A View From (Somewhere In The Area Of) The Greenhouse; We’re All “Far Right” Now….Innit?

The River Eamont, By St. Ninians
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

Life carries on apace and, as things start to slow down a little in the greenhouse I find myself having time to venture out into the countryside, along with my camera, and visit the odd “out of the way” place to drink in the history, get some much needed exercise for the hip and marvel at the commitment and ingenuity of those who came before us. Just off the A66, a couple of miles east of Penrith, there’s a small “permitted use” car park which marks the beginning of the mile or so walk, along an overgrown and undulating track, to the hidden gem that is St. Ninians (also known as Ninekirks) church.

St. Ninians
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

The original Norman church, dating from around the 12th century, had fallen into disrepair by the mid 17th century when Lady Anne Clifford, who owned (at the time) Brougham Castle and its surrounding estates, took it upon herself to commission its rebuilding, the porch being added in the mid 19th century. Anne Clifford was also, by dint of her second marriage, known as Anne Pembroke and her initials (AP) and the date (1660) are recorded in plaster-work above the altar. There are some ruins in the grounds of the church, which may be older. There are no houses anywhere close now, and the church only remains openly accessible due to the work of The Church Conservation Trust. Worth a visit, if you like that sort of thing, it did serve as a reminder to revisit my mini-series of articles about women in history. Lady Anne is a very interesting character.

(Not Quite) Dystopian Cityscape
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

Once you get past the old forty-five year mark or so, deciding what to do when the wedding anniversary rolls around can be a bit of a challenge. I could, I suppose, have written a poem to mark the occasion, but also considered traditional to mark 46 years of marriage are “games”. Accordingly, and with not a little assistance from the eldest, I took my wife to Old Trafford, Manchester, to celebrate our 46th by watching Manchester Originals take on Northern Superchargers at a “game” of cricket. Apart from the weather (briefly) and the result of the mens game (painfully) it was a fine day out, the beer and cider were under £6 a pint and the antics of the Mancunian crowd and their building of paper cup “beer snakes” offered some light relief from the abject performance of Harry Brook and co., who I’d been hyping up all morning. The Hundred isn’t cricket for the purists, but it’s entertaining enough, especially when someone else pays for the tickets. The Manchester skyline, looking like something out of a low budget Bladerunner remake, reminds me just why I love living in my rural backwater hamlet.

Greenhouse Envy? Not Really!
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

Wandering around one of the local gardens a couple of weeks ago I came across this ramshackle greenhouse, complete with hand painted “Keep Out” sign. I post a picture of it, apropos of nothing more than acknowledging the work of Dave in keeping the “other” greenhouse from ending up in the same state. He’s in Gran Canaria this week, so probably won’t bother reading this (he’ll be too busy eating Chinese food and drinking “English” lager), but without him and his sterling efforts I wouldn’t have a starting point for my articles ( admit it, you’d miss them if they ceased) and I certainly wouldn’t have a real chance of a decent sized outdoor veg plot for next season. Bottoms up!

The Fruits Of My Labour (Again)
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

It seemed, at least for a month or so, that I’d never get a decent haul of ripe tomatoes and we’d end up having to make lots of jars of green tomato chutney, but, as is often the case, I was wrong and they’re coming on thick and fast now. I think I have nine (possibly ten) varieties growing (I’ll thin them back to maybe six next year). The Roma plum hasn’t been very successful and I’ll probably drop it in favour of the San Marzano (pictured). It’s a quite prolific, plump and pulpy tomato with few seeds. Not a salad tomato, but great for soup and sauces. A first time pick I’ll stick with. The Shirley are starting to come good too and the small pear shaped yellow tomatoes are extremely prolific, good in bruschetta for colour and texture contrast, and also good to cook with.

Lunch, Sorted
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

I may have mentioned this before, but once the tomatoes start to ripen I do make a bit of a pig of myself with them. One of my favourite ways is to cook them down in a little bit of olive oil, season them with a bit of sugar, a dash of Worcestershire, some salt and pepper and throw in a couple of ounces of chorizo piquante’ for the last couple of minutes. A bit of a glut of courgettes saw me fry a decent sized one off in the oil before adding the toms for this lunch time version, very tasty it was, too. It didn’t detract in any way from the quality of the eating and (or so I’m informed) tomatoes are “better” for you cooked than raw. It’s a no lose game, really.

Day Of The Triffid
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

The “climbing courgette” has taken on something of a life of its own in recent weeks, one of the few plants that’s really thrived during the ongoing damp spell and it now comes in at just short of fifteen feet long, not counting the bit under the ground. I didn’t plant a green courgette this year and it’s probably just as well, although not highly flavoured the flesh of the yellow one is quite dense and does its job, of acting as a natural thickener for the tomato soup, very well.

Soup On The Go (Lots Of It!)
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

If you fancy giving the soup a try here’s the recipe, it’s easy. If you aren’t growing your own some greengrocers (if you can find one) often sell well ripened tomatoes at a reduced price. Take a decent sized white onion, half a red onion, half a dozen chard stalks (or a couple of celery stalks) and a decent sized carrot (all chopped) and soften them in a good splash of olive oil over a medium heat for five or six minutes, throw in a diced large courgette (or two) and cook for another couple of minutes, then stir in a couple of ounces of tomato puree. Add five pounds, give or take, of skinned and de-seeded (you can sieve out the seeds once blended if you can’t be bothered to de-seed) tomatoes, stir to combine for a minute or two, add a couple of pints of vegetable stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until all the vegetables are soft. Blend once cooled and add water until you have the consistency you prefer (I usually add about another pint). This should yield around eight large bowls. I season with sugar, white pepper, salt and a good handful of fresh oregano and basil, but add the herbs and seasoning you like, chili goes well with it, but you don’t want to overpower the tomato taste of finished product. It also freezes very well.

Beyond The Pail
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2023

We’ve all heard of “The National Front” and “The British National Party”, two of more than several Nationalist/Socialist “right wing”  parties which briefly attracted small but dedicated followings in the 1960’s and 1970’s and also (and slightly more popular under the leadership of Nick Griffin) the second coming of the aforementioned “BNP” in the 1980’s (which still exists). If you wanted to label the movement and its adherents collectively, both then and now, I suppose the catch all “far right” is a fitting sobriquet. Travel forward in time to a period, probably starting around the beginning of 2016, when the term “far right” began to enter common usage as an insult, often prefacing “knuckle dragging northern monkey”, “thick as mince white van man”, “parochial Little Englander”, “inward looking uneducated racist pleb” and other such phrases, mostly aimed at those people who had the temerity to firstly vote to leave the EU and secondly the guts to stick by the decision they’d taken, to rid the UK of the corrupt, sclerotic, anti democratic bureaucratic behemoth that is the EU. In more recent years, we’ve seen the re-emergence of the “Klimate Krisis” and a “Pandemic” so deadly that the global infected death rate is (probably) in the region of 0.5%. Once, not that long ago, you were deemed “far right” if you had a shaved head and wandered around making Nazi salutes, looking for “Asians” to bash or hippies to verbally abuse, but that’s all changed now.

Do you question the “settled science” of “Man Made Global Warming” and the hypocrisy of its High Priests and Priestesses? If so you’re a “far right goon”. Do you question the need for (or the efficacy of) fake vaccines that don’t stop transmission of infections, but can cause severe side effects and are you puzzled by the rising excess death rates, Big Pharma profiteering and wealth transfer? You do? Then you guessed it, you’re “far right”. Do you, perchance, live in London and happen to be just a little concerned about continuing Mayoral overreach, the massive black hole in the TfL budget and the ULEZ expansion? If you do, then you aren’t a concerned tax paying citizen, exercising your right to question the motives of authoritarian politicians, you’re just another “far right conspiracy theorist”. Do you find yourself laughing at the absurdity of the BBC having a “misinformation reporter”? Of course you do, who doesn’t? Then welcome to the ever growing ranks of the “Ultra-far right”. Do you think doctors should be getting on with their jobs and that the NHS is a bloated, inefficient, financial black hole in need of far reaching reforms? You’re “far right” too.

It’s an absurdity, buy into the intertwined narrative threads surrounding 15 minute cities, collapsing gulf streams, self combusting wildfires, sexual congress between a bat and a Pangolin causing a global Pandemic, Net Zero hysteria, The EU as a benign, non expansionist trading bloc, Men who can become Women by saying it’s so, Ukraine as a the last bulwark of Western democracy, Donald Trump as the devil incarnate and Joe Biden as everyone’s favourite grandad and you’re an acceptable member of polite society. Question said narratives and you’re immediately branded as a “far right conspiracy theorist” complete with well scraped knuckles. If an inquiring mind, a healthy mistrust of  creeping authoritarianism in politics and contempt for the lying corrupt MSM makes me “far right”, then so be it. I’d suggest we need a “far right” political and social revolution and we need it sooner rather than later.

© Colin Cross 2023