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Friday, 21 February 2020

The turning of a page

I suppose there must have been other ages in our history in which we saw such rapid change, and many momentous changes that creep almost unnoticed until they are absorbed into our lives almost without fuss. But sometimes it's the little things that so forcefully strike one with a heavy blow. Oh, I'm not some Luddite railing against change - change is a necessary part of our social and national progression. But just sometimes what's gone aches like a lost limb.

Today it's the ban on coal and undried wood. I was, in the jargon, triggered. And suddenly I remembered one perfect evening many years ago, at my little flint rubble cottage in Needham Market one windy Autumn night. I'd made supper, which just needed reheating in the oven, and Jennie drove us over in her battered old Mini to a seventeenth century pub some three miles away. There we sat companionably by the huge double-room inglenook in which an entire Elm root crackled and glowed, sharing a packet of fags under the crooked black oak beams and nicotine cream plaster. We drank no more than about three pints each and drove back home for supper.

Jennie is no more, taken by cancer. Her car would no longer be allowed on the road - one simply doesn't see old cars like that any more. And now that pub fire, which has warmed whole generations of villagers, will be cold for ever more. Of course the pub was closed eight years ago, after the smoking ban, and because no one would risk driving after a pint. The pub was lit by low wattage incandescent lamps, which would have been replaced anyway by harsh plastic-white LED lighting, and the black tar coating on the inglenook would be condemned by the Health for its phenol content. 

It struck me in a moment that in a year or two, not one element of that simple evening would any longer be possible. That's change.

The fire at the Dunwich Ship - another great pub fire I have known


Michael said...

We use 'Wildfire', which is a manufactured nut from the coal dust etc from yards everywhere. I even consider it as a 'recycling exercise', as that sort of slack gets chucked all over the place, so it might as well be sold and used responsibly.

Wildfire also burns down to very little, but is more expensive, and has the benefit of burning all night very easily.

The ads in the freebie rags around here have numerous ads for barn-dry logs (you've commented on this before), but they don't give enough heat in a 16" fireplace, hence the coal.

I reckon this is a huge no-no, and will 'spark' all sorts of fury; the ecoloons will have to get lots more hind legs to stand up on and probably, it'll all die a death once the gretamob have gone back to their igloos.

Smoking Scot said...

You may not see many original mini's on the road - and certainly not left unattended. Folk will steal all they can, because they're big collectables - now fetching daft money.

Same with 2 CV, original Fiat 500 and even the Dyan. Their propensity to rust means few survived.

Dadad1 said...

'you don't see old cars like that any more' Oh yes you do; there's a very thriving and popular classic car and caravan scene throughout the UK, which I'm very happy to be part of.

Dadad1 said...

Is wildfire what I used to call coke ?

DiscoveredJoys said...

I keep telling my grown up children, now approaching middle-age, that it was a different world when 'I were a lad'. They are not yet old and so don't have enough perspective to appreciate this fact.

I tell them, in jest, that the world of my youth was in black and white. Not literally true of course but it conveys the difference.

Dave_G said...

All those things you (we) miss are all gone thanks to small groups of do-gooders that have interfered in the lives of the majority to push agendas sought by a minority that have all been engineered to create profit or taxes for those that don't necessarily deserve them.

It continues to this day.

Zero consideration for the individual - if we aren't tax-revenue raising robots for Government we are nothing but 'trouble' for those that seek to maximise their self-importance over the lives of millions (I make mention particularly of you green lunatics).

It can't just be me that feels pushed, squeezed and milked by all around and getting to the point whereby I say 'fuckitall' and rebel? What that rebellion may take form of is unknown and undecided but many others have 'rebelled' against unjust societal change in ways that have brought disaster and even shame - but a cornered rat will fight. It's in its nature.

Push, it seems, has come to shove.

Unknown said...

I thought ordinary traditional coal was banned decades ago, under the Clean Air Act ?

Don Cox

jim said...

No coal fires in the middle of the Yorkshire dales while Boris is busy buying votes ooop North? Ahh, but they buy from the coalman, so no problem.

As ever the devil is in the detail. The problem here is city dwellers who for fashion reasons like a posh wood burner but don't have a log shed. Bringing four ton of logs up in the lift is bad enough, stacking it against the Osborne & Little a bit messy. If you have 'wet wood', well you need a bit of coal to get it going.

So they buy logs and coal by the bag from the corner shop, for when a few come round to sniff a little powder. But 'kiln dried' has been on the bags for ages, who is to know the moisture level anyway? Are we really going to fund council inspectors armed with moisture meters? Will there be traceable calibration records for presentation to the magistrates?

Much woo for a little problem.

Raedwald said...

Don - Yes, in Clean Air Act areas, mostly cities, where only sealed wood burners meeting particulate emission standards (smoke burners) can also be used

The test under the clean air act for prosecution (as councils have no power of entry into homes) is the smoke-card test - a colour graduated smoke card is held up by the EHO against the plume of smoke from the house chimney and the colour match recorded. If it exceeds a given level of darkness, they can prosecute.

So not much good at night.

Raedwald said...

... and you can get your own cut-out-and-keep Ringelman Smoke Shade Chart at

(if smoke is darker than Shade 2 - potential offence)

Anonymous said...

And guess what? Most of the clientele of that pub probably went out on a Sunday to support the hunt, and privately mocked 'the only gay in the village'.

How things have changed.

Span Ows said...

This is a very bad sign and shows BoJo and the Red Tories are on the same wavelength as Blair, Cameron et al. it is all about control: we can't have those boisterous uppity country folk being a little bit independent can we. This is all looking rather nasty.

JPM said...

I don't think that it will make much actual difference.

People can buy kiln-dried or often stack and dry their own wood.

As said, apart from in ex-mining areas coal is generally banned anyway.

Pub fires will still burn.

Raedwald said...

Tsk. Hunts are Wednesday. No shootin' or huntin' on a Sunday - that's the day we enjoy lunch with our waspishly funny gay vicar.

Mr Ecks said...

It is "change" Radders --its fucking Marxist eco=freak tyranny.

If we swallow it FAR worse is to come. Remember the globo elite and Agenda 21 --1000 million techno-peasants and 2-300 million "elite".

Jack the dog said...

Ecks is right.

I'm disgusted by this proposal.

Anonymous said...

Wake me up when a real Conservative government is elected...


John Brown said...

Is the ban on coal and wet wood such a big deal ?

At least it is not a complete ban yet…

I thought that coal was banned long ago anyway and burning wet wood is not sensible as the resulting smoke causes tar and soot to build up in the chimney.

Far better to purchase a moisture test meter and to burn dry wood (have the government defined a maximum moisture content BTW?).

Also, to prevent the build-up of tar and soot it is better to run the fire hot and not to try to keep it running low (to keep the fire in overnight for instance).

BTW, I loved those bubble cars.

Anonymous said...


I can give you a little hope, next in UK try the Kings Arms Hotel/pub in Old Amersham. Thriving, cosy and excellent ales, WITH an open fire inglenook, with comfortable aged leather sofa.;geo=499482&detail=719613&aggregationId=101

Span Ows said...

Anon 00:19. yes a very nice place - in fact a few pubs up that High Street - and near to my old stamping ground. Trouble is...Underground station is only 20 minutes walk away, London bubble heaven.