Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Incredible - I really thought I couldn't despise them any more. And then they do this:
Under today's [budget] plans, duty on cider will increase by 10% above inflation from midnight on Sunday.

But who's this riding to the rescue on a brand new combine harvester?
Britain's best-known cider drinkers The Wurzels were spluttering into their scrumpy today after their beloved brew was targeted in Chancellor Alistair Darling's Budget. The West Country hitmakers, who scored hit singles in 1976 with I Am A Cider Drinker and Combine Harvester, said they were being "unfairly penalised" by a tax hike...
The band - noted for performing with twine around their trousers - said: "We are all very upset that scrumpy cider, being one of the few pleasures that we cherish down here on the farm in the West Country, is being hit by such a tax rise." 
In a statement Tom Banner and Pete Budd of the group, who have performed yokel-style versions of well-known tunes for a number of novelty hits, continued: "We all realise that, in these current times, we have to tighten the string on our trousers, but we must admit that having to cut down on this local favourite leaves us feeling that we are being unfairly penalised."

Bloody jocks. Is it cos we are yokel? I can see some protest folk songs coming on. Or at least their modern equivalent. Join up and 'soothe all your troubles away, oo-ar-oo-ar-ay, oo-ar-oo-ar-ay!'


zmkc said...

Definition of an optimist - someone who really thinks they can't despise them any more

Gadjo Dilo said...

There is going to be a moment in history that will known as The Cider Riots. "As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much cider."

Recusant said...

As a way of targetting the Diamond Whites and White Lightenings of the world, they have used a very heavy mattock.

What they should have done is said that only cider (perry) made from pure - unconcentrated - apple (pear) juice could be legally described as such. All the rest are varieties of 'made-wine' and should be taxed as such.

(I just checked and found that Diamond White et al is made from fermented corn syrup flavoured with apple concentrate. Bleugh!!)

It might also have the pleasant side effect of forcing the Bulmers, Gaymers and Strongbows to actually make cider again. If it's good enough for the fine folks at Westons in Much Marcle, it should be good enough for them.

jonathan law said...

If rebellious yokels are looking for a rallying point, they could do no better than this: -- the Burton Pynsent monument, a 130-foot pillar on a steep scarp above the West Sedgemoor levels that is visible for miles across the Somerset plain.

This proud landmark memorializes the defeat of the last government attempt to impose a special tax on cider, in the mid 18th century. The local landowner, Sir Burton Pynsent, was so delighted at Pitt the Elder’s refusal to pass the bill that he left his entire estate to the PM. Brushing aside the opposition of the Pynsent family, Pitt pocketed the lot and ordered the monument to be built as a sign of his gratitude (or perhaps as a great big f u?: either way, it shows a deal more style than our current crop of wannabe lobbyists).

You used to be able to climb the thing, but access has been denied since an incident in which a Jersey cow somehow wound her way up the spiral staircase and threw herself from the parapet. Or so the locals will tell you. After a glass or two of cider.

By the way, as a Somerset lad myself it pains me no end to say this, but isn’t cider always a strangely disappointing drink? It’s never as nice as you expect it to be: too sweet, too dry, too insipid, or too gut-scouringly strong.

And even more by the way, re Bloody Jocks, isn’t that Tommy Banner, accordion man in the Wurzels, himself some kind of a Scot?

Recusant said...

Jonathan, that'll be because cider isn't really a Somerset drink, but a Three Counties tipple. If it ain't from Herefordshire, Worcestershire or the non-bankers part of Gloucestershire (Severn Valley & Forest of Dean), it ain't actually drinkable.

Gaw said...

z: Here's one to take things to another new low:

Gadjo: Brilliant - except scrumpy hardly bubbles, let alone foams!

Recusant: Excellent analysis and absolutely the sensible thing to have done. It's the casual vandalism for such little fiscal gain that's depressing.

Jonathan: Fantastic! Spot on about cider too. I also find the weather has to be just right for it - fresh and warm and sunny.

I'm afraid I've got to side with Recu: having lived in Bath and with a brother who spent a few years in Ledbury I have to say Hereford scrumpy is better!

Anonymous said...

Although happy to hate the lawmakers, surely the purpose of scrumpy is that it is concocted outside the tax regime? I had always assumed that the excise saved was what what paid for smocks, strange hats and chewing straw.

zmkc said...

That's horrifying - but I actually prefer to despise them for incompetence than to have to recognise that there is any cunning, however malevolent, lurking there.

Gaw said...

Nonie Mouse: Good point! And I suppose even more of it will be produced now. But nevertheless I strongly suspect the planting and maintenance of extensive cider orchards cannot be supported by this mode of production.

z: Who knows what the motivation was in this instance? But I think heedlessness cannot be denied.

Brit said...

Do you know that the Wurzels play Combine Harvester twice in their set? This has long troubled me.