Cornwall: P(r)aying for independence

‘With EU subsidies needed just to prop up existing services, an independent Cornwall couldn’t afford to afford to buy the chair that would allow it to take a seat at UN international conferences.’

Cornwall county map

A proud Celtic nation in mind if not body, Cornwall has its own flag, its own language and even its own specific brand of hens. Proud of their beautiful coastline and lush green fields, many Cornishmen would dearly love to throw off the shackles and declare independence from their oppressors. Sadly for them, burning down the second homes of mainland English invaders is not an option, as tourism represents the county’s only non-pastry based source of income.

Many locals are determined to move towards self-rule and decide for themselves how to distribute all available economic benefit – i.e. the beach cafe’s tips tin – amongst residents.  But despite many years of fundraising efforts directed towards whipping up a set of flags (every grown-up country needs a flag), the county remains unable to stretch to colour printing.

In a bid to diversify the economy into activities which actually make money, Cornwall has tried to attract surfers to the famous waves of the county’s northern coast. Together with the large groups of resident bored teenagers, Eden Project crusties and Parkinson’s sufferers, the move has meant that any financial gains from tapping into this market have since been squandered on a burgeoning weed habit.

Having bought up virtually all of the county’s assets, Cornwall’s surfers and second-home owners flock back to the Home Counties in the autumn. They leave behind a festival of seagulls, a tired ice-cream man, and a bereft population huddling together bitterly in a single damp Scout hut which is the county’s only locally-owned building.

Facts

  • AVERAGE RESIDENT INCOME (summer): £15,879
  • AVERAGE RESIDENT INCOME (winter): £13
  • EXPORTS: Pasties
  • IMPORTS: Nasties
  • TERRAIN: Golden and crusty, thanks to brush of egg yolk
  • LOWEST POINT: Forced to busk in Devon to get enough money to buy surfboard
  • OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: English, Cornish, Pretending to speak Cornish
  • WHAT IT’LL DO WHEN IT ACHIEVES SELF-RULE: Mass mooning along the Tamar

History

750 BC – Tin is discovered in Cornwall. Rich seams of the metal remain untapped until somebody tracks down a tin-opener.

838 AD – Cornish and Danish allies are defeated in battle by King Egbert and chief advisor Humpty Dumpty.

11th Century – Cornwall demonstrates its progressive attitude by experiencing a sharp decline in traditional industries more than 800 years before they die in the rest of Britain.

1497 – Cornish rebels rise up against war taxes levied by Henry VII. Despite gathering together an army of over 15,000 to march on Devon, the tired fighters are turned back in under two hours by the King waving a rolled-up newspaper.

1602 – Richard Carew observes an early form of rugby being played in Cornwall. The game displays many features of the modern sport, including an oval-shaped ball and the pushing of one’s face into the buttocks of the man in front.

1946 – Panic grips Whitehall after the Government forgets it left the Crown Jewels in Bodmin for safekeeping during World War II.

1967 – Supertanker Torrey Canyon runs aground off the western coast of Cornwall in the world’s first major oil spill disaster. Authorities ill-equipped to handle the disaster try to contain damage to the coastline by using the absorbent seabirds as wipes.

1981 – Apologising for an administrative error, NATO asks Cornwall to return the membership card it accidentally sent.

2007 – Responding to a challenge from an old schoolfriend, Conservative Party leader David Cameron appoints Mark Prisk MP as Shadow Minister for Cornwall to win a bet.

Did You Know?

Invented by tin miners as a portable lunch they could safely carry to work without ingesting poisonous mine dust, an authentic Cornish pasty contains lamb, potatoes, turnip, apples, custard, more lamb, curd, alabaster, stones, and poisonous mine dust.

Born in Penzance, Humphrey Davy was one of the foremost scientists of his generation. Davy was also a frequent user of laughing gas, a habit which unfortunately led many at the Royal Society to misinterpret his hilarious lecture on the poisonous effects of chlorine.

In May 2007, Penzance man Tony Wright broke the world sleep deprivation record, going without rest for over 11 days. In interviews, Tony explained that the ability to stay awake without any motivation for doing so was an important part of growing up in Penzance.

Saint Piran, who arrived on the Cornish peninsula from Ireland in the early 6th century, was made patron saint of Cornwall after being made redundant from his previous job as patron saint of tin miners.

Current estimates put the number of people fluent in Cornish at approximately 300, a figure so low even Klingon speakers laugh.

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