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Cyril Allday and the Storm

It was before 6am and still dark when I was awoken by the faint, persistent ringing of the phone downstairs. I dragged myself out of bed and padded the full length of the house down to the kitchen.

‘Hello’ I croaked.

‘I say! My water’s gorne orff!’

‘It’s Mr Allday, isn’t it?’

‘Yes. Of course it is. What are you going to do about it? I can’t have my baarth.’

We had only moved to the farm a few weeks earlier and I knew that the Alldays, who lived across three fields, about a quarter of a mile away, drew their household supply from our water tank, but I knew nothing about the way the arrangement worked.

Cyril Allday was an 84 year old retired farmer from Gloucestershire. But not just any old farmer. Between the wars he had established the best herd of Dairy Shorthorns in England, as he was happy to tell anyone he thought interested. He was the son of a bank manager from the Midlands, who had fought in the trenches and been used to commanding a large staff and getting his own way. He loved fell walking, was an accomplished amateur photographer and lived in retirement with his late-married younger wife and unmarried sister in a delightful house across the fields, called Turnerhow. It was formerly Tannerhow, just along the road from where the medieval Brackenthwaite corn mill had once straddled the Liza Beck. The house had been gentrified in the late eighteenth century and all traces of its workaday origin covered up. Both the house and gardens were entirely surrounded by my fields and were reached by a narrow track that ran between drystone walls.

Our water supply came from a pipe in the Liza Beck into a stone cistern sunk into the ground and covered with huge slabs. It had originally been fed from a low sluice built at an angle across the little beck, but it had been washed away long ago and replaced with a makeshift collecting vessel in the form of an aluminium box dug into the gravelly bed and encased in copper gauze that acted as a filter.

That part of the Lake District (indeed all the Lake District) gets more rain that almost anywhere else in Britain and it often falls over a short time. As it drains a large area of the high fells, the Liza is subject to violent flooding. After a deluge on the fell tops the water runs off quickly, transforming it in an hour or two from a little beck chattering over shallow gravel beds and meandering around boulders, into a roaring dun-coloured torrent tearing at its banks and tumbling stones and gravel down to its confluence with the Cocker.

On one tremendous August day in 1760 that was still remembered two centuries later by the few people whose families had lived in the valley for ages, an intense rainstorm caused a waterspout to sweep down Gascale Ghyll, between Whiteside and Grasmoor, which set off a landslide on the front of Grasmoor and sent a wall of water down the Liza that washed all before it. It is likely that the corn mill was destroyed in this torrent and never rebuilt, probably being redundant by this time anyway. But the main effect of the cataract was to deposit a bed of silt and gravel, many feet deep, across all the flat fields adjoining the beck. When the sun came out after the rain the surface of the fields was said to look like a cross between a pavement and a cobbled street. Crops were destroyed and the pasture fields covered with so much gravel that it would have been impossible to cart it all away. So the farmers left the silt and small stones spread out and only took away the bigger stones to break up to repair the roads. Over the following summers the gravel grew over with herbage and the flat land gradually regained a covering of soil. But in a dry summer the grass often turned brown over the gravel beds where its roots could not penetrate to the water in the subsoil.

‘What do you expect me to do?’ I asked him.

‘Find out what’s wrong. And get our water back on so we can at least boil a kettle! It’s no good at all! It’s most unsatisfactory. It never happened when George and Willie were here,’ he shouted.

Bearing in mind that it was not yet daylight, blowing a gale and, when I put my head outside the kitchen door, lashing with rain, I was not too happy to trudge across three steep fields to find out what was wrong with the water tank. But I didn’t know what was expected of me. For all I knew, it had been an incident of the Mackereth brothers’ previous tenancy that they were to ensure the Alldays had water.

‘Right. I’ll go and have a look.’

He clicked the phone down without replying. Rude old sod, I thought.

I went back upstairs, where my wife was still sleeping, unaware of the tempest raging outside, or the dressing-down I had just received from our neighbour. The ancient stone walls of the house were so thick that with the little windows closed, a terrorist bomb (had there been such things in those days) could have exploded in the yard and we would probably not have heard it. In fact, we were so oblivious to one memorable storm that raged while we were asleep, that a huge limb broke off the ancient yew tree that overhung the back of the house and crashed through the roof. We woke up to a jagged branch sticking through the ceiling into our bedroom, directly above the bed, showering us with the debris of three centuries’ of broken lath and plaster.

I slipped into yesterday’s clothes, tiptoed downstairs to the back kitchen and struggled into my waterproofs. Grabbing my most powerful torch from its hook by the back door, I ventured across the yard, yanked open the workshop door, took a spade and set off into the howling wind driving the stinging rain. The black leafless branches of the massive sycamores that sheltered the farm thrashed and cracked above me in a wind that snatched at my breath. Dark shapes flitted amongst the trees. I could hear nothing but the fury of the gale and the rain slashing against the walls of the house, and I began to believe I was being followed by malevolent forces, keeping their distance, and waiting for an opportunity to attack. The faster I went, the harder they chased me and the more terrified I became. I pressed on, bent into the howling wind, daring to glance from time to time over my shoulder and occasionally wheeling round whenever I imagined their breathing came too close. I was damned if I was going to let them play grandmother’s footsteps with me, so I forced myself to slow down. Running only encouraged them to come on faster and they were certain to be able to outrun me.

Just stand out in the open, I reasoned, where they have nowhere to hide, and face them down. So I stopped in the middle of the little steep croft behind the house and shone my torch wildly around, peering into the wet darkness, back down the slope where I had come from. Whenever a particularly savage buffet shook my resolve, I spun round to confront the demons pursuing me. It was hard to stand upright against the wind and I could see nothing in the lashing rain but the black branches threshing wildly in a storm that had become so violent I was half-surprised the drystone walls could stand against it.

Reaching the little wicket gate in the wall from where the path led down to the road beside the beck, I passed into the arcade of branches from the hedgerow trees that overarched the road. The wet black surface was strewn with sticks culled by the cleansing storm.

Before I got near, I could hear the roar of the water above the violence of the gale, and as I got closer my torch beam illuminated the violent gravy-coloured cataract rearing and tumbling down its bed. I dared not approach too close for fear of slipping into the broiling waters and being carried away. This was a beck that I could normally skip across dry-shod from stone to stone. I pointed my torch beam at the place where the water intake box ought to have been, but the torrent scouring the bed of the beck and pouring across the fields, was so violent that I could only conclude the intake box had been washed downstream. I went to the cistern and shone the beam through a little crack in the great slabs covering it. It was almost empty. The water just came up to the middle of the outlet pipe in the bottom and the little that remained was a placid oasis unruffled by the tumult of the hundreds of thousands of gallons of flood-water crashing down the beck twenty yards away.

There was nothing I could do. Dawn had started to seep into the valley, back-lighting the tracery of black branches against the brightening sky. I hurried back to the house across the empty fields, regretting the frisson of terror that was now evanescing in the growing daylight and feeling a bit stupid for being so terrified. I flung open the back-kitchen door and slammed it shut against the storm, the quietness was like plunging underwater. The phone was ringing in the kitchen and with water dripping from my coat and trousers, I hurried to answer it.

‘Well? Have you got it back on?’

‘No, I’m afraid not. The beck’s in tremendous spate. I can’t get near it.’

‘Have you tried?’

‘Look, the water’s five feet deep and roaring down its bed. I couldn’t stand up in it even if I tried. We (I wanted to say you, but didn’t quite dare) will just have to wait until it subsides.’

He put the phone down with a ‘humph’.

It had stopped raining by the time I was eating breakfast and spotted through the kitchen window the determined figure of Cyril Allday struggling along the lane towards the house, relying painfully on a stout walking stick. In his old age he had become victim to arthritis which had deformed his hands and feet and many of his other joints. It was painful to watch him struggling along, walking over on his insteps, with twisted ankles and misshapen legs, but he was damned if he was going to let it get the better of him. Bad-tempered old sod that he was, I felt sorry for him. The pain can’t have helped him control his temper, although that was not the whole cause of his irascibility. In fact it was more likely the pain was the result of it.

Every step of his beloved fell-walking had become exquisite torture so that by this time, he could no longer climb the fells and photograph the wild places he loved. He made his final ascent of the 2,900 feet of Grasmoor (which was almost at his back door) on his 80th birthday on a spectacular October day. The photographs he took were his last and some of his best. From the summit, looking out west across the Irish Sea on a clear day, in a certain condition of light, it is possible to make out the white houses on the coast of the Isle of Man; while far off to the north west, across the Solway Firth, the coastline of the Mull of Galloway stretches out to the horizon and merges with the sea. Cyril’s photographs captured all this in the fading light of an autumn afternoon. They turned out to be his swan song and a requiem for the Lake District and the natural world he loved.

His affliction put me in mind of Beethoven’s deafness and Milton’s blindness, ‘the one talent which is death to hide, lodg’d with [him] useless …’ forced to the realisation that those ‘who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best …They also serve who only stand and wait.’ Cyril Allday bore with great fortitude the far from mild yoke that prevented him from doing what he loved and what he had retired among the fells to do. It was even more poignant that it was not in his nature to ‘only stand and wait’.

I went out to meet him as he hobbled into the yard. He was brusque.

‘This is no good at all. We haven’t even enough water to boil a kettle. You’re going to have to sort it out.’

‘I’m really sorry, but there’s nothing I can do while the beck’s in spate. The intake box has been washed out.’

‘What box?’

He had no idea what I was talking about because he readily admitted that he had never actually been to the water intake box, nor had he the slightest idea how the water system worked. He had relied for nearly twenty years on George and Willie Mackereth, my predecessors, keeping it clean and the water flowing, despite his household being entitled to draw as much water as it needed from the tank.

‘The aluminium box covered in copper mesh that sits (or probably sat) in the bed of the beck and which collects the water that flows into the tank. I thought you would have known how the system worked. I had supposed you would have shared the maintenance with the Mackereths.’

He knew what I was getting at, because he was lost for words for a few moments, until he recovered himself, and said, ‘You cheeky young bugger!’

I feared I’d gone too far and didn’t know what to say to row back from my apparent insubordination. We stood looking at one another. I noticed his glasses were spattered with rainwater and I remember thinking that I would have wiped the lenses clean because I would have found it annoying to see things opaquely through raindrops. It was one of those things that old people seemed to stop noticing. Despite his irascible rudeness and self-absorption, I felt a pang of tenderness towards this old man whose body no longer obeyed his formidable will.

It would have taken more effort than he was capable of to climb down the river bank, dig the box back into the gravel bed of the stream in freezing water and re-lay the pipe. He was no doubt feeling vulnerable, afraid that his house would run out of water and that he would be unable to do anything about it. His wife and elderly sister depended on him, the man of the house who had once been capable of tackling anything. Although he was losing his physical strength, his pride would not let him ask for help, although it would let him force someone else to do what he no longer could. I promised to get his water back on as soon as the flood abated and in the meanwhile I offered to carry some water in jerry cans to keep them going.

In the afternoon, when I went over to see if the water had receded enough to get the water flowing into the tank, I encountered him, picking his way along the bank and surveying the scene.

‘I see what you mean,’ he shouted above the roar of the still swollen beck, ‘I thought I would come along and see what I could do, but it’s impossible!’

When I took the jerry cans of water to his house his wife, Jean confided that he had been secretly a little impressed I was prepared to stand up to him and he saw in me a little of the stubborn young man he had once been. I told her I thought he was being too generous – after all it was me who found myself a day later, my arm up to the shoulder in freezing water, digging a hole in the bed of the beck to re-site the intake box and get the water back on.

Sometime later the Alldays invited us round one evening for sherry and a slideshow of Cyril’s photos, and very good they were too. The next morning Jean rang to say that Cyril had died in his sleep. I wondered if the evening had been too much for him, but she was characteristically matter of fact, ‘he was old and ready to go. He could no longer do what he loved doing, walking the fells with his dogs, gardening and taking photos.’ She told me he wanted me to have his Home Guard issue .22 Browning sniper rifle that he used to shoot rooks from his bedroom window.

One of his more irascible incidents gives a flavour of his character. I was driving a large woolly mass of sheep which filled the road between the stone walls, when Cyril came up behind in his Austin Allegro and impatiently pip pipped his horn. I walked back level with the driver’s window and explained that I wasn’t going far, there was no way he could get through and asked him just to hang back for a few minutes. He replied he was in a ‘tearing hurry’ and besides he knew how to push through a flock of sheep. As he drove into them some of the frightened sheep broke back and my dog Tess doubled back in front of his car to stop them escaping. Cyril couldn’t see what was happening, so he kept going and ran over Tess, who was rolled under the middle of his car and came out standing on her feet behind. I shouted, ‘Hey, you’ve just run over my dog!’

He must have seen her in the rear-view mirror standing in the road apparently unharmed, but a little dazed, because he shouted, ‘No harm done!’ waved an arm out of the driver’s window and kept going until he had pushed through the flock and sped off down the road.  

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Canada’s Repressive State

We ought not to be surprised at Canada’s treatment of the truckers and those who oppose vaccine mandates. Canada has form for the kind of repressive measures we’ve seen recently that would once have been the preserve of a totalitarian state.

For over 25 years, the Our Farm Our Food group have been campaigning for the freedom of people to eat what they want. Since 1994, a co-operative of about 150 families, has owned a farm in Ontario from which Michael Schmidt, an outspoken advocate of unpasteurised milk waged a campaign to be allowed to sell to the public the milk the farm produced. It is unlawful in Canada to sell any dairy produce that has not been pasteurised.

Schmidt and the co-operative tried to get round this by using the fiction of ‘cow-sharing’ agreements. A person could buy a share in a cow, have it looked after by the farmer, who milked it for the owners who then consumed the milk from their own cow. This arrangement had been accepted in various US states as lawful and the rather naïve Schmidt believed it would work in Canada. He had underestimated the repressive instincts of the Canadian state which turned its full force against Schmidt as the figurehead of this defiance of the Canadian ‘health’ regulations.

In 2010 he was acquitted by a magistrate of 19 charges of distributing unpasteurised milk. But the Canadian authorities did not accept the magistrate’s decision and instructed the prosecution to appeal to the Ontario Court of Justice. The higher court found him guilty of thirteen charges of breaching the ban on selling and distributing raw milk, fined him $9,150, put him on probation for a year and issued a perpetual injunction preventing him from distributing raw milk in the state. The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal.

He embarked on a five-week hunger strike in 2011 to protest against the injustice of his treatment. In 2013 he was found to be in contempt of court for breaching the injunction and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment suspended for a year. Again an appeal was dismissed.

Schmidt refused to keep his head down, making it quite clear that he believed people ought to be free to eat and drink what they want, particularly if it is good for them. The authorities raided his farm numerous times, seized computers and business records and destroyed milking equipment. The health enforcement agencies even installed secret CCTV cameras in trees around the farm and bugged Schmidt’s house.

 One particularly oppressive raid and stand-off in October 2015 resulted in a trial of four of the owners of the farm. The police put on a great show of force with four heavily-armed police officers in court during the ten-day trial and three more stationed outside. Eventually, after various adjournments over nearly two years, the court found Schmidt guilty of obstructing a ‘peace’ [sic] officer and sentenced him to 60 days which he was allowed to serve at weekends. This was later reduced to a month’s house arrest.

The police did their best to blacken the defendants’ reputations by wrongly claiming (deliberately, the defendants said) they were members of the Freemen of the Land, a libertarian organisation classed as ‘extremist’ by the Canadian state. The Freemen are treated as a serious threat to the state’s increasingly repressive totalitarian grip, probably because in their hearts lives the same yearning for liberty that originally attracted their forebears to the New World. Smearing them in this way caused a great deal of trouble for them and their families. Their names were added to a national database of people, such as jihadists, who pose a violent threat to the state. All the state agencies and enforcers were alerted to their dangerous proclivities, which affected their lives in a host of damaging ways. The authorities were determined to make an example of them.

The onslaught against unpasteurised milk producers has not abated. On October 27 2021 Schmidt’s farm, along with two others, were subjected to a great show of force in pre-dawn raids by armed police. Although Schmidt’s wife bravely refused entry to the police who wanted to search the house and seize computers and records, they broke into the locked dairy barn anyway and seized some dairy products and other things. So far no charges have been brought.

Even though there is a strong demand for unpasteurised milk in Canada and considerable support for Schmidt, the state will go to almost any lengths to prevent its distribution, even if it has been tested for pathogens and proved to be safe. The embargo is necessary, say the authorities, to ‘maintain a strong food safety system’. Unpasteurised milk ‘may contain harmful bacteria and cause serious health conditions’. The state is determined to treat untreated milk as if it were poisonous. Anybody producing it risks more oppressive treatment and heavier penalties than if they were busted for drugs. Just as they have done with the truckers, the government threatened to take the farmers’ children into care if their parents gave them unpasteurised milk to drink.

Until Trudeau’s state set about destroying the lives of the ‘extremist’ truckers one might have been forgiven for believing Canada to be a less violent, more benign version of its southern neighbour. But in its government’s response to events of the last two years it has bitten with the teeth of repression that it has been sharpening for a long time. Just like Australia and New Zealand, the Canadian state’s inclination to force conformity on its people reveals the dark side of the Anglophone countries’ obedience to the rule of law.

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Letter to Right Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP about Julian Assange’s extradition

I am writing to express my extreme disquiet at the decision of the court to allow Julian Assange to be extradited to the US.

I would like you to pass this letter to the Home Secretary to ask her to overrule the court and prevent his extradition.

I have no axe to grind for Julian Assange. My objection to his treatment is entirely based on principle and has nothing to do with him personally.

This is a wholly political case which should have been rejected on that ground alone as contrary to Article 4 (1) of the 2003 Anglo-US Extradition Treaty.

But it goes much further than that. The Treaty, agreed during the Blair era is unfair, weak and almost wholly one-sided. It allows the US to demand the extradition of UK citizens and others for offences committed against US law even if the alleged offence was committed in Britain by a person living in the UK. In effect it allows the US authorities to demand that we hand over anyone they want to punish, whether or not the alleged offence is unlawful in Britain.

This is a violation of our sovereignty and in Assange’s case amounts to a threat to the freedom of the press. It is unimaginable that the US would hand over to the British state one of their own citizens accused of publishing leaked documents. But any British journalist who embarrasses the US government by exposing any of the truth that the US state hides from its people faces the same fate. It must be remembered that he has committed no crime according to our law. The real reason the US government wants Assange’s extradition is to extract revenge for his having embarrassed the state and shown its government to have lied to the people and to Congress.

Assange revealed many things the US state did which were in themselves illegal and, frankly, wicked: injustice, brutality, secret imprisonment, torture and ‘extraordinary rendition’.

Publishing large numbers of confidential US government files is not illegal under US law. He was acting as a journalist when he published the documents he had received. Had he been a US citizen he would be immune to prosecution because of the First Amendment to the US Constitution which protects the freedom of the press.

If extradited, Julian Assange will be tried in the US and,if convicted (which looks almost certain) faces a US style prison sentence, which could last the rest of his life It is repugnant to any fair-minded person’s sense of justice that Julian Assange should face the rest of his life in the US prison system, first as an unconvicted person and then almost certainly as a convicted criminal. He is neither a terrorist nor a spy nor a murderer. None of his actions has harmed anyone. That he should face the prospect of spending the rest of his life in an American prison with terrorists, murderers and other violent criminals amounts to unimaginable cruelty and cries out for clemency.

I beg the Home Secretary to exercise her power to prevent this injustice and overrule the decision of the court.

22 April 2022

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Green & Peasant Land

French Vaccine Resisters

It has been reported this week that a large proportion of French people will refuse to be vaccinated with the Covid vaccine. The French are right to be suspicious. France is the land of Bechamp, the great reproach to Pasteur, whose work has been ignored (even suppressed) by the western world for over a century, but it is truer to reality than anything Pasteur said.

Essentially – and I apologise if this simplification does too much violence to their respective theories – Bechamp held that a living organism, in good health, was capable of defending itself against assaults of illness. It was only when the health of the organism was compromised that disease naturally attacked it. That our bodies are teeming with bacteria good and bad, and the purpose of medicine is to get the body back into balance so it can repel disease and return to health.

Pasteur, on the other hand, held that ‘germs’, ie bacteria and viruses range around ready to attack and unless they are destroyed they will be dangerous to everybody irrespective of their health and habits.

This superficial ‘germ theory’ animates the western scientific establishment and ‘big pharma’. It has driven the last hundred years of vaccination and emphasis on ‘science’ being needed to protect us from disease. It has culminated in this currrent COVID hysteria.

Any mention of Bechamp now brings down a torrent of vitriol. He was subjected to all manner of attacks in his lifetime by Pasteur’s followers, many of whom stood to profit from Pasteur’s theories. A good many of Pasteur’s theories were plagiarised from the more subtle research of Bechamp and passed as truth, when at best they were partial and at worst downright false.

If Bechamp’s insight into the complexity and self-sustaining nature of life were to be accepted by big pharma and the medical establishment, they would be left high and dry. That’s why they are so fierce in their denunciation of Bechamp and to this day, anybody who expresses even mild support for his theories.

But when people talk of ‘herd immunity’ and the efficacy of Vitamin C or D, or zinc, or fresh air and exercise, or washing your hands, they are relying, whether they know it or not, on the natural processes that Bechamp identified as sustaining life.

A quick Google search will show the bitter insults that Bechamp attracts: he is a ‘crank’, in bed with ‘anti-vaxxers’, and ‘those who believe that food is medicine’, practitioners of ‘alternative medicine’, ‘climate change deniers’ and ‘Covidiots’.

This begs the question why modern ‘scientists’ are so keen to rubbish and ‘cancel’ Bechamp?

Might it be that he’s on to something that threatens them? And might it be that if we took notice of his advice most of the scientific establishment and their big-business accolytes would not only look foolish, but would find themselves in need of alternative employment?

I ask one simple question of the followers of Pasteur’s germ theory. If Bechamp is wrong, as these ‘expert scientists’ claim, how is that most people not only survive, but are mostly not affected by the myriad bacteria and viruses that assail us daily?

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Antoine Béchamp -v- Louis Pasteur

Is the West’s almost complete acceptance of Pasteur’s ‘germ theory’ damaging our economy and our health and driving us mad?

Throughout all the hysteria over corona virus, hardly any scientific voice has been raised to question the Pasteurian theory of disease that has been the dominant narrative in the West for the last hundred and fifty years. Not only is there astonishing unanimity among the ‘experts’ over ‘the science’, but any attempt to question it is either suppressed or ridiculed. All those advising various governments only have one point of reference – Louis Pasteur.

Pasteur’s ‘germ’ theory is that microorganisms – pathogens – are liable to attack anybody at any time irrespective of whether or not the individual is in good health and takes care of himself. Pasteur discounted this and said that to protect us from harmful organisms they must be destroyed or we must be kept away from them.

But there is another way of looking at it which makes a good deal of sense and seems to accord with the reality of living. Throughout the nineteenth century Pasteur’s great rival was Antoine Béchamp. Béchamp contended that microorganisms, Pasteur’s ‘germs’, are not so much the cause of illness and disease as its result. Béchamp held that what he called ‘microzymas’ of the body, which he found to be the ultimate units of life, present throughout the cells of the body, both maintain its life (metabolic) and aid in its disintegration (catabolic) if it is injured or dies. These microorganisms are capable of changing themselves into different kinds of pathogens when their normal functions and conditions of life are disturbed. This happens in disease and in the decay that follows death.

Béchamp accepted that external microorganisms may contribute to illness and decomposition, but that was only half the story. The destructive and morbid influence of these is in addition to that already faced by an organism’s internal microorganisms which have the power to initiate decay or maintain health. A healthy body is protected against infection and illness unless something goes wrong with it to cause it to succumb. This is the crucial distinction from germ theory. If it were otherwise we would have no protection against the myriad pathogens and microorganisms that assail us throughout our lives. Béchamp showed that bacteria also develop internally in an organism without any external influence by using the example of a bruised apple whose internal cells started to rot without its skin being broken.

This ‘holistic’ view lays the responsibility for his own health squarely upon the individual, who must take measures to protect himself from illness. This is in stark contrast to the prevailing modern approach in the West that makes a person a victim to be saved by medical science and drugs. It is one of the reasons why the medical profession is largely ignorant of nutrition and there is almost no concern in Britain and the US over the quality of food served in hospitals. Germ theory ignores or denies the benefit to the health of the patient from proper cooking and eating well.

Pasteur’s theory suggests that the body is simply a collection of inert chemicals, and therefore after death there ought to be nothing living in it. When it was pointed out to him that there was life in dead organisms, he was forced to the erroneous conclusion that it resulted from pathogenic invasion from without, even when the organism was isolated from any source of contact. Either he understood, but would not admit, or he simply could not fathom, that microorganisms are inherent in all life on the planet – all of which are composed of and have developed from living microzymas.

The people of the broadly Protestant countries in the West seem to be those most attracted by Pasteur’s germ theory. The medical establishment in Britain and North America, in particular, talks about ‘waging war’ on viruses and diseases, ‘battling’ against illness and so on. And this attitude has been eagerly exploited by the pharmaceutical industry to make vast profits from medicalising the population by frightening them that its products are necessary to keep them free of illness. It is hard to understand why a theory that has delivered so many people into the hands of the medical profession and kept them there, should have gained such widespread acceptance.

Over the decades the Pasteurian approach has not gone unchallenged. There has always been an undercurrent of alternative health treatment that promoted Béchamp’s ideas even if its practitioners didn’t quite know where they came from. Osteopaths, chiropractors, homeopaths, herbalists and so on, whose aim is to make the body healthy to protect itself from disease, have made great strides to shake off the criticism of conventional doctors that their treatment is little more than witchcraft. People are beginning to grasp that what we eat affects our health and our immune system. The trouble is that big food manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industry are aware of this and have started to cater to the mood but not to the need behind it.

At the bottom of all this lies Pasteur’s superficial research which, tragically, was preferred over Béchamp’s profound, often mystical and subtle understanding of the workings of life and pathology. Even now, those who dare to question the prevailing narrative based on Pasteur’s germ theory are attacked as being ‘germ theory denialists’ even though most of Pasteur’s theories were plagiarized from Béchamp’s early research work. The irony is that towards the end of his life, Pasteur himself doubted the germ theory and is supposed to have declared on his deathbed that Béchamp was right all along: ‘The terrain is everything.’

It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that Pasteur’s influence on Western scientists and our clueless politicians has turned out to be such a disaster for our economy and our society.

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Green & Peasant Land

Is Glyphosate safe?

Is Glyphosate safe?

Last November, Thailand resolved to ban glyphosate because its government was not convinced that the weedkiller is safe. Certain countries are certain it’s a carcinogen and pollutant, others are not too sure, while USDA (the US Department of Agriculture) insists it’s completely harmless. But USDA can hardly be classed as disinterested because the herbicide is a fantastic money-spinner for its manufacturer, the US chemical giant Monsanto, owned by Bayer, and brings in billions of dollars a year to the US economy. It is the most widely used weedkiller and crop desiccant in the world, sold under a number of proprietary names – Roundup in Britain – and is routinely sprayed on genetically modified crops to kill every green thing in the field except the crop. Its use eliminates the need to control weeds by any other means, such as hoeing or rotational cropping. Almost all the crops of soy beans in both north and south America are sprayed with glyphosate first to kill weeds and then to desiccate the stems and leaves to make it easier to harvest the beans.

But Bayer was not about to allow the Thai public health authorities to kill off one of their highly lucrative markets. By doing nothing they would be tacitly admitting there might be some danger to health. The US Under-Secretary in USDA, under pressure himself from Bayer, applied heavy pressure – some would say blackmail – to the Thais to reverse their proposed ban, even though the country’s health authorities advised a ban was necessary to protect the public. The Americans made it clear that a ban would ‘severely impact’ imports into Thailand of American soybeans, wheat and other agricultural products. In other words, if Thailand banned glyphosate it would be unable to import American crops which are laced with residues of glyphosate.

There is growing concern around the world that glyphosate is a dangerous chemical whose residues are being found in almost every part of the globe due to its routine use on staple crops that make up a large part of the diet of every person in the world. There is hardly any soya, wheat, palm oil, maize or sugar cane, grown in westernised nations that has not been sprayed with glyphosate. It is noteworthy that Russia has banned its use, not just for political reasons. Bayer is fighting hard against growing evidence that the product is far from ‘completely safe for human consumption’. There are tens of thousands of lawsuits pending against the company claiming that glyphosate causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. And if it should be shown to be a harmful substance, America has too much invested in this weedkiller and the GM seed Monsanto has patented to be sown in combination with it, for the financial, agricultural and public health repercussions to be anything other than catastrophic for the US economy and society.

That USDA is prepared to act as Bayer’s enforcer in suppressing other countries’ opposition to glyphosate hardly inspires confidence in its integrity or the honesty of its assertion that it is safe. But American agriculture is so far down the road of dependence on glyphosate and GM seed that it would be ruined by a ban.

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Green & Peasant Land

Clapping for the NHS

We’ve seen some strange things over the last few months. One of the oddest was the weekly nationwide clapping and banging of pots and pans on doorsteps during the early part of the ‘lockdown’. It resembled nothing more than the rituals that took place in pagan times to chase away evil spirits from a village, to protect them against some epidemic, or to expel demons from the fields before the sowing of crops or before harvest. On a certain day, the whole community was expected to turn out to make as much noise as possible, shouting, blowing horns, ringing bells, clattering pots and pans and parading through the streets to make what the Irish call a hullabaloo. This was a common ritual in many societies across the world. The noise was believed to frighten off the evil spirits and protect the community.

It struck me that the banging and clapping was a remarkable revival of this practice, taking us right back to pagan times. The nation had been terrified by the government into believing that hundreds of thousands of people were going to die from an evil spirit, a plague the like of which we hadn’t seen since the Spanish flu a century earlier. Hundreds of thousands were destined to die. Then someone suggested we come out to ‘clap for the NHS’ which is the nearest thing we have to a deity in modern Britain. The clapping was then accompanied by banging pots and pans, exactly the thing our pagan ancestors did to chase away demons that might do them harm. People came out in their droves all across the country and those failing to appear on their doorstep in solidarity with their neighbours were subject to public disapproval, just as they were in pagan times.

It was a remarkable demonstration of a pagan practice we might have thought we had grown out of, but that lives on, just below the surface of our modern world, ever ready to resurge.

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Green & Peasant Land

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