Plant Tending In A Pandemic; Untying The Gordian Knot

The Gordian Knot As Doorstop
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

My reference to “untying the Gordian Knot” is somewhat ethereal. I’ve been giving some though to the complex threads that underpin the whole Covid “debate” whilst, at the same time, taking some note of which people and organisations are getting rich, both directly off the back of the Pandemic and indirectly by dint of the reactions of the majority of Western Governments. The main players are no surprise. The numbers though may well be. Pfizer forecasts to sell $33.5 billion worth of Covid vaccine in 2021. The Vanguard Group and BlackRock Inc. between them own just over $40 billion of stock in Pfizer, this equates to around 900 million ordinary shares, the half year dividend to June 2021 was 39cents per share. As the saying goes, you do the math.

Astrazeneca shares currently trade at around £86 each, with half yearly dividends forecast to be IRO £2. Although BlackRock has divested itself of 41% of its holdings in AZ, to  no doubt to “invest” in Pfizer, it still holds some $490million. Goldman Sachs, where ex Civil Servant, Remainiac fanatic and “Brexit” negotiator Ollie Robbins is now employed, has recently upped their stake by 15% to 9.5 million shares. Nice work if you can get it, so long as you don’t mind the accompanying stench.

Lock downs worked for more than just Big Pharma investors though. Geoff Bezos saw his personal wealth increase by $75billion in 2020. Estimates vary on the actual number of dollar billionaires in the world, but it’s around 1,200. Their total wealth increased by $10.2trillion in 2020, though it has to be said some of them did drop the odd $10 note into a charity box or two. Don’t get me wrong here, although these sums are eye wateringly staggering I can see no reason why wealth shouldn’t be accumulated, although wealth of this magnitude takes some comprehending.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, is also a billionaire. Given the holdings BlackRock has in Big Pharma that situation is unlikely to change. Over the last 18 months or so, whilst the whole human race has been fighting a “Deadly Global Pandemic” for its very existence billionaire Elon Musk (who is partnered with NASA), billionaire Jeff Bezos and billionaire (our very own) Richard Branson have been indulging their love of Boys Toys by racing each other into “space”. Conservative estimates put their collective investment into these ventures currently at around $200 million, but hey, who’s counting?

Estimates vary, but it’s thought that 1% of the global population own 43% of the global wealth. Five of the worlds ten “wealthiest” people, Bezos, Gates, Musk, Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet are “worth”, between them $750 billion. For comparison, the average wealth of a UK citizen (all assets) is IRO £286,000. Here I make no assumption about where these vast sums are kept, or invested, or even hidden from the taxman, they’re purely for illustrative purposes, but it’s worth bearing in mind, that along with the major Global investment corporations, they all have the ear of governments, “scientists” and the like. Some of them make no secret of their involvement in (and funding of) major pharmaceutical companies and research laboratories, including The Wuhan Lab, along with their enthusiastic support for a range of Covid-19 vaccines, a couple of which have only emergency approval and several of which, even though order books are filled, are yet to be approved (though I have no doubt they will be).

I could go on, many things are happening which should alarm us all, not least the move towards a form of “Rentier” Capitalism as Global corporations and banking giants, who can no longer rely on standard profit streams, are buying swathes of land and residential properties simply to rent them back to users & trouser the profit for little risk. One concern I’ve heard voiced is that farmland is being acquired in the US at an alarming rate. The fear being that control over the means of food production would lead us to the dystopian future many are warning about, a future where dissent or non compliance with diktat would lead to food supplies being withheld until such time as (New World) order was restored. It hardly bears thinking about.

Another rambler of a rant, I know, but it serves to illustrate my real (if simplistic) point. Governments the world over are “borrowing” money, which doesn’t really exist, to buy “vaccines” (although the same could easily be said about bullets) from Big Pharma. This money, as we’re about to find out, is manufactured for lending on the basis of future tax returns. Big Pharma makes huge profits from being able to offer an unlimited supply of hastily concocted “vaccines”, without risk to their margins, for an unspecified amount of time. The money to buy the vaccines is “invented” money, the profits, used to buy the Super Yachts and the Monaco apartments, is all too real. As always, I don’t have the answer, but if we’re truly in a situation where the worlds richest people are looking to “reset” economies, populations and social hierarchies, we seem to be playing right into their hands, via our elected governments, with many of us having closed our eyes to incompetence on a grand scale, OR corruption of the highest order, OR the prospect of a terrifying dystopian future for everyone but a privileged few. Maybe it’s a combination of the three?

Bruschetta, My Way
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

On to more interesting things, the season draws to its inevitable close but the eating remains of the highest quality. Lots of things can be purchased in eateries which are called “bruschetta”, many of them will be a joy to eat, but I’ve stuck to my version for some years now and it never fails to hit the spot. Fresh ripe tomatoes dressed in decent Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a little salt, pepper and sugar, a dash of vinegar (not malt, I use cider or balsamic) and some torn basil leaves and left to marinate for an hour or two, served on toast, drizzled with oil, baked in the oven until just crisp and rubbed lightly with a cut garlic clove before serving. Not the greatest picture in the world, but you get the gist, I’m sure.

Third Tallest Tree In England, Imagine The Kindling
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

The old “Forty Things To Do When You’ve Been Married For Forty Years” has taken another step towards conclusion. Meant to be completed by August 2018, we managed to complete number 35 the day before our 44th anniversary. I blame the “Global Pandemic” for our tardiness. We took the open top bus from Keswick to Ambleside, where we took a walk in the woods to view Cumbria’s tallest (third tallest in England) tree, which stands in Skelghyll Woods on the Wansfell Holme estate, just outside the town.  When last measured this magnificent Grand Fir topped out at 189ft 6ins, a truly magnificent specimen and one of many fine large trees in this arboretum. There’s a short way marked walk which, if you like this sort of thing, is well worth doing. Limited car parking is available, but it’s less than half a mile out of town and from the nearest bus stop. Re-boarding the bus we returned to Grasmere where we first visited The Grasmere Brewery Tap (The Good Sport) for a trio of half pint tasters, a 4.1% amber bitter, a session pale, also 4.1% and a hoppy IPA at 5.5%, all, in their own way, eminently drinkable. A short walk took us to The Daffodil Hotel for afternoon tea, before returning home, via Keswick, again on the open top bus. A great day out and another Lakes “must do” crossed off the list. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why anyone would wear a face mask whilst travelling on the top deck of an open topped bus through open countryside, but maybe those people that were doing so felt they had good reason.

Who Doesn’t Love A Juicy Plum?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

Standing in front of my greenhouse, to the side of the “Bait Cabin” is a magnificent old plum tree, It didn’t produced any fruit at all in 2020 and what little it did produce in 2019 was tasteless and small. I feared it’d never again reach it’s earlier profuseness but I have a relative who’s spent some years of his life as a professional gardener and I asked his advice. He suggested a quite harsh “pollarding” of the whole tree, warning me that it may not bring results in the first year of regrowth but it was probably, although risky, the best way to save the tree, which, to be fair, was looking a little the worse for wear. I had no idea where to start but I needn’t have worried, he took the job on and gave the tree a really good all over trim. The results, at least so far, have been way beyond my expectations. Copious amounts of juicy, well shaped and virtually canker free fruit have formed and are already making great eating. The jam pan will soon be on the go.

Sweet Amy Yellow Pepper
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

I’ve mentioned, once or twice, my ambition to make a large amount of Chili Jelly using only self grown fruit plus jam sugar & cider vinegar, based on a simple Nigella Lawson recipe which I’ve been using now for several years. Everyone who tries it loves it and there never seems to be enough. To that end I’ve created a “plantation” of sweet peppers and chilies which are slowly coming into fruit. The original recipe results in a lovely sweet and spicy bright red jam but I’m hoping to ring the changes by introducing different coloured peppers and chilies of differing strengths to liven up both cheeses and cold meats. Here’s hoping I get it right, if not there’s always next year.

Red When Ripe, A Friggitello Pepper
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

This will be my last article until October, by which time I’m hoping to have the jams and chutneys in the cupboard and most of the leeks “souped” and in the freezer. As illegal immigration continues apace, with no sign of our government wanting to really put a halt to it, my thoughts return to the societal divisions which continue to plague us. The media seems happy to foster said divisions, quite probably on behalf of a political system that, for the first time, seems quite happy to show us its “lizard skin”. Divided as we are, Remain vs Leave (still), “vaccinated” vs un-vaccinated, mask zealots vs unmasked, young vs old, Lockdown sceptic vs Lockdown fanatic, gender warriors vs gender realists (the list goes on), wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all came together and challenged the hegemony by saying “enough is enough”, take your Globalist aspirations, your useful idiots, your anti-white agenda and shove them all where the sun doesn’t shine. One can dream, I suppose.

© Colin Cross 2021

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