Tory or turkey?

Wasn’t it an interesting election night? I had visitors staying, so I gave up my caravan and removed myself to my second home – the back of my van – where I ate cold chips and monitored general developments closely until I fell asleep. This morning, on checking for news, I was greeted by a photograph of the now former MP, Jane Ellison sporting the thousand-yard-stare of a turkey about to be guillotined. Which brings me to my first point, which is that as a fellow human being, you have to feel at least a bit sorry for MPs.

I think general election nights are the closest we in Britain come, to the revolting spectacle of public execution. Can you think of another scenario in which people are hauled before the baying mob to hear their fate? (OK, ignore X-Factor – who cares whether you can sing). It must be an excruciating experience for the losers. “You Jane Ellison, have been publicly fired, your career severed at the neck. May the Lord have mercy upon your miserable spin.”

Well she, and many others are gonners, others have taken their places, self-basting in the butter of public support…for now, because as we all know, summer goslings are Xmas’ geese. Which brings me to our native American friends.

The Lakota people

Former Tory MP, Jane Ellison

Imagine getting all annoyed at being called an Indian, even though you’re not from India, only to be called native American, when to you, it’s not even America?? I got this from a book – Neither Dog nor Wolf by Christopher Sweeney – very good it is too.

These are the paraphrased words of “Dan” of the Lakota people, who’s not bothered by being called an Indian. Point is, he says in Indian culture, a leader is only a leader as long as the people follow him or her; it’s the organic organising and reorganising of society in response to the specific demands of the day. As soon as people drift off to follow someone else, the previous leader is no longer a leader. To Indians, he says, elections are anathema – who needs to be represented, when everyone represents themselves?

In that culture, you follow someone if they’re good, skillful, wise, etc. – or you don’t. Following that logic, Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a leader because he won the Labour Party leadership – although of course he did – he’s a leader because a lot of people think he’s worth following. Think back to how horrified the establishment were, following his successful leadership bids.

“He can’t be a leader because he’s not a cock.”

Leaders aren’t cocky

 

Compare that to Theresa May, whose stance on Brexit, and domestic policy could be said to imply: “I’m a cocky Prime Minister. You owe me your vote.”

And suddenly, she’s lost the support of swathes of the population of these islands. Maybe we have more in common with the very sensible first people of the land mass to the far west of Ireland than we might have thought. Turns out Theresa May, may thanks to our political system, remain Prime Minister, but a leader she is no longer.

The Cornish connection

Dan the Lakota says that now Westerners have decided Indians possess a romantic, earthy wisdom, it’s no longer enough that they exterminated almost the entire people, now they want to expropriate the immortal soul of the culture too: They want to be Indian.

That struck a note with me, what with people moving to Cornwall who seem to think that by claiming distant Cornish lineage, it gives them the right to buy second homes here, making biannual visits during which they park their Range Rovers on your feet, and when you ask them to move, wind down their windows, smile patronisingly and pronounce the word “d’recky” with a Home Counties drawl.

I’m annoyed and I’m not even Cornish – though I do sometimes fudge the issue by saying I’m a Westcountry boy. What a hypocrite. Don’t follow me – I don’t know where I’m going.

 

 

 

No. You don’t.

One word says it all…

That word was ‘deserve’, and the utterer was Michael Gove. Got my blood boiling. Eddie Mair was quizzing him about the Tory manifesto on yesterday’s PM programme on Radio Four, and part of that discussion centred on the Tory commitment to introduce means testing for the winter fuel allowance.

Gove made a throw-away comment about his parents being elderly but still perfectly capable of filling in a form which would determine whether they ‘deserved’ the payments.

 

 

So we’re surfs now

Let’s look at the word deserve. According to the Cambridge English dictionary, it means: “To have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have.” It comes from the Latin ‘deservire’, to serve well or zealously.

The word ‘deserve’ is a relic from feudal days when your lord would decide whether you ‘deserved’ to be rewarded or punished for your loyal service, or the lack thereof.

Michael Gove’s use of the word ‘deserve’, reveals both his personal philosophy, and his party’s agenda. It speaks of a society split between the rulers and the ruled. It also speaks of a society in which the ruled are divided between the unworthy, undeserving, scrounging poor and the virtuous contributing majority, the ‘hard-working families’, if you will.

I’d like to remind Michael Gove that no matter how much he might like to believe otherwise, the days the robber barons are past. Though we are, technically, subjects of the Queen, our unwritten constitution affords us the status of ‘citizens’. Let’s see what that word means.

Citizen

Citizen: “A person who is a member of a particular country and who has rights because of being born there or because of being given rights, or a person who lives in a particular town or city.”

This is a good word, and hey, look at that – we have “rights” – moral and/or legal entitlements. It turns out that the winter fuel payment is an entitlement conferred by the welfare state in accordance with the qualification criteria agreed by the democratically elected government.

Rewards for the so-called ‘deserving’ are subject to the whim of the bestower. As citizens, our rights are non-negotiable, and they entitle us to an equal stake in the society to which we belong. The role of our public institutions is to protect, and administer our rights, without bias or favour. Deserving has nothing to do with it, and the fact that Mr Gove doesn’t understand the distinction speaks volumes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You definitely DON’T want to live here

For at least the past year and possibly longer, I’ve been dead set against the idea of blogging, writing articles, or indeed, adding any more words to that huge steaming pile of horse shit, we call ‘content’. It’s a flaming Tower of Babel; millions of people attempting to out-compete one another to be ‘heard’. Unless you’re the victim of some horrendous injustice, why would you need to be ‘heard’? Maybe I’ve been living in Cornwall too long.

Speaking of which, I’m on the train. I just went and got myself a coffee and bacon baguette – a steal at eight quid, GWR ought to be nicked. There was a short lull in trade and the chap behind the counter was telling me that he’s not looking forward to the introduction of the new flat sided pound coin. “It’s not going to fit in my coin tray is it?” He said. “I don’t like change.” I wondered if perhaps he had an irrational preference for paper money, but no, it turns out he’s just Cornish.

Anyway, while the reason I decided to start blogging again remains unclear, what I would like to say, if anyone’s interested in ‘hearing’ me, is that the woman opposite, a highly made up lady of some vintage, is working away furiously at her laptop. And she’s got a notepad out and is scribbling away – also furiously. What the bloody hell does she think she’s doing? Not only is she making me feel as though I should also be working, she might be having the same effect on other people too.

So far, I’ve seen a deer, several pheasants, a couple of horses – one of which was chomping grass while the other acted as lookout – and an annoyed-looking lady waiting at a level crossing. And she’s working??? Why? If she was reading, I guess I’d understand, but why is she working when she could be looking out of the window? She must be mad,

And you certainly WOULDN’T want to live here either

While I’m on one, it turns out that readers of the Sunday Times have voted Falmouth, their favourite place to live. Oh great. Of course the papers down here are full of it. “Falmouth – Britain’s Favourite Town’ and all that. Well, yes, Falmouth is great, but it’s hardly a good idea to make such a fuss about it is it?

It’s bad enough that so many well-heeled up-country people are moving down here, without encouraging more to do the same. Not that I have a problem with people coming here, it’s just that they keep buying up the flaming houses. Local people are being forced out of the housing market because the ready supply of big bucks is forcing prices ever higher, while at the same time other local people are being forced out of their rented homes because of greedy landlords who know they’ll make more money renting to students. The new builds are, according to rumour, advertised on billboards at the London stations (I’ll check that out when I arrive).

Meanwhile the numbers living in caravans, boats, sheds, and nowhere inches ever higher. So what I’m saying is, if you fancy living in Falmouth, I’ve heard Slough is lovely during the spring.

She’s still at it. I’m sticking to my guns. Why waste time working when you could be looking out of the window???

 

It’s a simple enough question but I wonder how many of us have actually stopped long enough to ask ourselves where we want to be in five years? Not me, that’s for sure. Where other people have “careers”, I seem to have been “careering”. Think of a car with no one at the wheel – that’s me.

The Soviets were famous for five year plans

The Soviets were famous for five-year plans

But yesterday, I bumped into an old friend, Kath Morgan, co-founder of the Writing Retreat. She had a great story to tell. Not only is the retreat going from strength to strength, with places booking up fast for residential courses featuring guest speakers like Patrick Gale and Emily Barr, but – and here’s the thing – she also knows where she and her business partner aim to be in five years.

Five years! I’ve never thought further ahead than the next five minutes. Which leads me to my next point. I’ve been lucky. I never set out to be a writer, it just happened. I didn’t mean to write a book, I just did. I only entered the Bath Novel Award because a friend suggested it.

I came second! And I put that down to hard work and lots of it. The question I keep asking myself is, how much more could I have achieved over the last five years, if I’d had a plan?

Man plans and God laughs

I think it’s an old Jewish saying, that man plans and God laughs – and I think it’s right to a point. But then again, if you never make a plan, the one thing you can be sure of is that your dreams are unlikely to come true. At least if you plan ahead there’s a chance, you’ll end up somewhere close.

A boat harnesses the wind. We should harness our creative energies

A boat harnesses the wind. We should harness our creative energies

Take my friend Captain Jim (Jaaarrrrrr), who lives in New Zealand. He and his wife decided to build a boat from some trees cut down on a nearby island. They had the planks milled, and they did use a drill press, but apart from that, they designed and built their yacht by hand.

It took them ten years. But what a boat! their experience is proof positive that effort in a direction produces results.

Needless to say, I’m not going to be drifting through the next five years (I’m thinking trilogy). So what’s your plan?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author of the best selling, The Humans, Matt Haig has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times. On 27th April, he begins a two-week residency at Falmouth University. That’s wonderful, but there’s just one problem. The position is taken.

haig

Matt Haig Source: WMN

Well OK, it’s not but it is. I guess you’d have to say, if he’s the writer in residence, I am the semi-resident writer. It all started with the food in the canteen…

It was the depths of winter, a little less than three years ago, when someone passed on a rumour that the canteen at Falmouth University had started serving food in the evenings. At the time, I was – and still am – living in a 12 foot caravan in a field near Penryn.

 

I have no electric, and no shower, so you can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of a warm place to sit and eat food not prepared by candle light. Heaven. And it was warm. Oh the shear illicit joy of tucking into cottage pie under electric light. I nearly wept.

Then there’s the shower outside the library. You, with your mod cons might not realise this, but a shower is an outing. Oh yes it is.

And there’s a library – yes I know – filled with books. I began to dwell, and to continue to work on what I started when I was even more home free – living in my van at the side of the road – my book. I became semi-resident.

Discovery

I was always scared my muddy wellies might give me away, so I would drop hints to the dinner ladies implying I might be a member of staff: “Ho hum, another long day…” “Gosh I can’t wait for the holidays…”

Filled with hot grub and pricked by a slight sense of guilt at the enormity of my deception, I wrote and wrote.

uni

Home sweet semi-home

There have been other writers in residence. Owen Shears was one, Lionel Shriver spoke here, and now of course Dawn French is in on the action – it’s been nice to see them. But through it all, I’ve been here, scribbling on, hoping to one day be someone’s discovery.

They no longer do grub in the evenings, but it doesn’t matter so much now because I’ve gone legit. I work here.

Fulmar is the book – a coming of age story from Cornwall. It’s finished and I’m plugging away promoting it. The reviews have been excellent so far. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll swap places with Matt. In the meantime, from one resident to another, I say, welcome to Falmouth, I look forward to the pleasure of your company. But let’s get one thing straight. I’m the one who lives here.

 

Poldark, it’s a posh stick of rock! It says Cornwall all the way through, it’s kitch as you like and it’s sickly sweet. No doubt the series will prove a hit and the Cornish tourist industry will get a boost, blah, blah, blah.

I get that plenty of people love a good costume drama – and who am I to deny them? I just wish for once we could have a portrayal of Cornwall that’s not either set in the 18th century or fronted by Caroline Quentin.

But I have a solution…

Read my book!

Fulmar_cover_final3 copy

It’s the Poldark antidote and it’s about a 15 year old Cornish kid from the rough end of town. Jacob Penhallow – you’ll love him. Here’s his pitch:

I’m flat on my face, chewing the tarmac when this bloke nearly runs me over. But instead of giving me a hard time, he gives me a surfboard, a Fulmar. Smiles like he knows something good’s gonna happen, drives off.

But I got the law on my case, and Dad’s dead. Plus there’s Mum: addicted to daytime TV, smokes so many Lambert and Butlers even the dog’s got a cough.

On the up side there’s Karl, surf lifeguard and legend who stops me drowning in more ways than one. There’s surfing and new mates, big waves. Lifeguard training.

And Jade; brainy, scary in a good way – hot.

If only Aiden never wanted to kill me it might be happy ever after, but he does and it ain’t…

Jacob Penhallow, fifteen, gnarly North Cornwall.

Realism
Set amid the surfing and surf lifesaving scene in North Cornwall, Fulmar is gritty and funny, realistic and authentic. It’s Cornwall as it is, the stunning, no frills, community minded place I love. Here’s what one reader said about Fulmar- and I don’t even know him:

A BRILLIANT READ. I have just finished reading this book, from page one I was hooked, such a brilliant read. This was Robin Falveys first book and I am looking forward to reading his next one. Well done Robin.

Maybe someone will turn it into a TV series! Click here to download your copy

First things first, when they say 4 – 5 foot and clean, this is what they mean!

Cleansurf

Second, if you’re feeling stressed, or even if you’re not, you can’t beat a walk along the cliff path from Porthtowan to St Agnes. When the weather is nice, sitting on the cliff edge taking in the view is a fine way to spend a few minutes. If you’re city-bound, desk-bound or any other kind of bound, I hope you’ll enjoy this little treat.

All you have to do is plug in your earphones and click on this link: Seascape then scoot back to this tab and click on the picture below – I recorded the sound as I sat there – so now you can enjoy the view too.view

 

Saltire 15486670_s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought I might as well add my two pennyworth to the mountain of opinion about the Scottish referendum. Cornwall is about as far removed from Scotland as it’s possible to get, but what the heck, we’re all celts, and besides, I did go to Stirling University.

When I left home (Devon) for Scotland, it was 1990 and I was 18 years old. All I knew about Stirling University was that, a) it was a long way from home and b) it wasn’t in a city. For me at the time, that made it the obvious choice. Here’s what I discovered on arrival:

I didn’t have a clue what anyone was saying.

Later, once I’d acclimatised, I found myself in a place radically different from the one I’d left. I had thought sectarianism was something that happened only in Northern Ireland, and I had thought Scotland was kind of like England but with tartan, haggis and the bagpipes.

Foreign flag
Lionrampant.svg

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I discovered was that I qualified, albeit among only very small minority, as a “Fucking English Bastard; among others I was a rare exception, being “alright” and from a race of Fucking English Bastards; mostly, I was what I was – a clueless kid from Devon who regularly drank far too much Tartan Special, only to vomit it all into my wastepaper basket later on.

People had Scottish flags on their walls, “Remember Bannockburn”, was a popular slogan. I didn’t even know where Bannockburn was. I remember heated debates about Scottish independence, the chippy comments about the oil ‘stolen’ by England. It was unexpected, and it made me think, which is what University is (or should be) for.

Scotland was and still is a different country, which doesn’t mean I’m keen to see the break up of the United Kingdom, but I can see the the case for it. And we all know how in touch Westminster is with the 99% of us.

English invasion

england-flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, if the Scots think they’ll get shot of their colonial overlords by voting YES tomorrow, they should think again. As much as we may be fed up with politicians, they are actually elected, which means they’re not overlords but representatives. No. The feudal overlords are the 432 members of the Scottish aristocracy who own half of all the privately owned land in Scotland. They are the colonial overlords, with the Queen at their head. In this, Scotland has much in common with Cornwall where Prince Charles and Lord Falmouth own great tracts of land.

If it’s the English the Scots are worried about, well, they should be. That’s because if they do vote for independence, lots of us English (including the Cornish) will want to migrate there. If they vote no, but get all the extra powers promised, well then watch out Scotland, because once again, the English will want to move there. If you become the country you promise to be, you’ll need your own version of UKIP to try to keep us out.

When it comes down to it, it’s not just you lot who are sick and tired of the same old bollocks from the same old vested interests, we all are. So tomorrow, when you vote, you “Fucking Scottish Bastards”, whether you vote Yes, or NO, vote for all of us. Vote for change.

John_Wesley-3

John Wesley: The Cornish often used to run him out of town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I switched on the radio this morning and was treated to a nice documentary by Quentin Letts on the subject of Methodism.

Bloody hell, I thought, it’s been done already – by me!

Methodism documentary

Here’s the piece I made in 2010 about the state of Cornish Methodism. Have a listen and compare. I think Quentin asked the better question, but he passed over the significance of Methodism to the mining communities of Wales and Cornwall. Still, you can’t do it all in half an hour…