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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

Tickets, Please

When cheap import of Spanish china clay closed Cornish workings and led to redundancy, I feared I might never again earn a living in the county.

I purchased the hand-held ticket machine from a bric-a-brac and objet d’art shop on the narrow streets of Fowey. It is a magnificent piece of mechanical engineering: Once loaded with ink and paper, it can repeatedly print any text. The sale of its output to visitors has restored my income and my pride.

My first customers were harvesting blackberries beside the road to Lostwithiel. ‘It’s been a good year for wild fruit,’ I ventured. ‘And the council has maintained the cost of picking permits at just fifty pence.’

I think it prudent to price modestly. Most visiting walkers I encounter on footpaths and bridleways consider five pounds very fair for a ticket allowing unlimited use of such Cornish tracks for a whole year. Similarly, many foreign nationals think eight pounds a most reasonable sum for freely entering any town in Cornwall without a requirement to report to the police.

Some visitors, however, are reluctant, or even indignant, when asked for payment to undertake activities they believe should be free. I recall one such exchange with an American holidaymaker. He declared it to be madness that a photography permit was required to capture the myriad picturesque craft moored in Fowey harbour together with the collage of trees and buildings clinging to the hillside at Polruan, beyond.

His annoyance abated when I explained that his ten pounds also permitted photographs to be taken from any point on the Cornish coastline where no other restrictions applied. He even upgraded, for a further five pounds, to a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree permit allowing his lens to be directed both inland and seawards. My ability, by that time, to accept credit cards also aided this transaction.

Beaches are a valuable source of revenue. Dog owners particularly appreciate permits allowing their pets access to canine friendly beaches at just five pounds for a week.

Controversy has been caused by Beach Naturism Permits, however. I very actively promote sales to young, slim, attractive, female sunbathers. Unfortunately, my refusal to approve such a licence for any unattractive or overweight lady has resulted in heated debates. Some undress, there and then, in protest, and I am compelled to print on-the-spot fines. These are often defiantly paid - I assume to maintain moral high ground pending official complaint against what I sympathetically agree to be a discriminatory by-law.

My major income derives from parking due to the expectation generated by councils throughout the UK that extortionate sums will be demanded for leaving any vehicle unattended.

A simple sign reading: ‘All Day Parking - 5.00’ is all that is required at the entrance to any piece of waste ground, farmer’s field or private drive to ensure a steady rate of ticket sales. I employ an alternative sign that reads: ‘Parking - 3.00 - Maximum Stay Two Hours’ if I expect the landowner to shortly return.

I write these words while sitting at the fifteenth century blockhouse overlooking the entrance to Fowey harbour. Ribbons of red and gold are being draped across the western sky by the setting sun. I must commence ticket sales for this spectacle - a queue of Japanese tourists has already formed.

Cornish Coastline Photography Permit (360 degree)

Photograph of myriad picturesque craft moored in Fowey harbour together with the collage of trees and buildings clinging to the hillside at Polruan, beyond

Myriad picturesque craft moored in Fowey harbour together with
the collage of trees and buildings clinging to the hillside at Polruan, beyond

(Reproduced by kind permission of Mr Dwight C. Ewing Jnr. of Dallas, Texas, USA)