Richard Warren

"Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

National Mistrust

National Mistrust


Part One: Freedom from Weeds


Consider the Great House: the hall itself, the gardens, tea shop, toilets, lawn, lake, drive, deer sanctuary, parkland, and beyond them all the crafted illusion of distant wilderness. A well ordered estate is the model of a happy Nation. Also, therefore, a model of a happy Hereafter: figures strolling over sunlit grass, plenty of company but at appropriate distances, the occasional chat with your great grandmother, or perhaps with the Duke of Wellington, and so on pleasantly and timelessly …

And each Small House should be at heart a Great House. Every home must become again a stately home, a static home, a standing stone, a little fortress, an Englishman’s castle. (An Englishwoman’s too of course, ha ha.) To achieve this, a degree of violence will be inevitable.

But first, we must hit the tea shop (joke).

I recommend the Wollerton Platter.
No shepherd was harmed in the making of this pie!
Pomegranate pressé. Finger sandwiches, served with salad, coleslaw and chunky chips.
Please choose.
The sponges are Victoria, Lemon Drizzle or Coffee and Walnut.
Yes, I’m having the Coffee and Walnut. What about you?

Under the tight skin, weathered like leather, scarred like orange peel, the jaw bone rises and falls with the persistence of a piston.

Excellent scone. Very good, very good. Take your meal with your rifle by your side. We eat to survive.

If any member of your platoon suffers from a food allergy, please inform a member of staff. Thank you.

Note: some tulips are more pointy than others. Learn to tell the difference. It might save your life.

I have to report a brief panic when a dense cloud of bees
swarmed over the roof of the tea room.
Thankfully, they were not interested
in what was left of my fruit salad.
Otherwise, all remains calm in this sector.

Note: topiary is really not essential. Suspend all classes.

Battalion Orders

Following our exit from the European Union
or in the event of a hung parliament,
early mobilisation is to be expected.
In a retreat it may be necessary to leave behind
the very elderly and infirm.
(So be ready for some tough decisions!)

Tuesday’s patrol to be mounted by the Rotary,
and pickets to be posted by Albric Festival Lodge 9576.
Sharpshooters should be posted along the edge of the Nature Reserve
commanding the approach to the A41.
Strategic roundabouts must be defended at all costs,
even at the expense of established shrubbery.
Likewise the Park and Ride.

PS: Birders take notice – all binoculars to be surrendered to the officers’ pool.

PPS: Trekking poles are an ornamental incumbrance, and will not be tolerated on the march. There will be no exceptions, and that is my final word on the matter.

Memo to all ranks: water features, either for physical or for psychological reasons, are likely to weaken morale. Avoid. A reminder too that hanging baskets serve no valid military purpose.

In response to the committee’s enquiry,
I suggest a Tilley hat or a decent cloth cap,
a light check shirt under an olive green jumper, beige chinos, sensible tan shoes,
quilted shooting jacket with a corduroy collar, that sort of thing,
quality light outdoor clothing. Versatile, allowing swift transition
between, say, edging the lawn and woodland skirmishing.
The Enemy, at best in cheap trainers and thin hoodies with counterfeit branding,
will be at a clear disadvantage.

Note: screens in Brunswick, willow, bamboo slat, bamboo cane. Each portable in its own green carrying case. Enhances the patio or balcony. Creates a quick and attractive feature. Combines shade with shelter from sniper fire.

Idea: employ garden statuary for beginners’ target practice. (But not metal – danger of ricochet.)

Query: can garden hose systems be adapted to serve as flame-throwers?

Query: is it possible to train robins?


North East Division Training Day at Harlow Carr, hosted by 3rd Royal Horticultural Battalion.
Refreshments by Harrogate Allotment Rifles.

1  Digging in: fortification of pavilions; camouflage of bird hides; defensive rockeries and terraces.

2  Introducing our three new armoured vehicles, “Prince George”, “Princess Charlotte” and “Prince Louis”. Photo opportunities.

3  Garrison self-sufficiency: eco-barracks; rotation of kitchen garden crops; efficient chickens; craft bakery for rations.

4  AOB


Draft of address to the Gardeners’ World Mobilisation Conference

Ladies and gentlemen: if our nationalism is to be anything, we simply must maintain a number of points of reference. Not too many, just sufficient, and, to be honest, the precise character of each point matters less than the solidity of its maintenance. In this respect we might welcome the creation of new traditions. But if we ought not to be too concerned over the exact make-up of our Britishness, we should be very much exercised that it should persist. If not, what is left? Little more than that unpleasant feeling of being coated in some sticky, Londony, media foam, as if one has been locked in a small room and forced to read every word of The Guardian for three days or required to listen to back to back episodes of In Therapy. Unconscionable, you will agree. There has to be an immensely greater richness to our national life! But of what should that consist?

A vital point of reference has to be our landscape. Soil, that’s the stuff to give the troops. Those of us prepared to rally in defence of our national culture must be ready to get our hands dirty. We must dig for Victory, and rake and mulch for it too. And not just dig, but dig in, if we are, quite literally, to regain touch with our earth. Every raised bed a machine gun post!

That very landscape slips by me now, as my train speeds and tilts alarmingly. Trackside, an overwhelming leafiness is visible. Linear geometries of trees, our old mates the trees, dot and define the borders to dual carriageways and the banks to bridges, all along the green and pleasant mini-realms that compose our national Soft Estate. Wider still lie uninhabited fields, our living  rooms, our lebensraum, floorspace for giants, for a race of giants, breathing space, space that breathes. I exhale and close my eyelids, and the welcome British sun through the train window warms and lights my closed eyes. What a privilege! What a relief!

On a household scale, the garden lawn, that miraculous externalisation of the indoor lounge carpet, provides a perfect “living space” in both senses, as a space for living and as a space itself composed of living plant matter. To each man, woman or couple their own small patch of green! And for those too feckless or disaffected to tend their lawn, there will, under the arrangements to come, be penalties.

As with our space, so with our time. Our precious life and times have entered a diminishing perspective. Like those oddly numbered posts at the edges of the rails, anniversaries and centenaries now rush past with increasing and bewildering frequency. Nowadays, everything previous to the birth of a teenager constitutes a single immense and equalised slab of Olden Tyme, made uniform, condensed and parodied into confusion, faded, discredited, and now unravelling, coming loose at the staples. Look out of the train window: many of these ubiquitous graffiti that texture the trackside rear walls will soon be officially vintage and listable. We have become a nation of accumulators and floggers-off of our own ephemera, buyers and sellers in an accelerating flux of antique roadshows. How can we keep pace? Why should we? We must call a halt!

What time is it?

Time to call a spade a spade!
Time to fix our Identity! (Whatever that may be.)
Time to establish Permanence!
Time to put a stop to Time!

What are we fighting for?

For the conservation of our Landscape!
For our continued right to National Wellness!
For Freedom from Weeds and from the Fear of Weeds!
For the preservation of our Heritage Seed!

Thank you.

*          *          *


Part Two: Rumour Corps

The Rumour Corps should be appreciated as an essential element of our national defence against impostors and incomers of all kinds. Hardly our fault that government, in so far as it survives, is slow to recognise this. But our time will come.

Start with simple observations. For instance, make a list of people who look like other people. (Not including twins, obviously.) Memo to self: start with that bald man in the supermarket last Tuesday. He reminds me of someone.

People with similar laughs – indicates common programming?

At the launderette, position yourself at the washer farthest from the door. That way you will be able to eavesdrop on the conversation in the back room where the girl does the ironing. I am surprised at the popularity of this launderette in today’s era, when all should have washers at home. Indicates a hidden purpose.

Likewise, those individuals in Costa positioned by the window with a laptop, using the free Wi-Fi – with whom do they communicate, and what are they instructed to observe?

She’s just leaving now. She’s going over the road to the doctor’s for an appointment. Message me in about an hour and a half. She should be back by then.

Who should watch these watchers? If we watch the watchers, we are watchers also. Then who should watch us? And who in turn should watch them watching us?

While I was sat by the front window, pretending to observe the progress of the tumble drier, the Age Concern minibus drove past three times in as many minutes. A signal?

A surprisingly large number of mobility scooters are parked empty for long periods on pavements here, often at unnatural angles. Where are their riders? Are some impostors? How do we test without causing needless and understandable offence? Definitely more folks about with walking sticks than five years ago. But then, anyone can pick up a walking stick.

Is it true that fragmented consciousness
is a condition of modern living? Or is it just
that the Enemy wants us to believe that?

At the Gorge, look out for adults with clipboards mingling with school Geography parties, taking notes on likely defensive positions.

Scent diffusers. Why are they suddenly in all our homes when we managed perfectly well without them before? Mood altering? Chemical warfare?

In the current situation, absences may be highly significant.
Therefore record in comprehensive detail each unexpected instance of nothing appearing.
We may need to conduct a thorough enquiry into everything
that hasn’t happened here, and why.

Countless patterns adjust themselves, re-combine, collapse into fragments of string. One among them represents the real conspiracy that threatens all our futures. We badly need criteria by which to identify it.

To be perfectly honest, errors of interpretation are impossible to eliminate. Join the dots. Fill in the gaps. This gesture. That half overheard word. A chalk mark on a wall. The shapes and frequencies of small clouds, perhaps. But the sequence is not a given. The dots are not numbered. The pattern we think we discern could well be our own projection. It is the responsibility of the observer to take this into account. There have been too many unproductive arrests recently because of it. However, our concern is not for the wrongfully arrested, but with the confusion introduced to an operation that still enjoys limited resources.

By the way, is chalk still readily available in shops? If not, how do those marks on walls originate?

Colouring books for adults – clearly suspect!

The introvert, who takes a walk because there is nothing else to do, who gazes at pavements and palings, faces and fingers, with absolute and measured indiscrimination – she is our best observer. But also our least best, for such a one is inclined to view everything through the lens of personal grief. By enrolling her, we take a necessary risk?

A code: old people who wear their trousers too short. One inch above the ankle = the coast is clear. Two inches above = imminent danger. And so on.

Another code: the flickering of a neon tube in a light fitting. Like Morse, but more subtle. Too rapid to decipher? So, record it on your phone, then slow it down and try to analyse the intervals.

All Machines Emptied Twice Daily. Any Person Seen Vandalizing will be Prosecuted. Mixed Arts and Crafts. Ray’s Cars Private Hire. Ring O’Bells Now Open. Official Debut Single Out Now. Whilst Every Endeavour is Made to Ensure the Equipment is Clean at All Times it is the Customer’s Responsibility to Check Washer and Drier Drums Before Use. No Smoking.

Mass of Washing → Mass Observation → Mass of Information → Critical Mass.

Walking figures stencilled in yellow on car park floors. Or that falling figure within a triangle on Caution Wet Floor signs. More semaphores! The mere six digits of the Murray semaphore provide 720 combinations. Four limbs and a head make five; would five digits be enough for a basic military vocabulary? Note carefully the angles and positionings of head, arms, legs and feet.

Is there anything that cannot become a code? Nothing. Because the Enemy is free to use absolutely anything that is to hand. The obvious is not so efficient, the less obvious therefore, by definition, more efficient. (Note: but that much is obvious, so surely the reverse must be the case?)

Damn it all. Make a note of everything, and let God sort it out.

Observer 1: I have recorded a mass of unsupported data that may well contain something significant.
Observer 2: Then let us compare notes.
Observer 1: But can I trust you?
Observer 2: And can I trust you?

A primary rule of the Rumour Corps must be that no personnel should talk about it to any non-personnel, but should employ another person to do so. That person must have an established reputation for consistent unreliability, so that everyone who is not in the Rumour Corps will come to hear of the Rumour Corps but none will believe that it exists. By this means, our security will be absolute.

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