This is Cornwall now. Not the cream tea, surf and sunshine Cornwall but the harsh reality of survival that many people in Cornwall are enduring. The towns of Camborne, Pool and Redruth are unrecognisable to the tourists that come here. No-one would think that these places are actually in Cornwall, without the ubiquitous backdrop of a blue sea, but they are and they are some of the poorest areas, not only in Britain but in Europe.

(photograph purloined from

The C.P.R. Tryptych (2)

“Well Cornish lads are fishermen and Cornish lads are miners too

But when the fish and tin are gone what are Cornish boys to do?”

(Graffiti written after closure of South Crofty mine, Pool, from the song Cornish Lads, Roger Bryant 1994)


Camborne, Pool and Redruth


Cornwall Portrayed Realistically

Long gutted of its finest minds

Its life-force forced away

The wheals now at a standstill

Winding gear wound down

Observe the tired old buildings

Flickering between the ages

Once home to grand design

Power-dressed granite in miniature

Long-discarded non-conformist chapels

Once-removed but not too showy

(Like footballers were in the seventies)

Now home to discounted mattresses

And cross-trainers not cross-adherents

Glimmer towns, rusted, shuttered up

Shorting out and desperate for money

(The WD40 that comes with investment)

Window ledges, dusty with inactivity

Dingy nets and Sports Direct shrouds

Hide the squalor and abandoned pride;

Where Hope wears a grubby hi-vis vest.

What are Cornish boys and girls to do?

What is left for their children;

And their children’s children?

This century leaves them bereft

With shit wages and toxic rents

Sporadic and seasonal jobs

But never a glittering career

Not even a matt-finished one

‘Jobs for life’ has a different meaning

When it’s just work that keeps you alive

Where disability is seen as a career move

Grafting hard for that orange bus-pass

The only growth industry is the foodbank

Or go to Maccy Ds in your tracky-bs

Eating food you don’t have to cook

Because cooking requires fuel

And you can’t have them both

Given insubstantial, fly-by-night jobs

Filling gaps in the gig economy

Without pensions, sick pay or any hope

Of moving on, of betterment.

“Just be grateful you have a job”

Servitude, serving the ungrateful rich

And despised for being just who you are.

You might not work the Great Flat Lode

But you’ll make a great flat white.

© graylightfoot