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The First Post. Not the Last…

I suppose it starts here….

Can we close the circus, and open the club?

— Brian Potter.

Anyone who has been here before will know that I’ve edited this bit. Life has changed just too much. I’m still annoyed a lot, just by different things. As Blackadder once said, “If you can’t laugh what can you do – take up politics perhaps?”

I’m now living a townie life. Co-op over the road. Central heating, Indoor toilet, bathroom. After six years off grid I’m grateful every day for hot running water. Indeed, for ANY running water.

So instead of quietly growing cabbages, I’ll be making a complete nuisance of myself in politics. I’ve gone from living in a field with no electricity to becoming a national officer and Wales secretary of the Workers Party. I’m still growing trees, and I’ve still got my honesty stall. I can still be found around hedges at dusk, and I have no regrets. I’m also super glad I didn’t get planning permission. Life is much better in the town. I’m too old for the cold.

So anyhoo. Thanks for stopping by.

See you on the Fluff Politico road…. Onwards to revolution 🙂

This is Jodrell, and she’s a bit pissed off. Probably.

You can buy my books by yur. Click the pics x

Priorities

Couple of bees in my bonnet fam. There’s a post on facebook with a thread a mile long, discussing what recycling item goes in each bag or box. I’ve been watching with interest.

Last week, a local councillor was advertising that he had a brand new set of PCC recycling bins, for the princely sum of fifty pounds. Apparently they work great, and he’s really happy.

Meanwhile, at the foodbank, the packaging on the charity food is excessive to say the least. The packaging companies force you to take steps like cut the bottom off your Pringles, to put the metal in one bag, so that the tube can go in another, and the lid can go in yet another.

All this fuss, all this expense, all these first world concerns in a county where not many local wages can afford a home and where villages have three people living in them, the rest only being used for holiday homes and air B&Bs.

And at the end of it all, this trash that we worry so much about, and are encouraged to use a week’s food money on accommodating PCC and their refusal to hand out proper recycling receptacles, is being shipped to Malaysia and dumped on a beach. Our crap goes to them to sort out, to bury, to dispose of, but we can be very righteous, because we can proudly display the new status symbol, which is a bunch of plastic boxes on a made to measure trolly.

Yesterday I went into the doctor’s. The woman on the desk told me that I can’t get my Ventolin, because people “abuse the system” and I can’t make an appointment there and then, while I’m in the building, but I must go away and then phone them, knowing full well that people wait in excess of an hour for someone to answer.

I suggested that this might be something to do with the systematic privatisation of the NHS, which she vehemently denied and insisted it was because of Covid. The fact that there is one surgery to service 28,000 people seemed to be irrelevant to her. The thought that another surgery is clearly needed, was horrifying. She got very defensive. That situation would be fine and dandy were it not for Covid. Someone would definitely answer the phone then, with one line for 28,000 people. Yes absolutely. Of course they would. She even told me that there were free appointments most days, but you can’t actually book one of those appointments, because the only time you can ring for one is first thing in the morning, so all those spare appointments don’t get used, because you have to go home and phone for today’s spare appointments tomorrow. I’m yet to investigate whether you get charged for being on the line for 90 minutes listening to the same part of the same song over and over again. Someone enlighten me.

So. Councillors, stop demonstrating how better off you are than your ward constituents. Keep your flash new bins to yourself.

Ban bricks and mortar holiday homes. Holidaymakers want a status symbol? They can go and buy one of the quarter of a million pound chalets at Lydstep.

While we’re at it; a rent cap on private properties please. Stop charging 600 quid for a two bedroom house with no garden and then forcing people to claim benefit to pay their rent, using the taxpayer to pay some landlord for their asset.

And while we’re at it, build some bloody social housing. Stop calling affordable housing affordable housing when it’s not.

Sort out more doctor’s surgeries so that a pandemic doesn’t put the system on its knees. Make enough provision for people to access the health care they have paid for thought their taxes. Stop making people feel like they’re begging because they need their prescription. Stop stressing people out by not letting them see a doctor. Stop forcing them to use A&E. Stop forcing them to use the HNS direct line, which is a private enterprise.

And lastly, stop stealing plants from my front garden. Spare a thought for a world where people think it’s cushti to rob a big pot of chives and some fuchsias from a fellow worker. If you have to nick something I hear there’s valuable stuff on the street owned only by the upper echelons of society who can afford it.

Bins.   

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

What is it that makes most people slaver at the thought of owning their own bit of land and living simply from it? When put like that, it’s obvious. It sounds ever so wholesome. The old school peasantry and the serfs of old would tell you, if they could, how hard it was, back in their day. But we have the advantage of nipping to Tesco for everything we can’t grow. That’s what most land lubbers do. The Diggers and Dreamers Facebook page and the One Planet Council page, are bursting at the seams with people wanting to do what their ancestors before them did. It’s sold as the dream. There are many out there willing to help you achieve the dream.

Years ago, on site, there were very clear societal structures. There were the ones with the big wagons, who owned the sound systems and the tents that the parties were held in. These were, more often than not, “middle class” kids wanting to escape their parents. Can’t blame them for that. And at least they used their monies for good. Then there were the city squatters, and the brew crew, the ones who had nothing, and therefore their status was earned by being the ones with the least, by being the true underdogs, the oppressed. They were the real anarchists. The glue sniffers, grasping cans of Tennants Super like it was their last possession on earth. It usually was. And it wasn’t even usually theirs. They’d blagged it off the bloke with the big wagon and five hundred cans in the back for sale.

The old films of tepee valley show a bunch of people living what some would call the dream. Their accents reveal their backgrounds. They too, are upper class escapees. They remind me of the pioneers of exploration, like George Mallory; the aristocracy who have the time and the means to go off doing mad things like trying to climb Everest in a woolly and hobnails “because it’s there”.

These things grow and attract poor hangers on, and power tensions arise between the ones with the most, and the place gets overrun with madheads and people fall out and sites disperse and whatnot, much like Everest now attracts a massive amount of visitors and you can pay your way to the top, that is, after arguing over dates with all the other expeditions at base camp.

The same seems to be happening now in the world of living the land dream. Some money got together and built an eco-village. They proved it could be done. It’s now sold as the dream, to achieve similar. There are courses, there are open days, and the worst phenomenon of all, there are Woofers.

I don’t even know what it stands for and I don’t care. All I see is the word SERF. The landed gentry need work done on their land. So instead of doing what everyone else does, and getting a man in or doing it themselves, they invite armies of landless workers to their site on the promise of bean soup once a day and a nice campfire. The experience should be enough they say. You’re getting accommodation. They say. As landowners they are able to open their land up for free to any passing stonemason or tree surgeon and hey presto. Sorted.

How many times have I seen ads for people wanting people to come and plant trees? I planted my old site, four acres, on my own. It took time, but that’s the point. It took MY time. It was my land, and it was my responsibility. Why do people who are “living this dream” feel they don’t have time for this? Isn’t that what you’re doing it for? Is it because by doing OPD you’ve bought into the capitalist trick of business, accounts and turning profit? That now you’re doing the desk job you left again, just with a different emphasis? It’s not just the OPDers. It’s anyone with land. I see people wanting all sorts of skilled workers. Very skilled workers. To do very physically hard work. People who, in the real world, are paid many hundreds of pounds a day. And you’re going to let them stay on your land in a tent? How lovely. Is there a bath on this tent? Anyone with those kinds of skills has already learned how to home him or herself, I should imagine.

The fact that people think this is ok is what bothers me. There are arguments about it all the time. But who is coming to do these woofer jobs? Who are our market here for free workers? Here’s who. The homeless, who really need a home, the lost, who just need something, and probably more help than you can offer, and the idle who don’t need to sell their labour power for money because they have other means, that’s who.

In the first case, it’s modern day slavery. The slave owners housed and fed their slaves. They just didn’t pay them. In the second case, big job on your hands. You’re gonna need to hire a psych. The third, then you’re just filling your land with people who are essentially on a jolly. They may work well, they may learn skills. They may make friends. But then they’ll go and emulate what you’re doing, and buy into the weird society in miniature that seems to be emerging here. Or they will go back to the life they tried to escape, because you won’t need them anymore. Exponential rejection.

There will be arguments. There will be fights for power. There will be neighbour disputes. There will be fights. When selling eco villages as the big dream, they leave out the bit where the police get called to them more often that they get called to the Mount Estate in Milford.

There are no solutions being presented here. The ones who want to ban roads all drive around in diesel campers, often made my Volkswagon, done for emissions fraud and designed by the Nazis.

They use the roads they shout against to get to their favourite eco villages to be woofers, and they all have a jolly nice time.

You can all carry on with this. It makes no odds to me. But what you need to do is stop selling it as a big solution. You buying land and offering lentils helps nothing. You getting righteous if someone suggests a real progression to society yet offering no solution further than your cabbage yield helps nothing. Pretending to be saving the planet by being anti-China and pro-Greta helps nothing. Own it.

There are no individual solutions to social problems. Pay your workers.

Entering the Fray…

Funny old game, innit.. politics.

So many people say they hate politics. Lots of people hate politicians. I suppose problems can arise because of this.

I got some abuse off some bloke on facebook earlier, for being what he called, a politician. I’m not a politician. I work for a political party, but I’m not an elected politician by any means. I don’t even harbour any hopes that I will be after May the 6th.

We’re not standing in the elections to win. We’ve only been going five minutes. That’s an expectation that’s not even worth hoping for. And besides, I’m really busy with trees and branch building. Not tree branch. Party branch. And we’ve got loads of organisey stuff to do. The last thing I wanna be doing is driving to Cardiff every day to listen to Neil Hamilton. That’s not the point at all.

The point is, in case anyone is wondering, that for a small deposit you can get the posties to go leafletting for you, instead of having to do it yourself. Each party is entitled to one free leaflet drop. We did a crowdfunder to get some leaflets together, and off they go, already, I hear, in Aberdare, according to my buddy who lives there. Awaiting news from Cardiff and Vale chums as we speak.

The reason we’re running in South Wales Central, and not in Mid and West Wales, is quite simply that if you look at an election map, there are swathes of blue and yellow throughout Wales, with a little squirt of red around the valleys. George’s opinion was that if we were to have any chance at all of gaining an elusive seat, it would be there.

To win a seat on the regional list, you need around 6-7% of the vote or thereabouts. Our leaflet is going to 300,000 homes, each potentially containing two or three household members of voting age. So potentially that’s a reach to more than a million people. Much more than our party leafleteers could get round in the same amount of time. We have had a few new members in Cardiff already, so perhaps the leaflet is making its way about the place, and some people are looking. If we can get new members, get our name out there, show ourselves to be up for the game, then it’s all good. We can concentrate on getting ourselves into local council seats next year and keeping an eye on proceedings. We can start looking at campaigns that affect the people of Wales. One of these, of course, is the state of our NHS and the problems people are having all over Wales. There are very few NHS dentists, and highly populated, rural areas simply do not have enough resources or enough doctor’s surgeries to service such numbers. This is resulting in poor levels of care and much frustration for the public.

I dared to bring this up on the council webpage yesterday, wanting to get a feel for how big the problem was in the area, and was frankly a bit shocked at some of the responses. Some very angry people commented repeatedly in quite an abusive way, and much as I hate blocking people, after a certain amount of reasoning has failed, it just becomes abuse.

And here I get to my main point. I’m not even a politician, but already the grief has started. I watch the abuse some local councillors get online. I see the abuse politicians get on Twitter. Our party leader is subjected to more online vitriol than anyone I’ve ever known, even to the point of death threats.

This is from people who say they hate politics. They hate politicians. But if anyone good tries to get involved, they’re instantly subjected to a barrage of abuse by these people, based on assumptions and prejudices. It’s little wonder that people don’t want to get into politics. You have to have nerves of steel, the patience of a saint, and an iron will. You have to care about the people abusing you and rise above it. It’s not easy. This isn’t the first time I’ve had hassle online. And it’s nowhere near the worst. Pretty tame in comparison. The tragedy is, that the bloke actually had some good points, and had he had a bit more patience, and a bit less immediate hate, we could have probably come to some kind of truce and agreement, assuming that we were both after the same thing, ie, an improvement in local health services.

Someone tries to help; they get shot down. Is that an internet thing? I understand a lack of trust in politicians. But if you shoot everyone before they start, the only ones who will persist and put themselves through it are the narcissists, the hard men, the ones who don’t give a shit, who can brush off abuse like they brush off a pub fight. You’ll end up with a cabinet full of self-assured, bombastic, abusive, abrasive psychopaths.

Oh. Look. Neil Hamilton by the water cooler. Please don’t vote me in….

When Is A House Not A Home?

Finally, the powers that be are trying to instigate a double council tax on holiday homes. Many locals are jumping up and down in joy, but many are not. Why is that?

A lot of people have in in their heads that as tourism is our main industry, then the houses all being sold as second homes to people from outside the county is all fine and dandy. But is it really?

There’s an ex-council house up for sale in St Florence for nearly 200k. Yep, you heard right. It’s on an estate where there are so many generations being forced to move into houses together due to rising local house prices, that there is nowhere at all to park, so anyone new will be fighting a losing battle before they start, and then they’ll probably complain to the council that there’s nowhere to park. I remember that same estate when I was a kid, playing down there with friends. There were just a normal number of cars. Now, it’s completely ridiculous.

These holiday homes, second homes, whatever you want to call them, quite often get let out as Air B&Bs while the owners aren’t around. I’ve spoken to a few owners of guest houses around the place, and they’re all saying that their businesses are being affected by the enormous amounts of Air B&B in the county. So this hike in council tax that the second home owners are gonna get, they could quite easily pay with just one weeks income, offset against tax, and et voila, they hardly notice the new council tax rules and nothing changes.

Meanwhile, villages are shrinking because no-one lives in them, businesses and local shops and post offices suffer because no one uses them, and then they close. Wintertime, everything around here looks like the Marie Celeste. Summertime, you can’t move around the county because the London traffic has made its way from Piccadilly Circus to here.

There are literally thousands upon thousands of holiday parks, caravan sites etc in this county. If people want to buy a holiday home, then fine, they can buy one of them. They’re supposed to be holiday homes. That’s what they’re there for. People can still play their status games – some caravans are getting on a for a quarter of a million quid. Some people just love to tell you all about their houses and homes and what they’re worth. There. Show off your caravan with its deck and sea view. What’s the point of emptying the caravan sites and guest houses of holiday makers and cramping them all up into delightful little rural cottages?

I’ve said it before but it needs saying again. You try renting a small affordable property around here to live in.  Go on. I dare you. But you’ll find a little cottage for your week’s holiday quick as a flash, because all the nice little places are now in the clutches of the moneyed classes. If you’re homeless in Pembs, there’s literally nowhere to put you. All the council houses are being sold up, or have already been. There is no housing available any more for local people. Local covenants aren’t strict enough, even if they are in place. Pretty soon our prices will be like the prices in Cornwall. And we wonder why our young people abandon the county, land of very little opportunity and super high property inflation.

If someone has a holiday home in west Wales, a bricks and mortar (or more often stone) place, we should at least make it so they can’t rent it out. Because that’s not bringing money to the area. It’s bringing money to someone who lives elsewhere, and taking from the legit holiday establishments which we already have. It doesn’t even need staff, so results in no employment, apart from a cleaner for two hours on a saturday. It’s way too easy for the owners of these properties to just cover the extra council tax that they’re going to have to pay. A few hundred quid isn’t much in the scheme of things to these people.

This council tax hike is definitely a step in the right direction, and it shows that finally, people up top are beginning to see the effect these properties have on our local economy, and the damage they do to communities and the locality. The four million it will raise in extra revenue will be much welcomed. But we have to also support local tourism businesses, and not let their trade get taken by opportunists. Enough of our housing stock is now going to the new breed of work from homers.

The new housing project in Solva looks promising, and is to provide affordable homes. Let’s hope they’re actually affordable to people on Pembrokeshire wages. Real Pembrokeshire wages, the jobs you see advertised for 15k a year full time. Make houses affordable for those people, otherwise affordable is a complete misnomer on every conceivable level. Don’t change the rules in a few years’ time. Make sure they aren’t lost to people who will use them as spare houses, when they already have one.

Close this gap, before we all fall down intro the chasm. And congratulate the councillors who are pushing this. For all the people who say councillors aren’t worth their money – and in some individual cases I’d agree – I’d also argue that some of them clearly are.

In Estate

I was talking to my new neighbour the other day, and she was telling me about all the vandalism in Pembroke, and all the dodgy happenings that go on. Apparently, my new place got broken into loads of times because there were some dodgy geezers living here. It was all pretty hectic it seems. Which is strange, because since being here I’ve felt really safe. It’s weird what can make you feel secure. The endless whirr of the fridge, the mumbling central heating, the passing cars, the voices outside; it’s a massive contrast to my old field – the silence that was so deafening you heard music, and the lonely owl hooting, and the call of the river birds in the distance.

So what about this vandalism then? I’m pretty sure it didn’t used to be like that. Any graffiti that appeared was usually done by one of us as far as I remember. I’d love to climb up onto the railway bridge at East End and rewrite “It’s Black Friday” as the late Joe Rawlins did all those years ago, a slogan which became almost as much a part of Pembroke as the castle, until the pesky council washed it off.

There is much that has changed. The Lion now sells cakes. Cromwell’s is a pizza place. The Castle Inn is a winebar. Middlegate restaurant is still there, though much changed, and so is Brown’s. The Cross Saws remains, The Kings, The George; there is much that is familiar. But the town is definitely looking like it needs a bit of sprucing up. There are loads of commercial properties for sale in Main Street. The shops are all closed, some of them, it looks like, for good. The only people still trading are the estate agents – property is flying off the shelves quicker that they can send out the details to applicants. The only properties that aren’t rising in price are the buy to lets, because the landlords are all trying to jump ship, and new ones don’t wish to play. They’re probably all off buying gold or bitcoin or something. The buy to let properties are still out of the reach of most locals though. As are the family homes, ex council houses now going for around 180k in some instances.

Can we perhaps notice a correlation between the rise in vandalism and the fall in living standards? It was the late eighties/early nineties when I was last kicking around here. I moved from the dock back to Jameston is 1992. There were some undesirables, but I knew them all. Is that all that’s changed? As they’re all young now, I just don’t hang out with them? The undesirables I knew in my yoof all suffered from the same problems as youngsters do now. Poverty, mental illness (less admittable to back then) a general feeling of malaise, of no future. That feeling is still here, 30 years later. But guess what? That feeling is everywhere. It’s no different anywhere you go, if you’re working class. There is always a subsection of society, struggling, hidden away, identifiable only by their 2am street brawls and their propensity to smash stuff and then disappear like shadows over the town wall. The people are the same, trying to pay rent, eke out an existence in a place where there are few opportunities, where the gap between the have and have nots is so wide. When I point out to people that West Wales in the poorest part of Northern Europe, they look at me in disbelief. Really? With Tenby and all the landowners and all the nice houses and Valero? But look at the prices. A waterside property in Pembs can be picked up for a song, in comparison to a waterside place in Engerland. And those prices can only go one way because of this. Up. Will this influx of money to the county do anything to improve the lot of the locals? Perhaps, if there were any local shops left for the new people to shop in, but there aren’t really, so they’ll probably just go online and use up all the Tesco delivery slots.

The county is collapsing in front of us, and regeneration schemes taking place seem to be generally scorned by the public on social media. There is a brilliant new course at the college that is teaching youngsters the techniques of medieval wall building in order to facilitate the town wall project. Little opportunities do come up, the trick is getting the youngsters enthused enough to take part. The apathy, the despair, the lost look of most of the young people I know, including my own two sons, is a hard nut to crack. Covid is contributing to something that was happening anyway, and is now accelerating quickly. The small business owner is always going to be playing a massive game of cat and mouse, taking enormous risk. It’s pretty easy to turn them against people who have lost their way, and their enthusiasm, and need help. It’s also pretty easy to turn locals against immigrants, because you just have to tell them that the immigrants are getting the stuff that they should be getting. Thing is, they’re not getting it. There’s still no provision for homeless people in the county. There’s still people renting properties with leaking roofs and leaking windows and with damp problems. Imperialism and late-stage capitalism, over the last thirty years, has half emptied Pembroke of everything that was here. Pretty much every business has changed hands many, many times in that period. Pembroke Dock is a literal ghost town. There’s nothing there I recognise from living there except for Josephine’s. I remember that so well cos it was my eldest son’s grandma’s shop, back then, and we used to live in one of the flats upstairs. The streets are desolate and dark and the people wander around as if in a daze, not knowing what to do with themselves. Small local projects can only go so far. We need broad scope. Big change, huge overhaul. A complete change of economic system. Otherwise, in another thirty years, we might just be a castle, on a dirt road, surrounded by estate agents.

I know Why the Bird Cage Swings

I know why January lasts so long.

Psychologically, everyone breathes a sigh of relief on Boxing Day, and then proceeds to spend the next few days in a state of confusion and limbo, where no-one really knows what day it is, and everything is all topsy turvy. You’re bored of the decorations, and maybe you rip them down, throwing the dusty lights into boxes which by next year you’ll regret, because you’ll have to untangle it all.

We then sit and wait, while the longest week in the universe gives way to New Year, which is followed by another ghostly day or two, and then the clockwork towns start to whirr again, and everything is supposed to go back to normal.

By this time, most people have forgotten what normal is, because Christmas has been going on since about September. The days are still dark but the pretty twinklies have all come down. By the time the snow comes, the lights are out. January is essentially, five weeks long, because that post-Christmas feeling begins way before January does.

And we’ve still got February to go.

Plus, we’re still in lockdown. Everyone is skint. Some friends of mine had bailiffs at the door the other day in the middle of a pandemic demanding cash. This was due to an unpaid council tax bill. The guy lost his job due to Covid and had to move in with elderly relatives. The council wouldn’t let him set up a payment plan. So, bailiffs knocked on the door and hassled people in their 70s and 80s at 8.30 am. This was a bit much for my friend. The next door he attempted on his own life and was sent to A&E. He waited for hours. He was then given a Zopoclone and told to go home. He has an appointment with a mental health team in two weeks-time. Meanwhile, they’ve given him some anti-histamines.

He can’t find another job. He’s not in a great place. And there’s no one to help. Good work, Pembs County Council. You couldn’t just set up a payment plan? This is their whole attitude. I have friends who are still waiting for their OPD planning application to be looked at after nearly two years. I have another friend who got planning last March and the council still haven’t signed it off so that he can start work. However, the other day, when some tree surgeon buddies were doing a job, a guy came out an told them he was calling the council. The enforcement officer was on the phone within ten minutes, accusing the workers of cutting down a tree that they shouldn’t have, threatening that if the tree had been cut, the planning permission would be taken away.

When I emailed the enforcement officer last week to tell them I had sold my plot which failed at OPD, the response was instant, enquiring as to whether everything from the site had gone. The new owners are going to dismantle everything to save me the stress, knowing that I have suffered enough at the whims of PCC, but the enforcement officer couldn’t resist that last little bit of demanding attitude. It’s not enough for them that they took away my home and business. No, they want to me to take everything apart, piece by piece, alone, in order that I may pay maximum penance. I was diagnosed last week with Fibromyalgia. Doctor reckons the stress of the last few years is what’s done it. I believe her. Many times over the last few years I’ve been close to the bone like my buddy, who is now waiting for the council run crisis team to get round to helping him. From what I’ve seen of their service, the help doesn’t really extend to much. You end up having to save yourself.

And how do you do that exactly?

Well, no matter how many self-help books you read and how many times you go to CBT to get rid of negative thoughts, there’s no arguing with the fact that the reason we’re all so messed up is because humans were never designed to live in this high impact stressful world full of rules, where modern slavery takes the form of underpaid work, where there is no leisure time, or funds for leisure, where everyone is struggling constantly just to get by.

Mental health provision is simply paying lip service and ticking a box. There is no help in this society, How can there be? Are they going to conjure my friend up a job that he can enjoy and that will pay him well enough to cover his bills and enable him to afford a reasonably priced property to live in? Unlikely.

If you get through this world with all its injustices, without developing some stress related disease or another, then you are truly blessed and have walked the tightrope. For the majority of us, there is nothing to do but wait for the inevitable. To be ill and have an NHS that no longer works because of privatisation. To be dictated to by a council who are only interested in you if you’re working class and have done something wrong, to be skint and be unable to find meaningful work that pays properly.

If you need something from PCC anytime soon, forget it. They’re all super busy and working from home. However, if you flout a rule, or even if you don’t and someone just thinks you have, they’ll be round like a shot. If you’ve been emailing them to no avail, and phoning and being left on hold for hours, just to be told the person you need will call you back, and then they never do, best thing is just to tell them you’ve built a shed or cut down a tree. Result. Callback in ten minutes. Absolutely foolproof. Don’t thank me. Public service is my job.

Schadenfreude

Since moving to Pembroke I’ve been chatting online with a lovely new friend called Rita who lives up the road. As I’ve been sorting out my place, I’ve been looking for inspiration, and Rita sent me some beautiful pics of her place, which of now makes me want red walls like she’s got. We share tastes. She has fairy lights everywhere, lovely dark wood furniture. The place is certainly a credit to her and her husband. My walls, being an ex-rental property, are all bright white, which is great for showing up spiders, but it’s a little bit stark.

I swear I will never take for granted the fact that I can turn a hot tap on, and that I can press a button and heating happens. After five and a half years of living off-grid, and pretty roughly, it’s luxurious indeed to be warm, and to be moving my books in, and arranging things how I want them, and feeling like I have a comfortable safe home.

Contrast this with the predicament suffered by those boys staying at Penally camp.

Yet again, social media is full of “send the buggers back” type comments, as well as much worse. These comments are written by people that, by sheer luck, were born in a country where things are pretty shit, but we’re not being war torn and oppressed by Imperialist countries who want our resources but who are actually pretending that what they want is democracy in whatever country they’re liberating this week.

The scenes at the Capitol last week were extremely interesting. One, because the public stormed the Capitol. Two, because many people believed it was a set up by actors and they had been let in. Three, if it wasn’t a set up it shows a distinct lack of organisation on America’s part, and shows that the democracy that they’re trying to instil all over the valuable resourced world is not actually present in their own country. The American elections never pass by without allegations of fraud and cheating. Just this time it’s got more serious, because The Donald is a brat, and is throwing his toys out of the pram. But America created this monster all by themselves, and their halo is slipping for us all to see. Well, for nearly all of us to see.

The opportunist Simon Hart has condemned the Penally Camp boys protesting their living conditions. Basically, he had a quick shufti on Facebook to see which was the wind was blowing, and then he decided what to think and say.

Paul Dowson has also decided to use this local fear as part of his next campaign, joining UKIP and therefore becoming a UKIP councillor. He can see the voices clamouring, and he is pushing the tide as far as he can, making full use of the natural propensity of the tide to come in.

The statements on Facebook concerning these protests, have even surpassed the ones that have come before. I see many well-meaning people trying to fight them, trying to reason with them. But there’s no point. The more logic you give people, the less truth they want to hear. The people round here don’t want the truth, and they don’t want unity. They like the division, they enjoy the Facebook arguments. A population brough up on Eastenders has been trained to think that division and conflict is key to life. It’s not. As a theatre graduate, I can tell you that conflict is just the key to drama and a successful long running soap. It’s time people learned to see the difference.

This is real life. These are real lives. These are real people. They have been forced to leave countries where the everyday is like nothing anyone round here can ever imagine. They state that the barracks are good enough for the army. What, the army that went over and shot the families of these boys that live there now? Those trained killers, you mean?

What makes someone join the army? Who likes going and shooting people? How many of them enjoyed watching the footage that Julian Assange brought to the public view, of American soldiers shooting men in the street for no reason? That footage carries a warning on YouTube. Assange is rotting in jail because he allowed us to see it, but so many people refuse to see it, to watch it, to even care that it’s out there.

How many people have argued a point with you and then when you’ve talked them round in circles they say things like, well, I don’t follow politics.. They’re all useless?

Everything is politics. The local council decisions for our everyday lives are politics. Bin day is politics. Planning permission is politics. Bailiffs are politics. Unemployment is politics. Invading Iraq is politics. If you’re going to scream that we should send the buggers back, then you really should know what we’re sending them back to, and why that situation exists.

These guys aren’t spending their lockdown having a look at furniture on ebay, or choosing paint, or getting a new mop for the nice new floor. They’re not making choices about décor, or getting annoyed with ‘er indoors ‘cos she wants shelves putting up. They’re not calling the drain guy or getting a new washing machine.

Their lives consist of cold, no proper home, the charity of others, the generosity of the country that insists on continuing to join in with Imperialist domination of their country, and this bunch of entitled locals, who think that because they were born in a relatively safe country, that that somehow gives them the right to talk in the way they do about human beings, who are at the mercy of every corrupt government available.

I have news for you lot. You will all see similar hardships in time to come. Not like they have, because you’re sheltered, in Wales. But when your pension has disappeared, and you assets are worth nothing, and your inheritance disappears up the tax man’s arse, and when you lose your job and can’t get another one, or when your high wage earnings come to an end because of global laws of economy and you have to downsize from your executive home, then remember, your birthright is a corrupt, inept country, that can’t even handle a pandemic properly, that has no trust from its citizens, that encourages dissent, and causes its own crime epidemic by creating poverty and inequality. Your birthright is overpriced homes, and influx of Saesneg, and the loss of all you worked for due to one bad decision, piece of luck, or whim of a bank manager.

You’re not special because you’re British. You’re part of the biggest, most corrupt, Imperialist, thieving, slave trading bunch of clowns in the world. Don’t be feeling so proud. Don’t be feeling so smug, or comfortable. Your fall is coming. Who will care about you? Who will help you? Where will you seek asylum?

Head Funds

I think I’m going to wait until all the episodes of Pembrokeshire Murders have been on the tele before I watch it. I can’t cope with cliffhangers, so I like to binge watch things. Although of course, it’s not like it’s a surprise. I remember the stories well, and remember when they happened.

The programme has certainly caused a stir locally if social media is anything to go by. We usually get to see our county on the tele presented as the wild west landscape of wonderment, or holiday destination extraordinaire, or on Escape to the Freaking Country for the fiftieth time running. I’m looking forward to seeing the parts of Pembs on the tele that are usually hidden. I hear there’s a housing estate in it. That’s gonna be a shock for all the people looking to buy property in the area. They have estates?

The human psyche has long been fascinated by the concepts surrounding all things murder. Is this a residual process whereby they deprived us of the spectacle of public hangings and executions and now we have to get our fix from Midsummer Murders or The Ted Bundy Tapes? Mindhunter on Netflix has resulted in a whole new bunch of fans for Edmund Kemper, the Co-Ed Killer, currently languishing in jail in Sacramento. I say languishing. He actually spends his time reading audio books for the blind. I wonder if they’re aware that the charming voice lulling them to sleep with the latest Agatha Christie is actually the same guy who cut his mother’s head off and threw darts at it, and that’s nowhere near the worst thing he did. Look it up if you don’t know. You’ll be appalled. But this 6’9” terror of a figure, who killed his grandparents when he was 15 and managed to talk his way out of the asylum due to an IQ of 146, outfoxing every psychiatrist they sent to him, comes across as a gentle giant. So gentle in fact, that when he turned himself in, the police who knew him from the local bar refused to believe he was the killer. He had to persuade them and insist that they come and arrest him. They reluctantly picked him up, but still didn’t believe him, leaving him uncuffed in the car.

Is this where the fascination lies? Is this why we can’t get enough of these stories? Is it because the guy next door, walking past you and bidding you good evening, may well have a decapitated head in his bowling bag and you would have no idea?

One of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims escaped Dahmer, and ran into the road, screaming. He came upon some police, who he begged to help him, but Dahmer turned up, told the cops they’d had a lover’s tiff, and that his boyfriend was just drunk and hysterical, and they gave the victim back to Dahmer, only for him to murder the 14-year-old boy later on. Like, seriously?

Ted Bundy was able to pick up victims by putting his arm in a fake plastercast and asking girls to help him carry his study books to his car. His behaviour was so believable it’s a ruse that worked countless times. Is this why we have such a compulsion to hear every detail of a crime? Are we assessing the possibility of the level of danger around us? Are some of us worried that we may become the danger?

I won’t lie. There have been many times that I have got interested in the fact that a body will burn in three hours if you use dry pine. If you sweep up the teeth and bury them in four different places, then you’ll get away with it. Well. You might not. But they won’t have a body. There is a lot to be learned from these thorough and detailed documentaries. I must also confess, that whenever I watch stuff about the Unabomber, a lot of what he says makes perfect sense. It would have been nice if he could have got his ideas across without the nailbombs. But a mind like that in a society like this is asking for trouble. And that’s the trouble. There are an awful lot of minds like that in this society. But they’re not always making nailbombs.

Most of the hardcore psychopaths, the most controlled ones, the ones with the largest Machiavellian streaks – are the ones running the hedgefunds, and the ones running the country. They’re the ones allowing the insane developments in London along the Thames, where a 1-bedroom flat is a million quid, and they’re purchased as property banks by oligarchs and investors. The last three mayors of London, including our own dear Red Ken, and your own dear Boris, and the other ones’ dear Sadiq Khan. None of them have said, hang on… that’s public land. Why is it being developed by investors into luxury apartments? They just say, oh my, thanks for the donation old chap, and everyone goes home for tea.

So of course, they make wonderful programmes for TV, to get us addicted and setting ourselves up for a nice binge watch with some biscuits, to gawp at the psychopaths, and say, oh my, what a crazy guy. I’m glad he’s locked up, out of harms way. Instead of looking around at all the psychopaths and saying, wait a minute… How come this lot are running the show?

Happy New Fear

It’s the new year! Are you hopeful that it will be better than the last? It begins with Assange not being extradited, which has to be a good thing, but also with him being refused bail, which is not. Never was there a more fitting metaphor for the state of our country right now. Talk about PushMePullYou. This coincides with more doom mongering over Covid. A new year, a new strain, a new worry. Fabulous.

In more down to earth news, I’ve seen on social media that there are a few people who have moved to the area who are now looking for an NHS dentist in Pembs. I hate to break it to you, but this is one of the things you should research about an area before you get here. The truth is, there are hardly any NHS dentists locally, and you’ll never get on their list because the dentist list is even longer than the housing list.

Next you’ll be wondering why there aren’t enough ventilators in the half a hospital we have in Withybush. You’ll get ill, and you won’t be able to get a doctor’s appointment. You’ll be lucky to get a doctor. Some practices are totally full, and taking no new patients. If I had a pound for every time I saw someone getting upset because they couldn’t see a doctor, then I wouldn’t have to be writing this. If I had another pound for all the operations that get cancelled, then I’d be living in Mustique and enjoying myself. I have an elderly friend who has had his hip operation cancelled three times in the last four years. He’s still waiting. I think they’re hoping he bails out before they have to get round to him. If it wasn’t getting done before Covid, then it’s certainly not getting done anytime soon.

I had some weird lurgy over Christmas, but when I did a Covid test, it came back negative. The same with some friends of mine. So, this lurgy we were all getting. If it’s not Covid, what is it? We were pretty rough with it. I’m still a bit weak now, and it kicked off on Boxing Day. That test. Does it test for the new strain? Is there a new strain? How do we know that the thing we have isn’t the new strain, if the symptoms are the same? What’s to differentiate one lurgy from another? Remember last Christmas when everyone had that weird flu? Everyone I know had it, pretty much, and some people were extremely rough. It was weird, it was new, it was harsh, but they say it wasn’t Covid.

My dad’s bowling chum died this week from Covid, 77 years old, no underlying health issues. My dad, living in Frome, in tier four, aged 82, hasn’t had it, but his friend from Bath, tier two, died. There is no logic anywhere.

The point is, really, that your chances are only as good as the care you receive and a bit of luck. If you’re new to Pembrokeshire, you’re going to be shocked the first time you hit Withybush. A&E takes around seven hours before you are seen. This was pre-Covid. Christ knows what it’s like now. I broke my back a few years ago, and was on a trolley for 13 hours before being seen, and before being given pain relief. A friend of mine had a heart attack, but had to lay his symptoms on real thick before he got taken to Morriston. He had mild pains, but his friend, a guy who knew about these things, made him tell the nurses his symptoms were worse than they were, otherwise they’d have sent him home with painkillers. Turns out he’d been having a pretty rough heart attack for hours and ended up with a stent. His understated personality would have been the death of him.

A little look at the housing market locally shows us that Pembrokeshire is the new Cornwall. Thanks to countless TV shows that emphasise just how much you can buy in Pembs for city terrace money. Covid is making this process happen even faster. Some properties are being purchased without even being viewed, by desperate city people trying to escape the virus, safe in the knowledge that their job can be done from home, and they no longer have to hang out on the M4 corridor.

Ironically, the eco-OPD trend is resulting in land prices hitting the roof, as speculators and dreamers make their way West for the good life. As they’re coming with money, they’re usually successful in their plan, much to the chagrin of Plaid Cymru, who are insisting on a moratorium on the matter. I can’t help finding myself agreeing with them.

So. In answer to your question. No. There aren’t any NHS dentists. You won’t get one. And getting a doctor will be hard. If you get Covid your chances are slim, and if you have chest pains, you’re better off saying they’re worse than they are. Make sure you don’t need a hip operation anytime soon. You won’t get one. But it’s ok, because the beaches are lovely.

The great trick they’ve played, is to persuade us that this is all due to Covid. It’s not. But they’re doing a great job of hiding the country’s ineptitude behind the virus, which they probably nickname, Operation Scapegoat. Chances are, even if you were somewhere with a still part functioning NHS, you’d still be screwed, because that’s how privatisation of the NHS works. They’ve been doing it right under our noses. It’s good to see that you’re all beginning to notice.

So, enjoy the landscapes, the views, and your large country property, but unless you’re super loaded, then you can wave goodbye to your teeth.

Terra Firma

I’m not Preseli voice anymore folks. I’m Pembroke voice. I have moved. Elvis has left the building.

This time last year, which seems such a short yet also such a long time ago, I was writing a Christmas column about being homeless. Now, with a new place in town, I can go into this Christmas a little more optimistically. Let’s not forget though, that there are plenty of homeless people that don’t have a column in the local paper, and so you never get to hear about them. They are there, though. And it wouldn’t hurt us to have a think about why they’re there, in the sixth richest country in the world.

Anyhoo. I digress.

A lot has happened in Pembroke since I last lived round here. In many ways, much is the same. Golden Park Chinese takeaway is still there, praise be. But Cromwell’s is a pizza place. And Gateway is gone, although I see there is planning for three retail units. I hope one of them sells dustpans and brushes. When I was moving in last weekend, I took a wander looking for stuff that I needed. Pembroke. Full of art. Not one mop. In some ways that’s a good thing. But in others, it’s a bit sad that the big superstores in the Dock like Tescos and B&M have completely monopolised the domestic implement market. Luckily, going back and forward to the land I’ve just moved from, collecting stuff and cats, I was able to take full advantage of CKs in Narberth and avoid the traffic light palaver of the Dock for an extended time, although I know I can’t avoid it forever. It’s too convenient.

It’s weird being back. I feel like I’ve come home. I met my neighbour, and it turns out I already know him. Met some other neighbours, and they’re really nice. That in itself is a major culture shock.

Getting back on the grid was of course not without its teething problems. Ever moved into a place with token meters? Wot a laff. When the lights and the heating and the hot water came on, I could have cried. I don’t know how I managed to live so roughly for so long. I feel like I’ve come out of prison.

I used a tenner’s worth of gas in two days by jacking the heating right to the top and having constant baths, so now I have to slow that down a bit. But not yet. The luxury is too much to handle. The hot running water. The warmth. The big rooms. The multiple rooms! I’ve lived in such a tiny space for so long, that here I feel I need roller skates just to get from one end of the house to the other.

To be in a building again, to not even hear the rain, or notice the wind, to have an inside toilet and not to be constantly damp and cold, is weird, and wonderful. There is space for my sewing machine, and my lace making stuff, and I am writing this at an actual table and not on my lap on the rickety caravan bed. I’m not panicking about getting this written before the solar power runs out and all goes dark.

So. My off-grid adventure is finally over. Five and a half winters of varying degrees of hell. Since sleeping indoors, my face has gone puffy when I wake up. But the stress wrinkles are fading away already. Swings and roundabouts.

I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I tried. If I hadn’t I would never have known. The dream of getting land and living on it only works if you have plenty of resources. I realise now that it’s not the poor man’s way of getting a farm. It’s just another rich man’s way of doing it. They already have plenty of ways to do it. And now they have another with OPD.

They fool themselves that they’re saving the planet, but with such an impossible task to set it up, in that only 30-odd families have actually achieved it in ten years, tells me that there needs to be another way of doing it. A way that is accessible to all, not just to the moneyed classes. A social housing solution where everyone is off grid, and the infrastructure exists to support that. Basically, a complete overhaul; of society itself and of the housing situation in this country, in order to provide for our most vulnerable, and give them the bare necessity of somewhere to live, which I am lucky enough to now have.

To buy a place is, ironically, the only way to make it affordable. Rent for this property is twice the amount of the mortgage. That’s insane. And it’s unsustainable. And it’s why people try and live in fields. But a word to the wise. It’s not how they make it out to be. When hippies try to sell you a dream, remember, that’s all it is. A sell. It’s all about the money. The dream of a comfortable home should be achievable for all. Not allocated to the lucky few. In my new life as a house dwelling activist, I can fight for that. Fight to provide for all and not just myself. Remember. There are no individual solutions to social problems. But there is an individual need to be warm to fight. I’m warm now. And I’m ready for the new fight.

So Merry Christmas everyone. Wherever you are. Stay warm if you can, so that next year, we can buddy up, and help the ones who aren’t warm this Christmas. I was one of the cold ones last year. People have helped me. My life has been full of angels recently. We can all be an angel for someone else. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? 😊