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Well, crims in the family! I knew about the spy - well, the sort of spy - but crims eh! An everyday folk of country folk, one of whom apparently was not above skinning turds

That, of course, is a huge exaggeration, but what would one of my posts be without a least one bucketful of bullshit. The question is rhetorical, of course, because going by the number of comments left here - as in none to hardly any - no one will answer it anyway, so in a swift face-saving exercise I am downgrading that question with immediate effect to ‘rhetorical’. There is though a bit of truth in it, and I found out like this.

A few posts ago I recorded by my 96-year-old very ill father-in-law had come to live with us after spending the past seven or eight months across the lane at the farm. As my sister-in-law runs a ‘farm holidays for families with young children’ business and as the season has now started, Roy couldn’t stay on (he was living downstairs in a part of the farmhouse guests and their children use), but my wife didn’t like the idea of him going into a home and offered to take him in.

My son’s bedroom (he is now at university in Liverpool), once the a big utility room behind the kitchen, was adapted, getting a wall-to-wall carpet where my son had made do with rugs on the granite floor (and I wasn’t the first to observe - in my case to the carpet fitter and his mate - what a shame it was that the kind of granite floor assorted middle-class folk would kill for was being hidden by a wall-to-wall carpet) and various hand rails on the walls.

My father-in-law then moved in. But it turned out what with one thing an another that he really does need 24-hour care and my wife found that increasingly she couldn’t cope. So now he has been found a home in Bodmin (and seems to have settled in quite well). His cottage up the road has since been sorted out to make way for letting it out to raise funds to pay for the home and the other night my wife found herself sorting through old photographs. She also came across this newspaper cutting from the Cornish Guardian for 1956. Give it a read:

MADE TO “MISTRUST MY OWN MAKER,” SAYS FARMER

ST BREWARD MAN’S PLEA OF “CONSCIENCE” IN INSURANCE CASE

A father and son, farmers at St. Breward, summoned at Bodmin Magistrates Court on Friday for not paying a National Insurance contribution for the week commencing November 5, were said to have taken no part in the health scheme since it started in July 1948.

They were Frederick Roy Finnemore and Arthur Wesley Finnemore, of Higher De Lank Farm, St Breward. Each was find £1 and ordered to pay 6s. 10d. costs.

Both defendants, decribed [sic] as self-employed farmers, pleaded guilty, and Mr. C. E. Williams, Regional Inspector, pointed out that although they had not paid any contributions, nor held insurance cards, in the eight years the scheme had been in force, they were only summoned for failing to pay one week’s contribution.

Mr. Williams said that when a Ministry inspector called at the farm on a routine check to see insurance cards, the Finnemores agreed that they had not any. The son said they were not going to do “anything about it” unless they had to.

“Flagrant Disregard of Law”  

Commenting that the Ministry regarded the case as a “flagrant disregard of the law,” Mr. Williams said there was no suggestion of financial difficulty so far as the defendants were concerned. He added that he was not asking for an order for the arrears as in view of the period involved the Ministry would take other steps to recover what was due — if necessary through the County Court.

The father, Arthur Wesley Finnemore, told the magistrates: “During the 1914-18 war I was told I was fighting for freedom. I should like to have a little of that.”
He claimed that he was being denied the right of his own conscience and made to “mistrust my own maker.” That was why he had not applied for National Insurance cards.

. . .


Arthur Wesley Finnemore, known as Wesley and after whom my son is named, is bullshitting in my view. He most certainly was a bit of a god-squadder but that wasn’t the reason he didn’t pay his national insurance for eight years. Shortly after I married, a neighbour said of my father-in-law (Wesely’s son) that he ‘would skin a turd to save a penny’ and I don’t doubt that a certain parsimonious streak ran (and runs) through some of the family.

For example, the cottage in which I live was once ‘the farmhouse of the manor’. That makes it sound quite big but it isn’t. Apparently it dates from around the 14th/15th and predates the manor house which as ‘first renovated’ in the 16th. Old Wesley had been a tenant farmer on Bodmin Moor when, at the beginning of the 1930s, the farmhouse, our cottage, the cottage he moved into when he retired in the mid 1990s and another farm several miles away near St Kew came up for sale as a job lot, apparently as a very good price - £3,000, around £200,000 now (for which you can’t today buy a rabbit hutch in London).

At the price there would have been some interest, and quite how old Wesley pipped everyone else to the post I don’t know, but he did. The trouble was that neither he nor his son ever liked spending even the slightest amount on maintaining the farmhouse, so bit by bit it deteriorated, until my sister-in-law (who had married into the family and was not inflicted by the parsimony gene) decided to renovate a great deal of it so she could start her ‘farm holidays for families for young children business’. Incidentally, I am certainly not talking out of school but the family would kill me if they ever read this, but the chances of them ever happening upon this blog are slight to non-existent. And if they do, I shall probably have long been pushing up the daisies.

So Wesley’s plea from the heart that he was being forced ‘to mistrust his own maker’ is bullshit as far as I am concerned (quite apart from the fact that it doesn’t actually make any sense at all - in what way?). He just didn’t like spending any money.

I met him in the late 1980s once or twice before he died, but what I know of him is what I have been told. He was a strong Methodist - a very strong and very manic Methodist by all accounts who would not tolerate alcohol in the house and, I heard just this last Christmas, at Christmas lunch went around smelling everyone’s Coca Cola to make sure there was no booze in it.

Another story I heard was that the last tenants to live in our cottage before were a family of whom the wife was apparently a bit of a goer and sought out the company of the US servicemen who were stationed locally at Hengar Manor in the run-up to D Day. Quite possibly money changed hands. When Wesley found out, he evicted the whole family. Our cottage then slowly became derelict and was used as a cowshed until it was given to my wife who renovated it (doing much of the work herself - she was said to be the only young woman for many miles around to have her own concrete mixer).

So there you have it. Crims? No, not really? Forced to distrust their own maker? Again, no, not really. It was just the usual silly cant said in court by folk who don’t have a leg to stand upon. I remember when I was a district reporter for the South Wales Argus in Ebbw Vale, I attended a magistrates court hearing of a guy up for drink-driving. He swore blind - again and again - that he hadn’t touched a drop. All he had done was polish off a bag of wine gums. Honest, your honours, it must have been those wine gums!

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