A Second (or perhaps third, fourth or fifth) Rate Country?

It has been a fair few months since I decided to let my thoughts spill into cyber space. Mostly because we’ve been too busy with the work on the house. But now we are back home it’s time to let rip. Actually I have been goaded from my usual inertia by receiving an email last night from some kind reader who actually said he agreed with most of my sentiments; not sure if I was more amazed that he agreed or that someone actually reads this drivel!

However, a pent up desire to hit the keyboard has been building for a day or two since reading this article written by Stephanie Flanders on the BBC website. In the article one of her friends said that London was ‘A first-rate city with a second-rate country attached’ (presumably one should infer that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are probably somewhere between third and fifth rate?).

I must of course overlook Stephanie’s obvious lack of good judgement in respect of her friends; this is a women who may well have shagged (as she dated them – reference Wikipedia) Ed Balls and Ed Milliband. That alone brings a whole new meaning to the sayings  ‘a political cock up’ and a ‘right balls up’.

However, I can’t overlook the crap in the rest of the article with such gems as ‘The Office for National Statistics reckons that the average Londoner contributes 70% more to Britain’s national income than people in the rest of the country’. Really? Now this peasant out here in his unfashionable and obviously dire, bleak part of Wales would like to present you sophisticated city types (and I’m not inferring that all Londoners are like this) with a few home truths.

Firstly London is only ‘wealthy’ (I’m using wealth here in it’s monetary sense as the article clearly seems to have missed the point that you don’t need money to be wealthy) because of the City of London and secondly because lots of rich people with ‘dodgy’ money moved their assets there to get them out of another country. This is aided and abetted by the fact that the centre of power is there and that the politicians, the powerful and the media ‘scratch each others backs’ (you got any thoughts on this Steph?). In the case of the former that money is not created but skimmed off the backs of other folks (mostly in the third world). In the case of the dodgy money that too has, in the main, been looted from other citizens in another country. In the case of the government they have stolen power from people outside of London and relocated it there.

Perhaps I should rephrase what Steph’s friend had to say and tell him how I see it; ‘A First Rate Country with a cess pit attached to it’. As most of the wealth there is not earned, but rather stolen from those who do ‘real work’. As far as I know actually creating something is the only way of creating economic wealth. Then again I don’t have a first class degree in Philosopy, Politics and Economics like Steph; which is kind of ironic as I warned my children about the dangers of it all coming ‘crashing down’ at the height of the boom. I still shudder at the memory of the smirking chancellor ‘Crash Gordon’ repeating his no more boom and bust speech every budget.

As I’ve said previously the City, London and all those people who live there feeling so superior because of their ‘good taste’ can only exist because of the hard work of good, honest everyday working folk. Where do think that delicious piece of rare lamb on your plate in a swanky London restaurant came from? It certainly wasn’t reared with dedication in some glass palace of an office where they have fast internet access and shift money uselessly around to take a percentage.

It was (for example) raised by some Welsh hill farmer who got up at some god forsaken hour in his unfashionable farm house (without nice furniture from John Lewis). He is lucky to have any internet connection because the private companies only want to ‘cherry pick’ the profitable, easy areas (thanks Maggie for selling off essential assets like BT, water and closing down the mines) in the cities. However, HIS community may of course have to have wind farms and pylons imposed on it to send electric power in the direction of London; because London needs it. Yep, it’s really essential that the advertising lights are kept on to sell even more worthless crap to keep profits high in the good old City of London.

He will probably have struggled through the snow these past few weeks to ensure that his animals got food, water and shelter because he cares deeply for them; something you should remember as you tuck into your delicious lamb, in ‘oh so fashionable’ Kensington.

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with a photo I took last week in our part of the world and remind you of a saying by someone far wiser than Stephanie’s friend.

‘When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money’

Snow on the Hills in March last week here in Wales. Are you more wealthy walking up Oxford Street, buying more consumer crap or walking up here as free as a bird?

The Diamond Jamboree


Unfortunately because of the impending work on the house we haven’t been able to take off to a Republic somewhere whilst the rich woman with several large houses and numerous servants, paid for by us, continues with her PR offensive to ensure that when she ‘shuffles of this mortal coil’ the family will continue to get ‘loads of dosh’. As Newsthump puts it: ‘The Queen, who has been the head of the UK’s most prolific family of benefit claimants since 1952, said she felt “deeply moved” by the amount of cash she has received over the years without even having to queue up and sign for it.


‘The Family’ went through a fairly rough patch for a while. Joe Public was starting to see through the pantomime what with Charles being an adulterer whilst he was married to that lovely ‘Saint Diana’, some of the others getting divorced (despite mummy being head of the Church that frowns on such things) and Andrew being friends with an American paedophile and having meetings with Muammar Gaddafi.

But ‘hey ho’ lets soften up a gullible public with an expensive Royal Wedding and then go for the full on PR offensive with a Jamboree. They’ll soon be shouting ‘hurrah’ and doffing their caps in a suitably servile manner once again.

Talking of servile if I have to listen to the gushing, sycophantic ramblings of Nicholas Witchell for much longer every time I turn on the Beeb I’ll be feeling more nauseous than I do already. Whilst I’m a big fan of the BBC they really should just report the facts, somewhere towards the bottom of the news agenda. Personally I find the fact that about a billion people go to bed hungry every night needs bringing to Joe Public’s attention rather more than this bean-feast. The BBC seems to have become the official 24/7 propaganda channel for the Royal Family and the Olympics.

It really is like we’ve fallen through a time hole into an age where nobody questions the utterly bizarre situation that in a modern country in 2012 some people get given a load of castles, servants and treasure simply because of who their dad was; then the rest of us are expected to bow down in front of them. Mind you it’s even more bizarre that people accept it.

Now before Mr Angry Royalist of Royal Tunbrige Wells starts posting about how disgusted he is about my lack of patriotism I should just point out that I have no personal hatred of the woman and she’s more than welcome to call by for a cup of tea any time (although I’m not installing a new WC for her at a cost of £5000 as she seems to expect; does she crap solid gold or something?). It’s just that I take exception at her and her entourage living in unbridled luxury, at the expense of hard working folk, just because of which bed they were born in or (in certain cases) because they were deemed suitable breeding stock (i.e. there isn’t too much mongrel in the blood).

And before someone else starts off the ‘but she works so hard and brings in loads of tourists’ crap can I just say I’d agree with the former if she’d been working12 hour days, six days a week cleaning NHS toilets for the last 60 years and as for the latter that’s hardly a good reason as no doubt turning the Palace into an upmarket brothel would pull in the overseas punters.

Jubilee Marketing

Of course the cynic in me would also say that Dave and his public school mates are loving it because it’s a distraction from what’s really going on; but then Bread and Circuses aren’t exactly a new concept. Deep in debt? Lost your job? Lost your home? Never mind; wave a piece of coloured cloth on the end of a stick and everything will be fine.


Baltimore Fiddle Festival and Some Thoughts

Early May 2012 saw us setting off in Huey, our campervan, for Ireland. We headed off at first for East Clare and after calling in to Peppers Bar to see who was about we visited our good friends Michael and Dorothy and their family in their excellent B&B at Clondanagh Cottage. If you are ever visiting the west of Ireland I can’t recommend their hospitality too much!

We then headed just across the border to Kinvara in Galway for The Cuckoo Fleadh, a rather extended weekend of traditional music and drinking, to search out a few sessions before going on to Connemara. We then drove south, heading for the Baltimore Fiddle Festival stopping off on the way on the Dingle and Kerry Peninsulas. Finally we travelled back north east to Dublin staying overnight in the Wicklow mountains on the way before returning to Wales via Rosslare.

Camping on Valentia Island
Over night stop on Valentia Island, Kerry in our Camper Van

For us there are two different Irelands. The one that is represented by the traditional musicians who keep the tradition alive with their amazing musicianship. Just in these few days we listened to Edel Fox, Andrew MacNamara, Thomas Bartlett, Dennis Cahill, Martin Hayes, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Sam Amidon, Cleek Shrey and Nic Gareiss. Most have devoted much of their lives to learning their craft and tradition. The other Ireland is the one that rushed headlong into the nonsense that became the infamous Celtic Tiger. A land of speculation, institutional corruption, garden decking, hot tubs and men in pink shirts driving 4x4s and talking excitedly into mobile phones about their next ‘Real Estate’ purchase in Bulgaria.

This  two-facedness was apparent when we stepped into a bar in a village on the Dingle. The pub looked very traditional and even sported a plaque giving it some ‘Trad Pub Music status’. I should have known better when the menu outside was promoting their Chinese food. Inside there was a cosy fire and a large plasma TV which, about 5 minutes after we sat down with a pint to await pretty much the only non Chinese item on the menu, was turned over to ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ or some such programme. Until now I’ve not watched one of these shows and my worst fears were realised. A variety of truly dreadful acts were loudly cheered by a studio audience of imbeciles and was presumably watched by many millions of cerebrally challenged morons who clearly don’t have two neurons to rub together. First came an appalling girl singer followed by a dance act who cheekily misspelt their name to start with a ‘K’. I can’t remember what they called themselves but it should have been ‘Kuntz’. The teenage girl singer, whose sole talent seemed to comprise a pair of decent legs in a short skirt, was ‘singing’ some anodyne song with a voice that had all the charisma of public service broadcast in North Korea. When she had finished the judges, the two female ones of whom seem to have just come back from a face painting competition, pronounced their verdict. By now I’d lost the will to live so finishing my food and resisting the need to vomit (not from the food) we headed out on onwards to Baltimore Fiddle Fair.

As I write this I wonder if I’m just a miserable old git, elitist or probably both? Am I just sneering at what other people seem to enjoy? So what if someone enjoys such banality? Then, no doubt like my elders before me, I muse over the lowering of standards to the lowest possible denominator. Are people so fecking stupid that they can’t even get out and watch some live music for themselves and decide if it is good or not?

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and fright­ened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin read­ing.

Take down a musi­cal instrument.
Let the beauty we Love be what we do.
There are hun­dreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

People seem to be sleepwalking into a packaged world where the advertising executives are trying to control what they think so that they can sell them more crap.

A world where people are so divorced from nature that thy think meat comes wrapped in cellophane in TWATCO’s. A world where people think they have talent because their ‘friends’ on Facebook tell them they have.

Loads of Brilliant Beaches to Stop at near Baltimore
Loads of Brilliant Beaches to Stop at near Baltimore

Baltimore Fiddle Festival was the antidote I needed. It was our first trip here but the amazing list of musicians that have been here over the years and played in small bars, rooms and marquees is almost a ‘who’s who’ of traditional music. This weekend was no exception and it would have been great to stay longer but we had to head up to Dublin.

In the Wicklow Mountains
In the Wicklow Mountains

Things only got better when we did get to Dublin, via an overnight rough camp in the Wicklow mountains, and not just because Liz got to see a shower for the first time in a week! We were in Dublin to see ‘The Gloaming’. This band are made up of some of the best trad musicians around who are pushing the boundaries away from the ‘trad’ tag. This Irish new wave doesn’t suit all the traditionalists; but of course music always evolves and needs to or else it just becomes repetition. We had been at their first ever gig in Dublin last August and now we were back for a ‘one off’ gig this year. It was a very, very special night; it must have been because even the Irish President turned up to the rather unglamorous venue at Vicar Street. Their trad tunes and songs were played on the edge with Thomas Bartlett (who also opened with his childhood friend Sam Amidon) playing some sublime piano. I probably shouldn’t use the word ‘play’ it’s more that he feels the music throwing in single notes and chords together with plucked and damped notes on the piano strings. Iarla Ó Lionáird’s singing (and I can’t understand a word of Gaelic) made you want to cry at the beauty of it. But I doubt that the media muppets who trotted out the bilge on the plasma TV will ever understand that music is about emotion not the plastic crap foisted on an acquiescing public between the commercials. The principal purpose of the whole exercise being to sell them even more crap (such as air fresheners) that they don’t even need in the first place.

And if you want emotion no one really puts their ‘heart’ in to it more than Martin Hayes. When he plays music, he doesn’t just play notes; he becomes the music and when it is over you feel drained by the emotional journey he has taken you on. You feel spiritually uplifted and know that you have been transported and transfixed in some world in another place. I could of course just be talking complete bollocks as a tone deaf Englishman who has absolutely no musical ability in his body. On the other hand I’ve always been able to make my own mind up and I’ll choose Martin Hayes, Iarla Ó Lionáird,Thomas Bartlett and the rest over what some TV executive deems to be talent any day.


Is Melvyn Bragg the Most Boring Person on the Radio?

It is a rainy morning here in Wales (no scoffing about the Welsh weather it has been remarkably dry up until now and our newly planted trees are enjoying a watering) so no need for us to rush to get up. When we did it was time for a leisurely breakfast of home made bread and home made marmalade.

Being a creature of habit I flicked on the radio which is pretty much pre tuned to BBC Radio 4 (which probably is the standard behaviour for middle class ‘old farts’ like us). Actually I don’t know how to retune it as nothing yet has grabbed my attention so much that I must listen to it. So generally I listen to a bit of the Today program to keep me vaguely attuned to what is going on in the world outside our valley. But of course, being a ‘prickly old git’ I tend to end up turning it off, or at least hurling verbal abuse at it, when yet another slime ball politician is given air time to feed the population more bullshit. Wouldn’t it be great if just one of the tossers  was honest for once and said something like; ‘We’ve been enjoying lavish lifestyles on the backs of the poor in the ‘third world’ for years and borrowing way beyond our means to fund it. Growing of GDP (as presently worshipped to get us out of the shit) in the future is impossible in a world of finite resources. With the oilfields depleting and Peak Oil somewhere close by, cheap oil is a thing of the past. We have a large population living on a small little island, we owe huge amounts of money, have unsustainable lifestyles and basically we’re fecked. So you better get used to having less. Meanwhile us (politicians, bankers, royalty etc.) are keeping our indexed linked pensions, massive bonuses and palaces etc) because we’re worth it and you mugs can keep paying for them’?

‘Thought for the Day’ is also guaranteed to have me reaching for the off button as there is no way I can stomach having to listen to some ‘believer in some super tooth fairy’ spouting on about their thoughts and ludicrous beliefs. Even if I was being really generous and agree that these ‘nut jobs’ should be able to spout this bollox at least give us Atheists an equal platform.

Anyway, I digress, as it was still raining I made more fresh coffee and spread more marmalade on yet another piece of toast (yes readers this is the life of the retired) just as the clock ticked past 9.00 a.m. and Melvyn Bragg came on the radio muttering something about Plato. For fecks sake does that man sound boring or what? He may be intelligent (I’m not clever enough to know) but he could be prescribed on the NHS for insomniacs (take 5 minutes of Melvyn ‘nocte’ and you’ll be out like a light). Holy cow; I’d rather listen to ‘The Archers’ and that should have been put out of its misery years ago.

At this stage just before reaching for the off switch yet again I had a short fantasy about being in an episode of Farther Ted.

Father Ted
Ted, where the feck is Melvyn when you need him?
Father Ted: Who’s got the most boring voice?
Billy: What?
Father Ted: Of the lot of us, who’s got the most boring voice?
Father Fitzgerald: (extremely dull voice) That’d be me, Ted…

      Me: (extremely pissed off voice) That’d be Melvyn Bragg,  Ted


High Salaries and the B(w)ankers

We’re both pretty laid back and don’t get usually get excited enough about things to get off our backside and blog about things political. Why do you think we retired to Wales? – partly so that we can live amongst decent, hard working, straightforward folk and don’t have to listen to the endless clap trap spouted by London-centric politicians and the media.

Says it all really.

However, the recent excitement in the media about bankers bonuses and executive pay deserve some straight talking so I’m going to give it both barrels (rant alert).

It really is time that someone stopped this greed and selfishness. The huge salaries and bonuses, we are told, are essential if we are to prevent this tiny percentage of selfish, money grabbing arseholes from moving overseas. Without their expertise how would Britain cope?

Well I’ve got news; the grave yards are full of people who thought they were indispensable. If these bankers (rhyming slang) who, in the main, don’t actually do anything productive other than skim money off hard working folk (usually in the third world ) lower down the food chain disappeared tomorrow there would be dozens of others who could easily do the same job with a few weeks training.

And if these twats are so fecking clever how come the fecked it all up in the first place and expect everyone else to pay for it?

It really is time to re-prioritise our whole set of values as a society. If someone is worth a million quid a year (they aren’t) because they are so indispensable then it must follow that the doctor who can cure them when they are sick must be worth even more (not to mention the nurse who nurses them or the teacher who taught them to add up).

Personally I’d argue that no one (other than a self employed person working entirely for them self) should be allowed to earn more than 20 times the lowest salary in any organisation. And if they don’t like it and they want to take their overrated talents elsewhere – well tell them to feck off with a cheery two fingered salute.


This World is Truly Barking Mad

“It is absurd to accept the weakling excuse that a world which can send men to the moon cannot join with sufficient willpower to get food to everybody who needs it.” ~ Neal Donald Walsh

Once again it’s Sunday morning and I’m in contemplative mood. Perhaps because I went to neighbours party last night and had plenty to eat and drink before walking back up the lane to our house. But once again I’m struck by the absurdity of a world where people are dying in the Horn of Africa whilst a quick Google reveals that the annual global air fresheners market will reach $8.3 billion by 2015. I dread to think what the worldwide spend on dog food is whilst  people starve.

Child in Ethiopa
A poor village boy we met in Ethiopia- Can you look him in the eye and tell him air freshener is more important?

We (mankind) really are as mad as the proverbial box of frogs.


The Royal Welsh Show 2011

Well we trotted along to the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelwedd, Builth Wells yesterday. As a recent incomer to Wales and only having a smallholding I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment in detail. However, we had a great day. The peripheral car parks (park and ride) and traffic management worked great as far as we were concerned and we sailed into the show with no traffic problems (on the second busiest Tuesday ever) and that was a lot better than a previous experience at the Bath and West.

The show left me feeling very positive about about the rural community (despite me being a critic sometimes of some farming practices). In a world of ‘sleaze balls’, corruption and political chicanery (this on the afternoon parliament was investigating more wrong doing in the Murdoch empire) farmers were showing some stupendous livestock, youngsters were involved in all aspects from shearing competitions to horse riding to helping out the family look after the stock.

Sadly your ‘average city dweller’ who unwraps their pork chops out of the supermarket packaging does not have the slightest idea of the work and dedication that goes into their food. Whilst happy to whitter on endlessly about their favourite restaurant or celebrity chef it really struck home that they don’t have a clue about the really important bit at the sharp end. If farming could only do better in getting its message over and really show people how important it is to everyone.

In a whimsical moment I sometimes think it should be compulsory for ‘Joe Public’ to have to spend a month working on a farm and engage (many for the first time) with nature and where their food comes from. You don’t see too many obese sheep shearers and if you’ve ever had a go you will know that is one of the hardest, backbreaking jobs going. Perhaps a community sentence of a month’s sheep shearing would be far more beneficial for some of our criminals than the other deterrents not to mention that it would be a lot cheaper than many NHS interventions for obesity.

I was also pretty impressed by the teams of young riders on very fast ponies displaying their riding and athletic skills in a series of obstacle and relay type races (known as mounted games). I doubt if these youngsters figure too high on the ‘delinquent radar’. No doubt some will view these comments as right wing (strange as I’m usually accused of being fairly radical) but I’m just saying how I see it; that a good dose of reality amongst these hard working country folk is worth far more than the endless trivia of the celebrity obsessed, tawdry media controlled, shallow society that we have become.


Dennis Potter Must be Having the Last Laugh

Events this week are a timely reminder of the ever astute words of Dennis Potter in 1993:

“I’m going to get down there in the gutter where so many journalists crawl… what I’m about to do is to make a provenly vindictive and extremely powerful enemy… the enemy in question is that drivel-merchant, global huckster and so-to-speak media psychopath, Rupert Murdoch… Hannibal the Cannibal.”

and the famous interview just before his death


A ‘Real’ Sunday Morning

Got back late last night from a wedding in Bristol. This was our second foray into the big metropolis in three days having driven to Bath a day or so earlier to see Martin and Dennis in concert at the Assembly Rooms. So this was a chance to have a ‘real’ Sunday morning. By that I mean we could get up late and do absolutely nothing. ‘Absolutely nothing’ is of course a comparative term because even in doing absolutely nothing one still has to make breakfast or wash up etc. most of which usually falls to Liz (sorry).

This morning is dull and rainy; but I don’t care I never fail to wonder at how lucky we are to live here as I look out of our bedroom window.

From our Bedroom Window
The View From Our Bedroom Window on a Wet Sunday Morning

The recent trips to ‘civilisation’ just reinforce how depressing I find our culture (I’m not sure that we really have a culture here in the UK) ; shops selling the same crap and people putting up with the same old crap. On the trip to Bath I’d bought a copy of John Peel’s Autobiography/biography Margrave Of The Marshes, in a charity shop, which I’ve just finished reading this morning over my second cup of coffee. It’s great in places, weak in others but did have me laughing in fits and is a refreshing antidote to the usual famous person who is  ‘up their own backside’. Not that I’ve met many famous people or indeed read any of their autobiographies. There would seem to be little point in Super Injunctions as far as I’m concerned because I don’t even know who these people are, what they do or what they look like. Then again I could probably tell you who the original members of the Irish group Planxty were.

I wish that people would wake up. I’m sure that I’m over generalising but people seem to be content to be led like lambs to the slaughter through life. How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in it! How scary it was to reread Brave New world a few months back. At least in the late 60’s and 70’s youngsters would rant against injustice and the Vietnam war. Now they are more likely to need counselling because they’ve lost their mobile phone or because Primark doesn’t have their ‘must have’ item of consumer fashion in stock.

Most times I just feel like a fish out of water when I visit the big city. Don’t get me wrong I love some cities but I can’t see the point of shopping malls that all look the same where dazed consumers add more debt to their credit cards for the short term buzz they get to escape from their day to day lives working in jobs they hate, to pay off the same credit card bill plus interest.

I can’t see the point of celebrity magazines or Big Brother or any other ‘reality TV’ (What the f**k is all that about, I just don’t get it – some misfits in a house! Why would anyone waste their time even turning it on?). I can’t understand why footballers earn more in a couple of days for kicking a pig’s bladder full of air around a grass field than a nurse gets in a year. I don’t understand why anyone (almost everyone) moans about their lot in the west and look glum when the people I meet in the ‘third world’ have virtually nothing, no running water, no health care, no job and smile all day long. Why on earth is someone now a ‘celebrity’ just because they have appeared on TV? Someone should slap these morons around the head (and the people who watch said TV) and tell them straight ‘Look love just because you’ve got big hooters and appear on TV doesn’t make you a star – it just means you’re a vacuous twat with big hooters’.

Ah well, just the rant of a grumpy old git you are no doubt thinking? You’re probably correct.


Almost Banned from B&Q

One of my (John’s) unusual traits (some would use the word puerile) is my complete hatred of corporate business and multinationals. I have on many occasions been known to take direct action in the supermarket by ‘accidentally’ knocking over some display of consumer goods that I find annoyingly blocking my genial saunter up their crappy aisles (I digress). Indeed my eldest son was particularly aghast when at a dreadful and expensive motorway service station (the type where they extort vast sums of money because there is nowhere else to go to have a leak and take a break) I pocketed an unopened bottle of tomato ketchup to use later at home because the menu helpfully exclaimed ‘free sauce’. Without any mention of a limit to this offer I felt it only fair to take them up on their largesse and get back some of the cash that they had previously extorted.

However, being a hypocrite, I do occasionally find myself ensnared in their evil clutches. So it came to pass today, when Liz and I  decided to set about building a log shelter to keep our ever increasing stack of wood from fallen branches dry for the winter. Being somewhat surprised by a pleasant sunny day (after several days of soggy rain) we set about the task only to realise that in our unpreparedness we were lacking some essentials.

Firing up the Landrover I took off to B&Q to get the missing bits and pieces. Grabbing one of those large trolleys I set off to the rear of the store only to find the aisle fairly well blocked by other trolleys of stock that the poor inmates were obviously trying to find space for in the helter skelter of having to meet the corporate sales targets handed down from ‘on high’. As I wheeled past bits of overhanging stock flew off and the staff looked on aghast particularly when I exclaimed ‘for feck’s sake’ (or words to that effect). One female inmate did start to remonstrate with me and I did, in a somewhat firm but not rude (I hasten to add), manner, inform her that they were clearly failing in their obligations under the The Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 – the poor woman was somewhat taken aback to find out that the Troglodyte personage in front of her had been, in another life, an Environmental Health Officer (who had seen the light and decided any life was better than watching the clock tick by in local government – I’m digressing again) who clearly knew his stuff (even barristers do not know that The Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 has an etc. at the end).

Anyway I was happily (that’s a lie I’m never happy spending my dosh in such places) collecting the things I needed when the manager appeared and asked if he could help. Luckily I refrained from one of my more obtuse replies (like could he lend me 20 quid?) as he continued to inform me that one of his female employees had been reduced to tears by my actions and that if there was any further trouble he’d have to ask me to leave the store. This left me with at least a couple of dilemmas (is that a dichotomy?); firstly should I have felt amazed that someone who deals with Joe Public all day has to go off for a cry (and probably a week’s sick leave) when they meet someone who doesn’t conform to the usual show of devotion in the temple of commerce or secondly should I just tell him that being banned from B&Q would not actually affect my life too much and I think I could exist without going there again (not to mention the revenge I could cause in other stores by ‘accidentally’ knocking over the annoying displays of consumer goods – sorry if you’re having deja vu). Anyway after I’d given him a full run down of his responsibilities, particularly the bit about safe access and egress (great word to bamboozle) under the aforementioned HASAWA (notice the sophisticated use of jargon to help confuse) he sheepishly backed down and offered me a 10 percent discount for my trouble.

After such an exciting start to the day the log shelter construction was a bit of an anti climax but it does look rather functional even if I say so myself.

Log Store
The Log Store (almost finished and sans logs)