back Road West, St Ives, fed her cat with a tin of ‘Salmon flavour Whiskers’ without mishap. “Mind, the tin was a bugger to open”, she later clarified, “what with my arthritis and me knees”. As part of medical confidentiality, the condition of her knees was not divulged to the paper and is known only to Mrs Flange, her GP and Back Road West residents (not the up-country second homeowners, obviously). The Public Interest defence was not used on this occasion to break Mrs Flange’s confidence as the Public could not give a flying fid about her “sodding knees she’s always banging on about”, said a neighbour.

Other stories included the fact that St Ives Rugby club scored a few tries, the St Ives cricket team is waiting for spring to play their first match, and St Ives FC scored no goals (again). The weather forecast predictably predicted rain. The local advertisements included nothing more exciting than the sale of a bicycle, a typewriter and a pine dining table with three chairs. The fourth being unavailable due to woodworm and poverty, as it ended up on the fire. Mind, that’s close to being an interesting story.

The obituaries reported that no one under 78 had died, or had died in exciting circumstances such as touching power lines with a kite, being trampled by a pig or asphyxiating on the billiard ball while wearing a gimp mask.

The paper has a regular column called “What’s On?” and invites the local community to share tidbits of exciting news and events such as whist drives, bible readings and the goings on of the local pizza-loving paedophile ring who secretly control Cornwall Council’s Parks and Gardens committee. Most of the time, the column is blank as nothing much happens, so the answer to the question ‘What’s On?’ is “Bugger all, and you?”

One local wag in the snug bar of the Sloop has suggested that the Times and Echo staff rehash stories from 1958 to 1975. They merely change names and dates to make it look like things are happening today when we all know nothing has happened locally since about 1975. Looking around the bar at the haircuts, clothes (and body odour) indicates that it could still be 1975. Gulls stole chips and pasties back then, and they still do. The locals still burn witches, eat turnips and talk about the ‘common market’ as a communist plot to steal the pilchards from off the plates of local urchins fresh from their 12 hour shift down the mine shovelling pony dung from underwater shafts.

There is no other news. Tractors may continue to burn, attracting commentary, while the ice caps melting, the rain forest burning, and Putin invading Poland are kept off the Times and Echo’s front page by the Council’s refusal of Planning Permission for the siting of a Pop Up Pizza van on Wharf Road, Mrs Flange’s cat has gone missing



When is a dividend not a dividend? 

Perhaps when it is smashing your nose into a bloody pulp with a cast iron frying pan in an orgy of rhinoplastic destruction and then convincing yourself that you are more handsome because the prominent pustule sitting on your nostril, threatening to burst into a volcanic eruption of infectious ejaculate, is now gone? You have taken sovereignty over your nose and exercised control of your battered visage, and lo and behold, one less pustule stares back at you in the bathroom mirror. It no longer mocks your very existence or belittles the over self confident rating of your beauty. 

That has to be a good thing. 

I was reminded of dividends recently upon return from Spain. 

The shop assistant in the small ‘pueblo blanca’ that is Mijas in Andalusia, was keen to point out that leaving the EU customs union and single market was a blessing for us British shoppers in Spain. You might be scratching your head at this point and wondering in what way this could be true? 

Now for the boring bit, but stay awake…this might affect you the next time if and when you go across the channel. Many goods and services in Spain attract an extra charge which I think is called ‘IVA’ or ‘Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido’ for short. It is an additional 20% of the price for some items, and the blow is softened by including it in the ticket price. So, you will see €100 on the ticket, but the IVA is the hidden €20 within it. I’m not fooled by this sleight of hand, except after a few lunchtime vinos in the afternoon when my defences are down due to the rosy hue the world has taken on. Please don’t leave me in charge of my wallet, especially in a shop selling whisky, watches, women or motorbikes. I have been known to waste cash on fripperies in distant and exotic places such as Dubai, Amsterdam and Bodmin.

So, you pay IVA for your tapas, Rioja and bullfight tickets. It might not escape your attention that these three items are not usually taken back with you on the flight home to the UK. It is customary to consume them at the point of sale unless you are some weirdo who takes pleasure in packing cold dishes of ‘boquerones al la plancha’ with your underwear. Therefore you will not be bothered with import duty or VAT.

In Mijas, the Brexit dividend showed itself, and as the assistant was only too pleased to tell us, it was that we could claim back the 20% IVA we were paying for our goods. This could be done at Malaga airport after filling out the necessary paperwork and getting it stamped and checked at the customs desk. We were glad to partake of this bonanza by applying the logic of knowing that 20% of bugger all is the same as bugger all, but 20% of ‘a lot’ is still ‘a lot’. Mind, it means a little bit of bureaucracy at the shop and then again at the airport, and a claim form posted to the Madrid office…but 20% is a very nice reduction. 

Flushed with the feeling of a bit of a bargain, Ann and I decided it was time for lunch and some reflection on the day over a ‘vino tinto’. At that point, an ugly thought intruded. 

“Hang on a minute, we are not paying Spanish VAT…but we are bringing stuff into the UK; surely the UK will not let us get away with paying 20% less?” 

We have been lulled into a sense of security over the last few decades when crossing borders in the EU. ‘Nothing to Declare’ has always been the option because the obvious was true even if we did not consider it. Because we were in a ‘customs union’, paying IVA in Spain meant VAT was also paid for the UK. Unless you were importing guns, children or cocaine, customs was a doddle. It was the green lane all the way to Maplethorpe from Malaga, cases bulging with any goodies bought from the Andalusian markets. 

A quick google search made it clear that there might be an issue with claiming the IVA in Spain and then expecting to walk straight into London’s customs paying nothing. We are not used to being bag searched and vinyl fingered at the UK border, and we did not intend to start now. There is an allowance of about £360 worth of goods you can import; below that, you can walk through with a calm mind. Mind, this is £350 in total, not for an individual item. 

What to do? The Mijas shop had already registered the sale to Spanish tax authorities…do they talk to UK tax authorities? Would we be on a ‘watch list’ at Gatwick? Would we hear “please follow me, sir” from a burly border guard armed with a truncheon, vaseline, a shiny badge and the attitude of a Rottweiler whose black leathery testicles have been set on fire with a kitchen blowtorch? I did not want to find out. 

We decided to declare our goods at the UK border and see what happens. 

As many of you have experienced, getting back into the UK has been relatively easy once you go through passport control and pick up your baggage. You will know of two routes through customs, the Red lane and the Green lane. Almost without exception, everyone goes through Green, especially from EU destinations. We have been used to ‘having nothing to declare’, so the habit has formed that we do so without giving a second thought to import duties. EU customs regulations have meant that many Customs officers have forgotten where the vinyl gloves are, and their tubs of lubricant are so old there is moss growing on them. I am sure some officers secretly wish to catch a miscreant in the green lane to break up the monotony of watching hordes of sun-burned tourists return red-faced from the Costa Del Sol carrying nothing more valuable than a sombrero and straw donkey. But, and you might have noticed, we are not in the EU. The rules have changed. 

And so it was that a stream of returnees headed towards the green lane like salmon returning to spawn up a Scottish river. But we broke ranks at the last moment and headed towards Red. We were then on our own. Nobody else joined us from the throng. A brightly lit corridor led to a lonely customs desk. The silence at this point was conspicuous and tangible. The happy chatter of passengers on their way home? Gone in a wispy moment like the steam from a stream of penguin piss in the antarctic air. The desk had no member of staff standing ready to process us through. There was a simple sign reading ‘please ring for attention’. To read it, I had to wipe away the cobwebs gathered there following months of underuse.

After what seemed like an epoch, a UK Customs and Border Officer ambled towards the desk, eyeing us with curiosity. I could see the quizzical look in her eye as if she was thinking, “who are these two lunatics”? 

“Can I help you?” she said. 

Well, after ringing a bell with a sign saying that was the way to get attention, then yes, attention was required. This was clearly an unusual turn of events for her, but something that would have been covered in basic training. Still, much like an engine failure after take-off is covered in pilot training, she had rarely had to deal with it in reality. 

“We have something to declare.”

I would have thought this was an unproblematic phrase to use standing, as we were, in the ‘Something to Declare’ lane. To me, this was the most obvious and possibly the best and most appropriate phrase I could have used. 

“Sorry?” This was spoken as a verbal ‘step back in amazement’. 

“We have something to declare”.


This bit of information was something of a surprise to her despite our location. 

“We have just returned from Spain and bought some goods, having claimed back the tax from the Spanish Authorities in Malaga”. 

“Oh, right!”

“I think we have to declare it?”

“Oh, yes, of course…well, you’re honest! Most people go through the green lane with their goods.” 

Clearly, we were an oddity and a rare occurrence.  

“I’ll get my colleague and work out what we should do”. She then ambled back into the office to discuss the best course of action with her colleague. After about 5 minutes, she returned to the desk with paperwork and the information that we had to pay VAT on the items. Her colleague followed to see for himself this rarity.

“You wish to declare goods from Spain? Well, you’re honest. Most people…”

“…go through the green lane, we know”. I did not actually say this as it is bad form to interrupt an Officer of the law in the middle of their duties. Border Force, Customs and Police officers are best left to think they are in charge because…they are in charge and have big head-banging sticks. They also have the power to keep you in detention for hours if they suspect you are taking the piss. You can be arrested for just making their day difficult. It is best not to put their backs up with jokes about drugs, bombs and asylum. 

The two officers then did a little calculation and finally informed us how much we would pay in VAT. 

Turns out, it was a few pounds more than the 20% return of IVA from Spain. 

We paid up, bid them farewell and returned to the teeming melee in the Arrivals hall.

I am tempted to tell the eager shop assistant in Mijas that we indeed could enjoy the benefits of not being in the EU, including claiming the IVA. I would also add that we would end up paying more in VAT back home. Therefore, as a selling point, it was a dead duck and about as attractive an offer as a colonic irrigation with a cold Vindaloo as a flushing agent. The process also meant paperwork on both sides of the EU border and involving increased time and  expense. 

There might be a lesson there for the wider economy?

Putting aside the legality of either paying IVA or VAT, we have an excellent example of a dividend that feels almost as good as smashing oneself in the face with a cast iron frying pan.


“Payment declined, please contact your card issuer”.

There are quite a few messages that bring you information you did not want to know, while also increasing your frustration point to ‘nose bleed, migraine inducing, kick a cat (any cat)’ level. This payment declined message is just one of the many. 

It’s right up there with ‘your rail replacement bus service will leave from platform f*cked’. It is also up there for frustration with finding that you have bought salt and vinegar crisps instead of cheese and onion, because you forgot the manufacturer switched the bag colour quite some time ago but, to you, green is always cheese and onion. My other favourite in this delightful sack of information shite is ‘Toilet Closed’ just as your ‘turtle’s head’ is popping out to ascertain whether it is safe to venture abroad. 

In this digital paradise of the 21st century, these messages increasingly arrive via the miracle of technology, as they were probably designed to do…by weirdos in California brought up on a diet of pulp TV, coca-cola, digital porn and absent parenting. 

So, I believe there is chap or two in a place called Silicon Valley who have decided that our lives were not complete, and so they invented Apps. Silicon Valley, contrary to some wishful thinking,  is not the place where you can find breast implants to suit all tastes and sizes. Rather it is a strange place far away somewhere beyond the Tamar. It is populated mostly by pony tailed, goatee bearded, pale faced men in T shirts and jeans who have only a passing relationship to personal hygiene rather than a fully engaged jojoba infused one. They spend their lives in the dark, in between wanks unblinking at computer screens, as their binary minds flit between a 0 and a 1. 

I’m not being deliberately sexist in excluded women from this technological cesspit, I’m sure there are a few of them working as App developers who are as obsessed by numbers, logic and certainty as the boys are, and whose empathetic understanding, emotional intelligence and raw human feeling have taken a bus to a permanent holiday elsewhere. But this obsession with humanity free technology does seem to be a male preserve. I’d not be surprised if the boys wouldn’t be happier with an ‘emotion free’ robot woman sex bot with pre set and programmable wanking skills than a real female human being. If they could design one with a prostate ticking function, even I might be interested. 

The tech boys of Silicon Valley’s preferred answer to any question about the universe, human relationships or haute couture is either ‘Yes or No’. Nuance, subtlety or even common, human experience of everyday matters such as car parking, passes them by unnoticed and ignored like a pork sausage at a bar-mitzvah. They’ve more chance of cracking the enigma code than understanding common human experiences such why a woman might like to wear make up or indeed why women choose to get their breasts pumped up with bouncy cleavage inducing plastic. Mind, I’m not sure I completely understand the latter but I do accept it might be fun. Women are to them a source of mystery inflamed tumescence matched only by a total lack of skill, knowledge and understanding which forces them into an incomprehensible retreat when confronted by a living example of femininity who might ask awkward questions about feelings, empathy and sex. 

‘Yes or No’ is a fine option to questions such  “would you like an enema?” But it falls short as the only option at a candle lit first date restaurant dinner. Your dinner date is likely to poke her fork in your eye if you continue to answer questions about your family, interests and previous girlfriends with only Yes or No. This binary response is also totally inadequate when confronting even the most basic of human tasks such as weasel tinkering, soap dodging and tiddlywinks. Each requires complex cognitive processing beyond the simple if/then or either/or binary alternatives of the Silicon Valley App designer mind. 

We of course now have an App for everything thanks to the dedication of this small army of post modern hippy techno-incels whose stage of emotional development is still in nappy stage allowing them to defecate their values and assumptions loosely upon the rest of us. 

In the olden days when life was a simple choice between staying alive or being convicted of being a witch, old money served as a primary means of transaction. A few copper or gold coins could purchase anything from donkey’s milk, a bag of turnips or the Throne of England (if you threw in the odd murder). This pertained right up until recently. Sure, donkey’s milk is rarely on offer, turnips are still in fashion and the throne of England is still secured by a vast fortune starting with an expensive education, but cash got you through the day, even if there was no ‘phone signal’. 

Take parking your horse. 

Simple, just ride up to the pub, tie up and go. Maybe you needed to grease the palms of the local scallies to keep an eye on your horse rather than leading it away to the dog meat factory. What you did not need to do was ensure your phone connects to the internet through something called ‘mobile roaming’ ensuring of course one’s ‘data bundle’ was large enough. Life was simpler.

Parking Apps are supposed to take away the stress of calamities such as not having enough spare change. Yet they don’t cater for those possessing the wit of an overcooked ring of fried calamari so that App instructions appear as dense and as impenetrable to interpretation as the technical manual of the Large Hadron Collider. The yes/no, 0 and 1 approach to the complex algorithms running these Apps have to be carefully designed to take in every eventuality of human fuckwittery using it. And yet fuckwittery often trumps technical analysis, largely because no amount of technical analysis can predict just how deep is the well of fuckwittery human beings can draw from. One snag completely overlooked by the Tech bros is that their Apps have to work in places like Redruth Town centre, where a mobile phone signal vacuum rivals a black hole for sucking all light into it, preventing its escape.

Back to parking. 

The theory is straight forward…open the App (assuming you have already downloaded it), enter the location code, decide how long you want to park for, enter your car registration number, ensure you have a valid payment method and press ok. Then through the miracle of electricity and radio waves (?) you can continue the day safe in the knowledge you car will not be towed away.

I am 100% confident of the process as I walk away from the parking meter to catch a train to Plymouth with about 20 minutes to spare. Nothing could really be easier especially if one has tried it before. I walk across the car park not quite with the confident swagger of the man who absolutely knows the God owes him a living, but I am pretty sure paying for parking will not cause a psychotic episode or a personal emotional crisis resulting in finding oneself curled into a ball in the police cell covered in blood, kebab and truncheon bruises. 


Put together a lack of mobile signal strong enough in that part of Redruth from car park to station, then blocked access to the Wifi at the station until I rejoin with a new password/username combination, intermittent connections on the train, a fraud signal to my bank regarding the card payment, waiting until I could speak to a human being and clear the credit card for use whilst also trying to ensure the VPN is connected, tunnels, an increasing feeling of hypertension strong enough to burst an aortic aneurysm (should I have one`), and it takes until the train is pulling into St Austell before I get confirmation that I have paid for parking. This took about 35 minutes from the moment I walked confidently away from the parking meter. 

I only hope that the App, and the technology supporting it, that sets off Putin’s Nuclear missiles is just as bad, forcing him to give up pressing the button and instead go looking for donkey’s milk,   Turnips and a witch to burn. I also hope Putin has more options than Yes/No when deciding whether to turn most of the world into molten rock and ash. If he does decide to press, I hope  his first targets are Silicon Valley Twats. 

Mind, if he finds himself in Redruth he’ll be out of signal.

Ole Moonbeam

“Ole George Moonbeam…innit”


“Moonbeam is trying to ban farming…”

This is the sort of delicious aural titbit one cannot but overhear in the snug of a proper pub. I’m currently doing my impression of a vapid wastrel who has nothing better to do than drink pints of Spingo next to a log fire in the back bar of the Blue Anchor in Helston. At lunchtime.

My long suffering partner is next door in the town’s Methodist chapel attending the funeral of someone distantly related to someone in the family whose historical links are lost in the deep recesses of Time’s library. There is an entry in a dusty leathery bound book among many volumes entitled ‘Family Connections in the West Cornwall Agricultural Community (Mullion-Wendron Parishes) volumes 1-10.’ Nobody knows who wrote it because no one reads it because no one knows it’s there so it provides knowledge no one wants for nobody. 

Except for the odd funeral.

Ann says that I’m better off in the Blue Anchor than festering in a pew next to her while muttering blasphemies in a less than hushed tone as the Minister intones something about God’s grace and ashes. I’m the one muttering for clarity’s sake. Given her reasonable argument and fine judgment, I concur. I have had to make a detour towards a pasty shop as the venerable ale house does not sell food and welcomes pasty eaters. 

The log fire sits within its soot stained granite lintel lightly crackling in the quiet of the snug bar. There is thankfully no music, no TV and no loud hen parties high on Prosecco, disinhibition and latent infidelity. The only noise is the gently pouring of a Spingo and the intellectual discourse at the bar. One can hear the old wooden chairs creaking under the weight of their patrons’ lardy arses. 

The first bite of the pasty is to be relished in the sure knowledge that there is plenty of pasty to go.  The anticipation of a pastry and meat based degustatory ecstasy, is electric. The pint of ‘Middle’ sits in accompaniment awaiting its call to the banquet, a call which will surely come.

Log Fire. Pasty. Pint.


 With the nearby talking of bollocks as entertainment. 


“George Monbiot…him of  the liberal self satisfied Guardian, ‘ee wants to ban farming.” 

Two gentlemen of a certain grey headed, grey bearded, beer bellied, wonky walking stick age, sit at the bar and take it in turns to suggest opinions whose certainty of expression is inversely related to evidence of veracity. Their, no doubt arthritic and gout fuelled, demeanours are tempered by ale, reminiscence and lack of spousal correction. 

I don’t find out why or how George wants to do ban farming at first…it is just opinion dressed as fact. Turns out that old moonbeam, according to old git the first, is ‘anti cow’. It is opined that he suggests (no he doesn’t) that cows are the cause of carbon emissions because they fart carbon. The fact that they fart methane, a greenhouse gas which traps heat far more efficiently than carbon dioxide, escapes them just as methane escapes a cow’s arse: silently while increasing the amount of hot air.

However, a core feature of pub talk is its loose relationship to fact. Facts just get in the way, as does science and expertise. This is what makes pub talk fun; bar the fact that pub talkers also vote. There is a theory that democracy requires an informed public, something which seems to be, along with tomatoes, increasingly in short supply.

“That bleddy shit sadiq khan, see what damage he’s done to London”. 

I’m imagining a damage of Luftwaffe proportions, or the release of plagues of locusts or relentless acid rain. Maybe Khan has forced Millwall supporters to eat Halal vegan beef testicles or he has made bum sex mandatory in Kensington and Chelsea coffee shop toilets? 

The three old chaps at the bar continue to channel the Daily Mail. I’m just waiting for a bit of ‘little boat’  based racism caused by remainers along the lines of ‘send in the Navy’. 

“We can’t grow tomatoes because we can’t afford to heat the greenhouses because of zero carbon”. 

Because of net zero policies? Our salad plates are incomplete because ‘someone’ wants to reduce carbon emissions. Nothing to do then with supply chains that affect the U.K. but not the rest of Europe. 

The conversation then makes a broad sweep through Middle East politics, Ukraine and ‘that bastard Putin’, and Keir Starmer. I suspect a Kalahari bushman herding his cattle in a fly infested desert, is as well informed and less opinionated as the gentlemen at the bar or the Editor of billionaire owned newspapers.

I blame Spingo for unleashing their inner moron. But to be fair, if your source of information is limited to the inane ramblings of goons, lunatics and cockwombles who fear the British way of life is under threat by dark hued purveyors of Tikka Masala, jerk chicken and goat, then your world view will be tainted towards the halcyon days of the 1930s when we we were free to rule the waves, laugh at pooftahs and slap the wife a bit in a ‘domestic’. 

Perhaps I exaggerate. 

It takes all sorts it seems. 

12 Rules for Life


A short while ago a Canadian clinical psychologist decided that the world needed a bit of a slap and a wake up call. His name is Jordan Peterson and he has gone on to make a good deal of money putting liberals and feminists ‘in their place’ for daring to transgress the laws of God. He wrote a fatuous book on the matter called ’12 Rules for Life’. Well, here are mine. Warning  – this is not for the sensitive, there are rude words.