Friday, June 08, 2012

Lord Bonkers' Diary: "Better than a chimbley!"

The government executes U-turns with such speed these days that Lord Bonkers' latest diary was out of date before it was published in Liberator.

Think of it, then, as a romance of the days when Cornwall was under the heel of the hated Pasty Tax.

"Better than a chimbley!"

Where better to be in early summer than Cornwall? I have come to spend a short holiday at Trescothick Bay and am pleased to report that the Jamaica Guest House fully justifies the praise it receives in the pages of Wainwright’s West Country Marginals. It has a dinner gong, which in my experience one only finds in the finest such establishments. The Well-Behaved Orphans are romping on the sand, investigating the rock pools and exploring the cliffs. “They’re better than a chimbley!” one little mite excitedly exclaims as he climbs.

Talking to the locals in the Jolly Tyler, however, I learn that the local economy is in a bad way. Cheap fudge imports from the Far East, the failure of the clotted cream crop and the decline of the tin mining heritage interpretation industry have hit the county hard. So it is no wonder that the people of Cornwall add to their modest incomes by making and selling pasties. Yet when I attempt to introduce this subject to the conversation, I am met with dark looks and mumbled entreaties to remain silent.

I soon discern how the land lies and tap my nose in what I like to think is a knowing manner. Later, as if by chance, I introduce the subject of Leicestershire’s occupation of Rutland and how we used to run pork pies to avoid the excise duty.

As I am making my way back to the Jamaica Guest House, a local accosts me with a dreadful leer.

“Does ee want to help the pastymen?” he asks – I flatter myself I render the local dialect accurately. “Then look ee for a remote cove.”

I resolve to spend the next day looking for that cove.

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