The Last Waltz

It’s with no small sense of irony that I find myself sitting and writing what I wanted to say instead of having the opportunity to address the council and my objectors in person today.

It was to be argued this morning that I should not be permitted to live in an isolated way and be self sufficient, as the world collapses around us, the capitalist system is teetering on a precipice and and we’re facing an enormous crisis worldwide.

However, for me, nothing has really changed. If I didn’t have Twitter and Facebook, I’d be unaware completely of what’s happening. I shop locally and the village shops have their usual stocks of items. I have a garden full of food growing as we face mass shortages. I have a spring with water from the mountain that isn’t controlled by any company or infrastructure. I have solar panels so I will have power when the cuts begin. In short, I have everything I need to hunker down and exist and live and continue with my life.

The people who are telling me that I should not be doing this are now being forced to change their entire lifestyle. They don’t have access to food in their gardens, most of my objectors will be quarantined to England and unable to visit the area, that is, if they could get the fuel. This mad time in history only serves to demonstrate that projects such as OPD and similar, are the only real option of the future.

Society as it is cannot be sustained. The economy is collapsing, assets are collapsing, infrastructure and globalism is collapsing, all in front of our very eyes, in the very same week that I’m fighting for my life, literally, it would seem.

All I have is my land. I have the opportunity to create a home and a business, for myself and eventually my sons. I am no burden to anyone. I do not have to rely on an uncertain work or job future. I don’t have to rely on benefits or social housing. I’m not using taxpayer’s money to line the pockets of a landlord. The state does not have to care for me. If I am refused planning and enforced, I become homeless, I lose my employment, I lose future business, and the locality loses an opportunity to benefit from my project.

I want to grow the much needed trees we need to restock the gaps that will be left by ash die back, which incidentally, was brought in on cheap imported trees from abroad and distributed by organisations such as the Woodland Trust as part of their free tree scheme, where you receive a few months old barely rooted sapling about five inches high, wrapped in its own plastic and delivered in its own box over many miles to the customer.

There were five tree surgeons due to attend the meeting today, Dan Badham, Leon Cousins, Steve Everett, Will Badham and Alex Kesterson. All were to give evidence that in their opinions I should be positively encouraged and supported in my plans for a tree nursery.

There is no arguing that there is a climate crisis, whether man made or natural is irrelevant. We need to stop doing what we’re doing. The last few days fundamentally demonstrates this. The sky is clear of aeroplane contrails. The waters of Venice are running clear and fish and dolphins are visible. The world is recovering really quickly. If this lockdown became the new way to do things, the planet would improve, whether natural forces are at play or not.

By consuming less and providing for ourselves, we’re at least giving ourselves a chance. The world is changing exponentially. Something has to change. This new situation that we find ourselves in will dictate the pace. Pretty soon we’ll all HAVE to do OPD, or something very much like it. We’ll have no choice.

From a personal point of view, this whole process has felt like I’m begging for my human rights. Until the meeting was cancelled I felt like I was on Death Row.

We’re a local family. My sons were born in Withybush, as was my grandaughter. Something that we will not be able to say for much longer, due to its imminent downgrading of essential services; sadly, another sign of the times.

I have planted trees that will be mature when my grandaughter’s children are adults. They’ll be able to say, “my great-gran planted this woodland”. To have to end the project now, and dismantle everything I’ve built, would probably be the end for me. I don’t know what else I can do. I’m 47. My mental health isn’t brilliant. I no longer get every job I apply for like I did twenty years ago.

Back then, it was always assumed when I got older I’d buy a farm or smallholding. My son’s dad was a dairy farmer in Trelech. Their 200 acre farm had to be sold when his father and grandfather died, and all the relatives came out for their share. If OPD had existed then, the land could have been spilt and turned into separate holdings. Instead it was sold to a dog breeder.

Of course, the rise in house prices and the 2008 crash put paid to all of those ideas. But if I had been able to buy a farm, I’d still live according to OPD principles. The eco aspect of OPD should go without saying. All housing should have to have more ecologically sound rules imposed. What they call “traditional building” is going some way towards this but it’s not enough and it’s too slow.

Projects like OPD have the potential to solve the social housing crisis. Council purchased land, with modular homes, cheap to run and live in. The welfare bill is cut as there are no rents. There are no bills as the homes are off-grid. General well-being improves, then a side effect is less strain on the NHS. Happy people are less ill than distressed people, who currently often find themselves unable to secure themselves a home past their council flat tenancy, or uncertain, private short-let, unable to grow food because social housing is no longer like that of the fifties, where it was assumed people might like some outside space, where it was taken as said that people would grow their own provisions.

Now, with the popularity of the area as an ideal place for a second home, many locals have been completely priced out of the market. I have owned houses – I paid a mortgage alone for 16 years with two children. I missed a large part of their childhood because of this.

I have no inclination to exist in a consumerist world where one virus brings everything to a halt. Nature is showing us a very hard lesson right now. All I see on social media is people suddenly becoming interested in growing their own food. Change is coming. It took a virus, but something had to give eventually, and show the system for the unsustainable mess that it is. We all have to change every process in our lives. OPD is ready and waiting to be utilised to its maximum potential. It’s a no-brainer.

It’s been the worst experience of my life, far worse than divorce, a broken back, and losing my music shop! Waiting for planning, not knowing whether or not it was worth proceeding. It’s been a very weird kind of limbo, and I really hope to be able to move on and continue what I’ve begun. I hope to able to replace my son’s birthright in some small way. I know nothing of my own history, as I’m adopted. Thus I’ve always felt rather rootless. All I’m really after is some solid roots, and a bit of room to grow.

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FanDanGo…

Some good news for a change. Regular readers will remember Dan Badham, our local tree surgeon who applied for OPD 16 months ago. Today, after a committee meeting at County Hall he was unanimously granted permission to go ahead with his project. I watched the meeting online and was struck by a number of things.

A couple of the elected planning committee seemed to have no idea what OPD is or how it works. Am I mistaken in assuming they’re supposed to read the agenda prior to the meeting an to familiarise themselves with each case presented, so that they can come to an informed decision? You could tell who had done their homework because they didn’t have to ask any questions.

Some of the questions asked and points raised merely served to demonstrate just how unprepared some of these councillors actually were. One commented on the trees on the site, seemingly upset that they would not be managed properly, whereas if he had passed even a cursory eye over the application he would have known that Mr Badham is a tree surgeon of some local repute. Luckily, Cllr Jacob Williams in the chair had been paying attention, and was cynically able to put the councillor straight. But what if he hadn’t? At the very least, that could well have caused yet another delay in a day of hold ups and difficulties, all seemingly brought on by the fact that not all of the councillors were familiar with any of the cases. I only watched three, including Dan’s. That was enough. But I’ve watch many of these planning meetings, and it’s always the same.

Another couple of councillors seemed extremely upset that even though the usual OPD application is all tin and turf rooves, that this application actually looked like a house. I was lost at this point. Sorry, But did you mean you prefer the tin and turf? Would you have preferred a hobbit house application? He began the sentence like he was going to say one thing, and ended up saying completely the opposite.

If I was a planning officer, my first though would have been, why can’t the applicant just have normal planning permission, due to the fact that his site is clearly within the village boundary, as demonstrated on the ariel view photographs? There’s a whole village right next door, a farm to the North, and a girt caravan site over the road. Sorry, but why was this case complicated?

One thing I noticed during proceedings, was that the site visit was undertaken at the beginning of the process. A letter was sent to Dan asking for permission to access the site. The photos that appeared at the meeting however, were clearly taken a good few months after that. No permission was requested for this visit. But they’d obviously climbed the gate to take their photos…

The time taken was also justified by the fact that OPD applications by their very nature are complicated. However, the committee also hear a case about a housing estate in Stepaside, which presumably was sorted within the allocated eight weeks? Why is Dan’s very excellent management plan more complicated than a site where work has already started and flooded the adjacent area, with mains services involved, school crossing issues, flooding issues and all the other problems associated with such an application?

Is that really an eight week job, whereas a single dwelling is deemed complicated enough to take a year and a third? Interestingly, the planning officer had recommended that housing development for approval, notwithstanding naughty behaviour by the developer who seems to have cause all sorts of environmental and social problems. After that, a caravan with a hot tub, concreted down and made permanent, and applied for retrospectively for holiday use was also recommended for approval, whereas my OPD was refused. Interesting.

The One Planet Council run courses for council employees and many Local Authorities have taken advantage of this. But not Pe,brokeshire. Why not? Why use the excuse that OPD is complicated when you’ve got the chance to go and learn about it but you decline?

One councillor questioned whether the constant practice of going over time with decisions for OPD was showing PCC in a bad light, to which Mr Popperwell replied that extension requests are made and so they don’t get into trouble. That’s not actually true. Extension requests have consistently been requested late; way after the time they were supposed to be requested. In many cases, months after. Nearly every OPD in the system over the last year has had this problem. I had this problem and so did Dan. On my second application an extension request wasn’t made at all.

Next week, the 18th March at 10am in Maenclochog community hall, is my appeal. It’s looking to be quite fun. Lots of people are coming, and everyone is invited. At the moment I’m not freaking out too much. There’s no point worrying about not being successful, because then I’ll have suffered twice. I’m quite surprised how calm I am, although I’ll probably be unable to stand from about tea -time on Tuesday onwards.

If I win, it will be a triumph of common sense over adversity. If I lose, then, well…. we’ll see. I was only this morning told that I won’t get a decision straight away, and it could take up to six weeks. Sigh. Put the kettle on Baldrick….

The Truth, Crucified and Risen

I think I know why the church hid the information that the earth wasn’t the centre of the universe, and why they made Galileo shut his face up. Same reason they haven’t told us about aliens on earth yet and why they’re hiding the truth about Coronovirus. Thing is, as humans, as soon as we have access to all information look what happens.

You have the mainstream media fans versus the RT fans versus the flat earthers, versus the moon landing hoaxers, versus the left, versus the right, versus trans issues, versus class war. Versus versus versus. It goes on and on.

In a world where there is no control, the anarchic world of Twitter, where free speech mostly exists, it seems that humans cant be trusted to use these powers for good. We get the world in our hands and look at what we do with it. We trash it. We trash each other.

I’ve just read a long Twitter thread arguing about trans rights, antisemetism, capitalism, socialism, left and right all in one thread. Everyone is arguing for their label. They’re this or that, and everyone else is being an anti this or that, being an -obic, or displaying some kind of -ism or another. What the hell is going on here? The biggest opportunity for sharing of information and we use it to argue.

The Greeks built politics on good debate, even if they didn’t let women in. But once you give a billion people a voice, they have no choice but to shout louder and louder. And everything is written down, ready to bite you on the ass at a later date. One too many wines and Twitter has messed up many a reputation. Elon Musk and the Thai cave rescue springs to mind. What are we doing?

The thing is with human nature, is that it’s impossible to trust anything. One because of our own mistrust, and two, because in general, people suck, and they will make all sorts of promises and not follow through. Even those that you think you can trust will tell you one thing and do another.

The way that social media has made the world so raw and open to all, and that we can all see everything that’s going on, doesn’t seem to help. It seems to make everything worse. You used to be able to rely on the Police, on British Telecom, on the BBC. They were bastions of the state, their very presence made us feel safe. We know now that we can’t trust them. We know that we can’t trust anybody.

We’ve become a bitter race, stuck to our phones and computers, arguing the toss with people that we’ll never meet about a load of crap that doesn’t actually matter. And we all think that’s the be-all and end-all. Twitter has become real life. All things are drawn and quartered on a platform that decides by itself who sees what, and there we are, thinking we’re free.

This is not freedom. This is another kind of prison. Another kind of torture. The torture of knowing there is no-one to trust, that no-one keeps their word, that egos are more important than the promise.

You could be forgiven for thinking that it would be more comfortable to be told what to think, to have no knowledge other than that presented by the old liturgical dramas, to have trust in the word of the Church that the earth is all important in the universe, that we mean something, that there is meaning beyond us.

But now, all we have is the bare ugly truth, blinding us with its frustrating monotony of talk. Opinions reign supreme, and everyone knows everything in a world where no-one really knows anything, at least, not much of any real importance. But the importance they stitch onto what they know becomes an irritating game of I’m more of an influencer that you are. I know more than you do.

But for all the knowing, I don’t see a whole lot of actual actioning, not in the UK. We’re all looking at Twitter, sharing the images of the real revolutionaries in France.

We compete for dominance on social media, while the government dominates our every waking moment. Competitions of words on a screen, while everything burns around us. The media keeps its control, the alternative media frightens us to death. The more we know, the harder life gets, not easier. So we distract ourselves with Bake-Off.

It isn’t comforting to know that you’re constantly being swizzed by society. The secrets had their purpose. They haven’t told us about aliens yet for the same reason. It’ll be leaked out gradually as we all get used to the idea so the shock is less. Drip feeding the information to the nation, on a need to know basis. But with all these lies it’s hard to know if this vogue for truth is actually truth, or just more propaganda.

There is too much mess, too much white noise. It’s becoming impossible to see. Not only are we being asked to choose between the blue and the red pill, but now we’re aware that the pills don’t actually exist in reality, so taking them could mean either something, or nothing, or anything at all. It doesn’t rally matter.

We’re not sure about the meaning of anything anymore. There is no meaning. Tribes continue to form, because basically we’re just a bunch of tribal animals instinctively trying to get by, ruled by freaks who think that owning every penny in the world can actually be a good thing. They’re subsidised by the people that benefit from that arrangement, and so ultimately, the point of it all is gone.

Truth? There is no truth. Even the so called truth tellers will lie to you. This teenage game has taken over the psyche of everything and everyone. Twitter has exposed the human being for what he is. An empty, pathetic bunch of arguments, washed down with ego and insincerity. Not much of a surprise is it? Let’s be fair….

Storm in a Teacup

This week, some Conservative MPs were photographed making a cup of tea and brandishing a massive bag of Yorkshire teabags. Innocuous enough you may think. The Yorkshire Tea company said that they had nothing to do with the placement. And in the olden days, I guess that would have been that. But no. This has turned into a massive storm. A storm in a teacup, you might say. Countless hours have been spent online by people screaming to boycott Yorkshire Tea. This, in the week that Julian Assange goes on trial for telling the truth, and faces extradition to America, where he will no doubt just be left to rot, on top of the momentous psychological torture that he’s going through now and has been for years.

Last night there was a meeting in London with speakers bringing attention to this case. But a look at Twitter, and more people are upset about the Yorkshire Tea situation than they are about the very real possibility that we’re about to lose the right to free speech and a free press.

All Assange did was tell the truth. In the media it is generally assumed that if what you’re printing is the truth then it’s good to go. But if it’s a truth that they’re trying to keep hidden, then you’ll end up in Belmarsh and be handcuffed eleven times and strip searched twice on a day in court where you’re locked in a bullet proof box.

What’s the point n handcuffing someone locked in a box? He’s not an escape artist. He’s a journalist. The liberals are all over Twitter, literally losing their minds over the use of teabags. But it takes a group of grassroots campaigners, the Gilet Jaunes and the other prisoners at Bellmarsh to draw attention to Julian’s plight. At the meeting last night, led by the brilliant Peter Lovell, the leader and deputy leader of the Worker’s Party of Britain were there giving emotive and rousing speeches, but not one other member of any other party.

The place should have been packed with press, but it wasn’t. The mainstream media were nowhere to be seen. It is left to RT to broadcast this meeting, left to the organisers to publicise it.

Meanwhile, another storm is brewing over Mahari Black accompanying a drag act to read to primary school children. Firstly, what the hell? And secondly, an MP that initially seemed pretty legit has shown herself to be ruled by those old identity politics. Why the hell does someone’s sexual orientation have to be splashed about now? Why does it matter? Who cares?

It’s getting ridiculous, and it’s getting dangerous. And it’s deliberate. They’re pointing our heads in the direction they want us to go. Distractions, lies, confusion, political correctness, all designed to make you scared, scared of causing upset, scared of causing offence, and accepting the safe arguments over tea instead of the real arguments that we should all be paying attention to.

In this bullying culture, free speech can be misused. Katie Hopkins a case in point. And she abuses that privilege by just being mean for the sake of it. But she’s tabloid, and so that’s ok. That’s “acceptable”.

But Assange, telling us proper truths, revealing atrocities, exposing the world for what it is, and Chelsea Manning, locked up for refusing to give evidence against him, are punished royally. Yet the world churns out it’s insane arguments daily, the press send our attention to where they wish for it to be placed, and along we go.

All that energy bullying a teabag company who did no wrong, which could have been spent on paying attention to the actual crisis of the week, an actual human being who did no wrong. Because if Assange is extradited, there will be no freedom to scream at tea willy-nilly. You’ll lose the truth. It’ll be gone forever. Will you care? Will you fight? Or will you all just switch to coffee?

If we look at this on a local level, we see that the council are upping the council tax. We also see that local councils aren’t submitting their accounts. As regular readers know, my OPD planning appeal is coming up. Appeals cost the council a lot of money. Another OPD locally has been turned down in the last couple of weeks. They are also having to go to appeal.

Pembs County Council seems determined to stop OPD in its tracks. And as the story unfolds I’ll be telling you all about it here, in the interests of transparency, and in dedication to Julian Assange. There is plenty going on behind the scenes and as I become more aware of it I become more determined to ensure that you, the taxpayer, knows where your money is going.

A landowner who has just got planning for multiple properties on his land told me the other day that he was upset, and so were the rest of the community, about the small amount of social housing also being built in the proximity. We don’t know who we’re gonna get, seemed to be the attitude. You don’t know who you’re gonna get in the private houses either. You think anyone local will be able to afford those plots or houses once built? Shouldn’t have thought so. But they’ll all complain when the Saesneg move in.

The council have been invited on numerous occasions to undertake OPD training and enter into discussions with the One Planet Council. OPD is a policy which is here to stay, yet the council are spending massive amounts of resources on doing what they can to stop it; that is, going against policy. On whose authority? Huw George’s?

And as I’ve written previously, with the potential to be so useful in the tricky question of social housing, why aren’t the council looking at OPD more seriously? They declared a climate emergency, yet they don’t seem to be doing much to honour that.

There’s an awful lot of paperwork and mileage associated with these appeals and refusals of planning permission. If the planners got into a parlance with applicants then solutions could be found and compromises made that don’t cost taxpayers a fortune, but the planners prefer instead to spend their time conversing with objectors and neighbours, the kind of people that can afford the aforementioned private housing, and this information only becomes available once you’ve been through the rigmarole of putting in a freedom of information request, which they also fight tooth and nail to avoid giving you.

The word is that Boris wants to ban FOI requests. Better get them in quickly then. I have encouraged all of the people currently having agro with the council regarding their OPD planning to put in FOI requests to see what’s been really happening. Let’s get some truth on the go.

And free Julian Assange, so that we may continue to do so.

Another Brick in the Wall

Let’s be honest – school is shite.

Can anyone here say that they enjoyed the experience? I loved primary school, land of dressing up and paints and stories and fun assemblies and putting on little plays. But secondary. Jesus. What a nightmare. I remember standing in the biology room at the end of the day, waiting for the bell to go, chairs were up. I was in the second year (year 8 for you youngsters) and it suddenly occurred to me that I had a whole three and half years left of this crushing monotony.

Many years later I became a teacher in a secondary school. I didn’t last long. Backstage was even worse than I thought. Half the teachers got pissed at lunchtime and the other half spent their lives screaming at year 11 boys to take their coats off on entering the sacred walls.

My eldest son was, like me, completely destroyed by secondary school. My education didn’t start until I was 25 and I went back as a mature student. My eldest never bothered going back. He’s nearly 28, and still completely disillusioned by the whole thing.

I’d been thinking with my youngest, who is nearly ten years younger, that he might fare a bit better, being a bit calmer. But he just ended up lonely and unhappy. The last straw for me came when he was in year 8 and suffered a compound fracture while playing basketball in a games lesson. If that had been me or my other kid, we’d have howled and cried until we got attention. But the little ‘un isn’t that sort. So he just limped about, barley able to walk, and not one teacher noticed!

He came home with a foot like a balloon. The hospital said he should have kept weight off it immediately. The next day I phoned the school and told them he wasn’t coming in. The day after that they threatened to send the rat catcher round, saying a broken leg was no reason to not come to school.

Naturally, I had a right Benny at this, and informed them that I was taking him out of school and was going to home-school him. I’d googled it in anger, and saw how easy it was. So that’s what I did.

His dad went batty, So did my then husband. So did my eldest son (probably jealousy) and the rest of my family were less than impressed with my decision. I had to do a bit of justifying to the home visit lady who the council sent round, but not much. And so suddenly the boy was free.

I decided that as I used to be a teacher it would be pretty easy. But lessons weren’t really on his agenda. It was a bit like the home schooling Eric Cartman episode of South Park. He’s not a daft lad, and he seemed to spend a lot of time on cool websites, looking at cool sciency stuff, and lots of Top Gear. I left him to it, deciding that once he’d had a break he’d be more inspired.

But as I left him to it, I realised that he naturally gravitated towards educational stuff. At first it was all a big holiday with cartoons, but eventually, he was watching documentaries that interested him, things he’d found by himself. If he asked me a question and I didn’t know, we’d find some video or website and find things out. It all happened really naturally.

He went to college to do a couple of GCSEs, when he was 16, and is now 18 and studying engineering. He’s really balanced compared to me and the eldest. And I don’t think that’s just by virtue of the fact that he’s generally a bit mellower than us. I think we’re not as mellow because we were subjected to that process of conformity, where it doesn’t matter if you do your work. If you try to be a bit of an individual and express yourself in any way you got suspended. If you played up, no one asked if everything was ok, they just gave you detention.

When I was teaching, I formulated positive reinforcement techniques for dealing with unruly year 8 and 9s, but got hauled over the coals by the headmaster because you weren’t allowed to do that. It wasn’t school policy. You had to give detentions, referrals, removes. Negative, negative, punish, obey.

Free education in this country only became a thing because the powers that be wanted and needed an educated workforce. They realised that this was a bit too risky perhaps, and it seems that an ever present dumbing down on educational provision, apart from for those who will fill the top political or city jobs, has become the mode of operation. They don’t want us thinking.

But we have YouTube, and alternative news sources now. We can learn whatever we like at the touch of a button, from a thing in our pocket. The education system has been long outmoded, but no one wants to make an effort to change that and improve it. Why would they? They’d much prefer an illiterate and brainwashed mass to argue with each other on the internet about what their favourite paper told them they should think this week.

Primary school seems to me important, because that’s where you make friends, do fun stuff, experience things that are new, work in groups; but after that, secondary school just became a whirl of learning how to deal with bullies and feelings of loneliness and not fitting in, then being beaten by teachers into a conformist attitude.

Any bright spark with new ideas is quelled and subjugated, until they either rebel and get a reputation for being naughty, and can therefore be written off that way, or they fall silent, at which point, they’re easy to simply ignore.

What is churned out the other end is a group of disenfranchised, confused teenagers, who were forced into making decisions at the end of year nine that they will carry with them forever. And not one of them knows how to do their tax, register as self employed, change a tyre, cook a Sunday dinner, milk a cow, grow some veg, fix a lawnmower; not one useful thing is taught, unless you’re going to be an academic or work in IT.

We have a computer workforce, made up of the geeks who can’t believe their luck to finally be the rich, cool guys, and everyone else is wandering around lost with no industry to enter. We need trade schools back. We need un-schooling, and home schooling, rolled into one. I see a utopian situation where kids get to gather in their groups and learn social ways, but where they encourage and inspire each other, with teachers as guides, not as coat thieves and banshees. NO homework unless you want to. Which most kids, left to their own devices, do want to.. they just want to look at the stuff they’re interested in. What’s the point of getting a kid who is enamoured of space rockets to stop looking at them and come look at this Jane Austen novel instead. What’s the point of taking a kid from their books and forcing them into a game of hockey?

Let them find their own way and they will. Kids get bored eventually, and seek input. They all like their computers so much, let them. They’ll educate themselves, and they’ll do it a lot better that the current secondary system does. One of my students once told me all about Plato’s republic. “How do you know about that?” I asked, surprised as hell. “From a game.” He said. Genius. Best way to learn anything! My youngest son became an expert in classical weaponry from playing games, and my eldest son, who didn’t like books a whole lot, didn’t care about learning to read until he realised you had to be able to read to play Pokemon. After that, he was reading fluently in about a week.

And ok – we’re lucky to have free education when many countries have little or none. But our gratitude traps us into accepting a conformist model, based on the “best”parts of history and a preference for those who look like they may make the grade as city slickers – though “making it” from a Comprehensive school system is a pretty rare thing.

In fact, the ones that seem to do the best are the ones we used to shockingly call the “remo” class. These guys, not academically gifted it was assumed, and probably in hindsight, dyslexic, or having some other special educational needs, got to do super cool stuff like building and horticulture. And those boys – for ’twas mostly boys – from those so called “lower” stream classes are the boys that you see around the place with their names on their vans, having built some good and essential local business. The so called brainy kids all seem to have mental health issues now, probably from being forced into experiencing the world in a way they didn’t understand and having their brains fried by cramming them full of of things they instinctively knew were wrong or irrelevant; wasted talents, not picked up and nurtured, just churned around in the same old washing machine system, ensuring that the bright working classes stay average.

But we have out own schools now. Online. It seems much more useful to educate ourselves in a way that suits us. Teachers should be guides, not form you into a mould of thought. If you get the chance to go to university, you’ll find that they encourage lots of research and study of what has been, and then you are encouraged to make your own assumptions, and have thoughts of your own. Up to and including A level, that doesn’t happen. And having taught at both university and secondary school level, I can confirm that the uni kids, the ones who got to choose their subjects, are a lot more into their thing than the kids in the school being told what to learn. I remember one of my year 11 pupils refusing to turn up for a practical drama exam. “It doesn’t matter miss,” he said. “I’m gonna be a dentist.”

Good lad.

The Gloves Are Off…

I got all the info from Freedom of Information the other day regarding the third party comments for my planning permission. This means I have to go reading this stuff again and it gets kind of upsetting.

It’s all very similar to the objections on my appeal that are all out there for all to see in the public domain on the planning inspectorate website, so not much new shock to be had there. But one thing that is new is that I see my planning officer was getting very chummy with my neighbours, which is incredible, because for the entire process I couldn’t get her to once reply to me.

When the neighbours cut my water pipes, and I had to get my solicitor to get me access to fix it, the neighbour who called me mental also said to me that I would never get planning permission. Now I know why she sounded so sure. They had clearly already decided, somewhere along the line, in a process that may or may not have included certain sweeteners, that I was going to be refused.

In fact, my neighbours were even told I was to be enforced before I was told. My planning officer encouraged the neighbours to keep taking their pictures and sending them in.

The holiday home neighbour, who I won’t name, we’ll call her Katie Hopkins, because that’s who she looks like, has taken so many photos of my plot that she could open a gallery. The other neighbour, we’ll call her Anne Widdecome, seems to have mastered the art of dealing with the council. She’s the one who called me mental and told me I wouldn’t get planning.

Funnily enough though, she build a block of four stables with a concrete base with no planning permission and no consultation with NRW on agricultural land. When she was eventually forced to apply for planning, she got it, retrospectively in seven short weeks. Really?

Any horse owner in Pembs will rejoice at this, and I suggest you all go out and build those stables and field shelters that you’ve been thinking you’re not allowed to have. You can have whatever you like. You just have to put down a concrete base, put in electricity and water and a pretentious clock, and Hey Presto, retrospective planning granted. Any issues, and I’ll give you the address so you can state the precedent. Seems incredible that all these Pembrokeshire people have been making do with shelters on skids and hedgerows for all this time and all it took was a divorcee from Cardiff to come down and open the door.

PCC refused another OPD planning last week – one just up the road from here. They’re going to appeal. So that’s another appeal to pay for taxpayers. That’s two just on this road. Around 40k is a good estimate of price for the two of us. And there are still two OPDs pending locally, which are dragging on.

The council say they’re short on staff and resources, but what seems to be happening is that instead of doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re working hard behind the scenes to ensure that OPD never goes any further. They’re in cahoots with neighbours, encouraging bullying and stalking behaviour.

My planning officer wrote emails to my neighbours thanking them profusely for photos, because it meant she didn’t have to bother doing her job and coming on site visits or talking to me or emailing me or replying to me. She got my neighbours to do all her dirty work and then refused me, safe in the knowledge that though I’m homeless, she’s got a nice big farm to inherit, and she will never know what it’s like to have to get anywhere in the world herself, because she’s old money and will always have all the land and farm she wants given to her on a plate.

Why are people like this in these jobs? Why is someone with no understanding of what it means to have to make your own way, employed in a job that needs a bit of human understanding and compassion? I told my planning officer about how anxious everything was making me, so what does she do? She creeps around behind my back making me feel like I’m being constantly watched. I WAS being constantly watched, at her request.

How is this allowed? Why is my enforcement information being given to other people first? Why is she replying to their emails and chatting at length to them on the phone, yet she didn’t return one phone call to me, didn’t reply to one email, didn’t keep me informed in any way.

This is just another example of how the council are a law unto themselves, corrupt to the core. There’s way much more to this that meets the eye. And I will make sure I find out every single fact, if it’s the last thing I do.

Even if I don’t get my planning, I will make sure that no one else has to endure the stalking and crazy-making behaviours of neighbours encouraged by planning officers.

I’m not the only one. As I dig around I’m finding more and more evidence for underhand activity, bullying and ruthless cavorting with objectors being used against applicants. And bit by bit, I’ll expose the bloody lot. Like OPD isn’t hard enough, without being a single woman in a rural area surrounded by NIMBYs who think – who KNOW – that the council are on their side.

It’s like a scene from Hot Fuzz. They’re all in it together. For the greater good? Their accusations are even more than mental. I tether my goats? Nope.. I don’t even tether my horses. And I have a holding number. And my cats are neutered. And the pest control is the cats you numbskulls.

And what about the scrapyard next door that none of you seem to notice with the bus and the engines and the squatter? And predators to my ducks? It’s your dogs that killed my ducks! I have photos! And how are you on my private facebook page? Private account? Or fake profile? How bored are you all? I’d get you all a jigsaw each, but you’d probably only be interested if it had a picture of me on it.

So, now you all have your research degrees on Tess Delaney, what are you gonna use them for? You gonna teach a class on Tess Delaney? Mastermind? Specialist subject, Tess Delaney?

And you call me mental…

Brum Brum… Let’s Go!

Last weekend I was in Birmingham for the launch of the Worker’s Party of Britain.

I’d never been to Birmingham before, except through there on a National Express bus on the way from York back home to Tenby when I was 14, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I found surprised me. Birmingham is surprisingly pretty.

A quick walk round late on Friday night surprised me also, in that I was expecting to see homeless people in doorways everywhere. I didn’t see any. By Saturday morning however, there they were. I have no idea where they spent the night. Possibly in B&Bs as part of the governments so called answer to providing shelter for the homeless, lining the pockets of yet more landlords.

Perhaps they slept somewhere out of town for safety, but still rough and in the cold. I have no idea. It’s not like I’ve never seen homeless people before, but to see them in every third doorway was quite disconcerting. We were quite near the centre, so there were buskers, street stalls, everything you’d expect to see, though far more metropolitan than I’d expected. It hasn’t always been nice cafés with outside seating though, I’ve been told.

On the journey into the city, as I wasn’t driving (so you can’t report me to the council for my carbon footprint, ok?) I was able to look around and observe. Lines of Victorian detached and semi-detached housing gave way to heights of flats, and council tenements, right next to Edwardian architecture with gated cul-de-sacs.

All classes mixed in together, within feet of each other, but delineating lines at every opportunity; we are rich, you are poor, us on this side, you on that side. We have trees and red brickwork, you have scuffled grass and concrete paths.

The daylight sideshow of people trying to sleep or collect coins, surrounded by their meagre possessions and paltry blankets, emphasised things further. We are in the lovely café, you are in the doorway of the empty boarded up shop next door.

Such juxtaposition within the constant hum of the city triggered all sorts of indignation in me, especially as I’d spent the morning listening to inspiring speeches by the likes of Joti Brar and George Galloway.

I had class war on the mind, but here was class integration, dichotomy acceptance, run of the mill ordinariness. Ignoring each other, Never the twain shall meet.

The amount of security in Tesco Express belied the friendliness of the people holding doors open for each other on the car park stairs. The view from the back of the Travelodge was of an old industrial building, which to me looked like it used to be some kind of workhouse.

The front façade concreted over with bright signs, the back side with broken windows providing homes for the magpies and their Halal fries. Like the theatre, all fronts and no backs, an old world hidden, and replaced with the Bullring and light shows and Marks and Sparks, with constant advertisements on screens using more power per day than I use in a year.

The history of the place, the workers that built it, airbrushed away, kept in the distant flats. It all seemed very reminiscent of home, and then you realise that all places are essentially the same. Our industries were farming and farming. Now they’re subsidised farming, tourism, and caring for the ever ageing population of Pembrokeshire.

70% of jobs advertised locally are for care workers. Little wonder, when again we have a national newspaper, encouraging people to move to Pembs this week.

Not South Pembs though, says the Guardian. Go to North Pembs. Much less busy, because all the grockles are down south. This, to a local like me means one thing. That pretty soon, just like Tenby spread up to Narberth and made it touristy, South Pembs is going to spread North, and the grockles will be here too, and we’ll have no escape at all.

We already have villages in North Pembs where most homes are holiday homes, so let’s fill the rest with retirees from elsewhere, and keep the work going for all those careers that Pembrokeshire has.

I have nothing against people moving in from away per se, but what is really annoying, is that they sometimes do the same as they do when they move to somewhere like Benidorm,. They turn all the pubs British, put their flags up and shout at everyone in their own tones.

The middle class version is to complain to the council about local activity, insist that farmers don’t leave mud on the road, demanding the pot holes by their property are fixed and tarmacked immediately, and kick off about how slowly everything is happening for them, when they campaigned for their own private bridle track and it hasn’t yet happened.

Meanwhile, there is no industry and no work. The docks became marinas. Unless you can get into Valero or the LNG sites, which you won’t because most of their workers come from away, another reason our rents are so high.

It became so clear to me on Saturday, that the old class attitudes haven’t gone anywhere. It’s still the same old fight as it ever was, the only difference is that the class thing has been lost in the identity politics of neo-liberalism, and we’re all so busy thinking about all the wrong things, and worrying our little heads about Love Island, Rights for all, PC versus non PC, Brexit arguments, that real life has been forgotten.

The loneliness was the thing that struck me the most about the homeless people that I saw in Brum that day. And it was also what I saw in a lot of the people at the rally, including myself, all looking for something to believe in, and it was an irony not lost on me that the rally just happened to take place in a church, and there’s George Galloway orating like a trilby wearing king with a massive crucifix behind him.

I’m no religious believer, but I’m a believer in higher powers of some kind. The rally felt comfortable, like an old coat of people that I felt I’d met before, made up of leavers, remainers, left wing, right wing, no wing, ex-Communist party members, ex-UKIP members, ex-Labour members… everyone was represented. Many people spoke passionately and knowledgeably. It was the most inspired I’ve ever felt about politics.

We heard the truth about the NHS from Dr Ranjeet Brar, a surgeon, and Dr Bob Gill, a GP, harbingers of shocking truths. We also heard from working class poet Christopher McGlade, who had been getting abuse that morning on Twitter just for agreeing to turn up. Someone must be worried.

So many people have never voted because they see no point, because the parties are all the same. In that case, It’s time to get involved. It’s time to become the parties. And it doesn’t matter what party. Just get busy. Local elections are only two years away….

Being British, we’re not likely to set light to ourselves and fight the police like the French have been. But we’re very likely to read something, see something, get disgruntled with the injustice and write in to complain.

Let’s concentrate on complaining about the stuff that matters. The homeless, foodbank collections, the destruction of the NHS. Get incensed all you like, but get angry about things other than the fact that Pembrokeshire doesn’t yet have a Waitrose and you miss it.

Try compassion. Think about the people in this county, the poorest area in Northern Europe, the people whose county you are moving to. Respect that their industries have been destroyed, and that’s why you’re able to buy a “cheap” house here. Don’t complain about the farmers. Support them. Don’t judge the people who don’t have much. Understand them.

Otherwise, if all you want to do is recreate your city and push the nastiness backstage, there are other places probably more suitable.

Try Benidorm.

And the little one said, “roll over…”

Many years ago, my brother, with malice aforethought, abandoned me to the parish and moved to Cornwall. He had to for work, so I’ll kind of let him off. He bought a nice cottage in a nice village with fields in front and out back, with an uninterrupted view of Plymouth.

Now, all these years later, he’s selling his place, because inevitably, developers have been making their way up the hill, and the final nail in the coffin was a broad terrace ten feet from his front window.

Houses started going up over the back, and the upstairs windows will look right down his previously very private garden. So of course, he’s not particularly happy, but he knew it was coming. You can’t move into a village with land in it, and expect that it will never be built upon, because that’s how it works. Boundaries are drawn up on the local development plan, and all planning permission within this area will be granted, especially if it’s a developer with lots of clout.

A similar thing happened in Maenclochog. Houses are to built that no one really wanted, but Maenclochog was chosen because it had a school with dwindling numbers, two shops, and the resources to service a community. Population growth means that more houses need to be built. But where? No one wants them next door to them.

I saw a thread on Twitter where people had been saying, if you can’t afford London rents, then move out of the city. Ok. But then, the people who are struggling with their rent, are the low waged service workers. Who will bring the frappachinos if the servers all live outside the M25?

Ultimately, the same old attitude is being displayed. People want their services, and their service workers, but they don’t want to have to look at them, or live near them.

The land I bought for my OPD is agricultural land, which used to be part of around 100 acres surrounding a farmhouse. Over the years, the previous farmhouse owner pulled a great deal of blags, and managed to put two houses up without the council getting him to take them down.

After a time, they were granted a certificate of lawfulness in that they had been there for more than four years. He did, as they say, get away with it. The people who now own these houses, are the people that are now objecting to my OPD.

In the same way that my brother bought land in a village, and must expect more village to appear, these people bought agricultural land, but with no intention of using it for agriculture, and only securing themselves enough land to feel like gentry. Which means that the land around them was for sale. Someone had to buy that land. It could have been farmers, with machinery and cows and thousands of sheep, or it could be someone wanting to do OPD and have a small poly-culture farm, which, by way of Welsh Assembly Policy, is entitled to build a zero carbon dwelling from which to run the said micro farm.

The neighbours are very upset about this. Much more upset than my brother was, even though my OPD is in no way overlooking them or invading their privacy. The owner of the farmhouse stated in his objections that the land couldn’t possibly accommodate another dwelling. Respectfully, my old housing estate would have fitted into his agricultural land garden with room to spare. The bit of land he plays with and mows with his toy tractor would be holding around thirty houses were it within a town or village boundary, I’m pretty sure my brother would have preferred a largely unnoticeable single dwelling with lots of biodiversity.

The sense of entitlement, to assume that living in the countryside means lots of private space, and then making as habit of complaining about local farming activities, is somewhat galling. They could have bought the surrounding land to ensure that no one else did, as a friend of mine did once. Failing that, like everyone else, they are at the mercy of the landowner who gets to decide who he sells to. And he sold to me. He knew I wanted to OPD.

But to my neighbours – farmers, people who produce their food, and staff who produce their luxuries should be seen and not heard, like the servants living in the basement in the gentrified houses of old. They need their Asda delivery man and their postman and their garage services and their log men and their oil delivery guys and their garçon up the road who they call for every job heavier than opening a bottle of wine, but they don’t want them anywhere near. They want them away, to be clicked and called when convenient. They have purchased a postcard, only to find that it smells of slurry, and my God, don’t they let the world know about it.

If it hadn’t been for the dodgy geezer who put all these houses up without planning and then sold them for a fortune to people who knew no better, then they wouldn’t be able to own these properties. If I get planning, I’ll be the only one down here with legitimate planning that wasn’t done on a blag. That’s a thought isn’t it. In this crazy status game, I think that probably elevates me to a pretty righteous position.

I’ll always farm this land though. The animals aren’t going anywhere. Neither is the tree nursery I’ve been building up. Neither am I. I’ll still be here, whether I sleep here or not is irrelevant. So the point is, what do they actually achieve by stopping my planning? Not much.

In time, the boundaries will spread no doubt. And maybe in the future I’ll have the opportunity to sell to a developer. You could fit a whole estate on my little four acres. We’re not running out of room to house people. There’s tons of room. The trick is getting past the people that would rather you went cold than spoiled their view….

The Enemy Within

Been a tough day. I’ve been responding to the objections to my appeal. Oof. It’s all online if you want to see. It’s interesting from an academic point of view, for many reasons; the minutiae of planning, the psychology of people, the things that get hidden, the power of the use of language, the way to spin something with a politician’s skill – it’s all there. Some of the things thrown at me are in fact, true. Some of the things I’m accused of, I’m guilty of, but most of the things, I’m not. There are so many points to address that I couldn’t address them all. In fact, in all honesty, I didn’t even manage to read through the entire thing. My anxiety won’t allow it. And therein lies the rub. The thing with mental illness, is that, because it can’t be seen, you try to keep it hidden. Of course, anyone who has known me over the years knows full well that I’m a bit, well, you know…. Carrie Fisher meets Karl Pilkington…

The Marmite effect is strong in this one. Some of you reading this are going.. yay.. it’s Tess from school, Brother Veg, the Stilts lady, that girl who won the weakest link… etc. Some are going.. it’s that gobby cow from school.. it’s that girl whose voice I always hated.. it’s that girl who I tried to beat up in the Castle Inn in 1989 etc…. But reading the objections to my planning appeal application, I’m wondering – blimey. Am I really that bad?

And being a bit Carrie Pilkington…. and the stigma attached to that, I’ve created this tomfoolery Music Hall face that I present, in order to hide the demons that I see when I close my eyes, or to quieten the constant music that plays in my ears. I have been known to react in the most unpredictable of ways, and some people see what’s behind it, and some people don’t.

To the uninitiated I have for all this time preferred to leave them with the impression that I’m just an idiot, or unlike-able, or flaky. It’s easier that way. But as it seems these days we’re all fighting a similar battle, in that mental health issues are on the rise at an exponential rate, then it’s probably time we addressed these things.

One good thing about what’s been going on this week, is that I’ve actually fessed up to my family and friends how difficult everything has been and how much I’ve been struggling. You don’t want to upset or worry people so you try to get by. That’s when things start to fall apart and you start to fall behind. I’d been doing a lot of that over the last few years.

But as I’ve been falling apart, I’ve been basically stalked and photographed by my neighbours the entire time. I’ve been feeling like I’m developing paranoid schizophrenia in co-morbidity with my other problems. Turns out, I wasn’t imagining the sensation of being constantly watched. My neighbours have a list of my every move, everyone who has visited me, every journey I have made. I’m not sure what they can prove with this information, other than I have very little life, very few friends round, and sometimes don’t leave my field or see anyone for a week. But instead of wondering how that’s normal, they take photographs and use it to prove that I’m an imbecile, and make sure I stay homeless, because I’m spoiling their retirement or holiday home postcard.

Instead of coming over and noticing that I’ve been curled up with the same cat the whole time, unable to eat and picking which tree looks strong enough to take a rope, they’re plotting how to end everything for me completely. They’ve watched me struggle, and then they’ve used it against me. And I know that I’m a div and I’m this and that, but surely some sort of basic human compassion isn’t beyond them? Is this the same mentality of the people that set fire to homeless people in tents? Just the middle class, bought a house in the country version?

It seems I’ve been unfairly harsh on the planning department and the council. I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes, and it seems that they were dealing with way more than they should have had to. I can only imagine the volumes of paperwork they’ve had to go through. No wonder they were slow! I apologise to those concerned, especially the ones who have had to listen to me at my worst, like poor Rachel Green when she came to enforce me. She definitely got a good look at me at my lowest. In my previous dealings with her she was kind to me. And I regret my actions. I regret a lot of things I did whilst at my worst. But it’s hard that when you try to make up for your failings it doesn’t make any difference. When I’m right, no-one remembers- when I’m wrong, no-one forgets. Well. I was wrong. I know it. It’s easier to live in denial, but my mind doesn’t work that way. I wish it did.

I guess at this late stage, there’s not much I can do but tell my side of the story, fess up to the way I’ve been struggling, accept that I’ve done my best at all times, and that’s all I can do. Whatever is to be will be now.

If you’re suffering, tell someone. I feel a million times better now that I’ve actually got it all out there to my family and friends. I have secured some official support, and whatever happens with my planning application, I’m pretty optimistic about the future. That might just be the prozac. But hey. Get help. Talk to a person. Anyone. Sometimes it takes rock bottom to get you heading back up in the right direction. Our mistakes are not what define us. We can only feel a certain amount of shame and guilt before it’s too much. Let it go. Be better. It’ll come in the end.

#Je Suis Albert Dryden

My appeal date has been decided. It will be on the 18th March at the community hall in Maenclochog at 10am. If you’d come to my funeral, then come to this instead, as that will be much more productive.

Finally there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The culmination of lots of hard work, heartbreak, ups and downs and round and rounds. OPD is, in its current form an absolute nightmare. The application process is long and arduous. The level of detail required is immense. The emotional impact of putting all you have into a mission, and then having months, if not years of waiting to get it through, of arguments, objections, form filling; it’s a massively stressful thing to do. On March 18th I finally get the chance to state my case at the public hearing, a site visit will happen, (there will be cake) and then a few days later I’ll get my decision.

If I fail, I’m not sure what I’ll do next. Some people in this position just carry on. It becomes a case of putting more money in the machine. Like Space Invaders. Two applications and an appeal… dead, dead dead. Three lives gone. Put another coin in.

Cornerwood in Ceredigion finally achieved planning at the high court last year, only to be now told they’re being taken to court again. After three appeals and a high court appearance already in the bag, estimates are that it has so far cost Ceredigion council somewhere in the region of 100k to fight this small group of people who want nothing more than to live and work on their own land. It was all over. Now it’s starting up again. I salute the strength of the inhabitants there. They’re hardcore. I’m not sure I could play that game.

Some people go to court and refuse to leave their land anyway, preferring instead to pay the fine over a long amount of time. That’s not a bad option. A slow paid fine is pretty cheap rent.

But what I decide to do after that initial refusal at appeal, well, that remains to be seen. I could just keep fighting with fresh coins. I could run away to Portugal. I could go crazy.

There is that famous story of Albert Dryden from County Durham, who shot the planning officer dead when he turned up with bulldozers to knock his house down. He also shot a policeman and a news reporter. At the court hearing he was deemed sane, but having been through the process myself, I can absolutely confirm that he was anything but. He was jailed for life.

How is it possible to stay sane through such a process? A process we only undertake because we’re trying to escape the insanity of a world where consumerism is king,and it’s all about the latest sofa, toaster, or foodbank, depending on what end of the spectrum you reside. My neighbour once called me mental. Saying I must be for wanting to do this. She’s right. I am mental. But not in the way she thinks. Doing what I’m doing is a good thing. Mental is paying 280k for a prefab.

I have a lot of friends who live on council estates or in overpriced private rentals in the county that say they’d love to be doing what I’m doing. That is, OPD, not being hauled over the coals by the gerontocracy.

So. Could this not be an answer to our predicaments? The housing need in Pembrokeshire is huge, the situation is dire. The housing benefit bill is enormous. It would be cheaper and a lot more sensible, when the council discuss their future LDP, to suggest that farmland near to towns or on bus routes could be purchased for the purpose of OPD villages.

Instead of being dumped in a council house, you’re able to live on the land, help build your own home, learn new skills, grow your food. Kids on these sites would learn basic skills like tree identification, gardening. Taking responsibility for the land. And the biggest benefit? Many of these people are so distressed by their grey future in crappy, mouldy social housing, trapped in a benefits loop, that their depression gets the better of them. From my own mental health point of view, I know that waking up to nature and birdsong, with an itinerary of work for the day that is both rewarding and humbling, physical work, planning, things to build and use transferable skills, goes a long way to reducing the need for copious amounts of prozac. Think of how much the NHS spends on anti depressants. And though clearly there are real clinical needs for some drugs, in many cases, depression is manageable by lifestyle changes.

Diet changes occur naturally when you’re growing veg and making soup out of what’s available. Nothing is more exciting than collecting stuff from the garden for dinner, being inventive with what’s in season. Nothing is more engaging than caring for chickens and collecting eggs. Or caring for other animals, whether pets and livestock. These are things that kids used to do a lot, and now they don’t. 50s council houses had big gardens. It was accepted that people wanted to grow veg and have outdoor space. Now council houses are packed in as tightly as possible. How is anyone supposed to breathe? Or think? Let alone grow anything.

As communities, think of what could be achieved. Friendly environments where childcare is shared and the group contributes their different skills and learns new ones. Eco houses can be built for as little as five grand. They can be made modular to easily accommodate extra bedrooms if needed, when new child arrives, or an elderly relative needs to be with family.

Think of the cash saved by the NHS, the fall in cases of depression, the improved mental health benefits of such a scheme, the way that families could care for elders in mixed age households with plenty of support and help. A return to the extended family model. The village model. The community model.

No housing benefit bills for single parents as they would be in a home that is already paid for. Homes would be off grid, run on solar power and wind. No electricity bills. Rainwater harvesting means no water bills. Super insulated homes means low heating bills. The bane of peoples’ lives, bills – all gone in one fell swoop. All you have to find money for is council tax and internet.

OPD has the potential to solve so many problems, not only locally, but nationally too. It needs much adjusting, but instead of fighting it, councils should be working out the best ways to utilise it.

If people are upset by people moving to Wales to do OPD, as Stephen Crabb claims, then he could help to campaign to make it possible in the rest of the the UK. There’s plenty of land around. It’s not the Industrial Revolution anymore. We don’t all need to be packed tightly into the cities. We can go back to the land we should never have left.

There are plenty of subsidies being paid out to farmers to leave their fields empty, doing nothing and contributing nothing to biodiversity. Imagine that land as gardens, allotments, comfortable, cheap and warm homes, that are built sustainably and with the future in mind – of the inhabitants above all else.

Think of the fun the kids would have. All that den building. Learning new skills. Skills that have been lost. Traditional skills. Imagine that today’s game is building a real fortress in the trees, not a pretend one on Minecraft. That would work. Tell me why it wouldn’t?

We need to make this a thing. How do we make this a thing? Help me make this a thing, hoomans….