Have you ever wondered how all those UPVC, double-glazing companies kept afloat in competition with each other during the last 30 years or so? Well I can tell you - it was all due to the seemingly bottomless market of North Cornwall, where literally about 90% of all houses are fitted with them, plus an obligatory UPVC conservatory tacked onto the side of their already ruined houses, at an extra cost of about £10,000. That's a lot of money from a lot of houses. The market has stayed bouyant due to the built-in decrepancy with which these hideous, white plastic structures are made - they cannot even put those together properly, and they usually fall apart about one day after the 10 year guarantee has expired, so that you can never open the French windows again if they were closed the day before, or never close them again if they were open. If - outside of the booming tourist trade - the employment market in Cornwall has been in the doldrums for the last 20 years or so, then I think you can blame the local builders for just about all of it.
Maybe I am being a little harsh on these Celtic odd-job men. It is quite possible that the extremely poor quality of their handiwork is deliberate policy, in order to punish the 75% of the populace who were not born in Cornwall, and whose forebears have despised Cornwall and the Cornish for generations - certainly since Henry Tudor kicked the cardinals out of Lambeth Palace and executed Sir Henry Moore. (I am surprised that the current Pope did not pay a visit this time, just to thank the Cornish for their unfailing loyalty to Rome for the last 400 years or so. I suppose he had too much on his plate.)
Things almost came to a head in the eighteenth century, when Cornwall sided with the French during the revolution, and the constant and bloody battle with English customs officers was at it's peak. The Cornish did themselves no P.R. favours either, when the 'wreckers' built false lighthouses on dangerous headlands in order to drive confused ships onto the rocks so that they could plunder the goods on board, regardless of the loss of innocent seafarer's lives. The Duchy of Cornwall (currently headed by own own Prince of Wales, and whose officers meet in Bath every year for a pep-talk from Charles), was founded by Henry Tudor, in order to sweeten the local gentry upon whom favours were bestowed in return for allegiance to the Crown. Much good it did him.
But it goes back even further than Henry Tudor, when - as their Gallic counterparts across the water were fighting against the despised Roman invaders - the Cornish were happily enjoying prosperous and peaceful lives in their rocky and far-flung outreaches, by trading tin for other luxuries with Rome as the rest of England were being whipped into submission by the Legions.
The Cornish have never seen themselves as English, so have been viewed as perfidious and treacherous heathens by the English since they first arrived in the barren, western landscape about 5000 years ago - reputedly from Mesopotamia. It is the other side of the coin when we secretly and wistfully admire the independent Cornish spirit of rebellion, as we hand the money over for a coastal trip on the Sabre Marine Diesel to the lad with the tousled hair in Newlyn Harbour, and wonder how much of it is seen by the Inland Revenue headquarters at Somerset House, all those miles away in London.
One thing that the Cornish are really good at though, is place names. Many of them relate to ancient Celtic spirits that still haunt the rocky moors and gorse lands. Bucca is one, and this spirit was still feared and revered at harvest time up until just before the First World War.
The non Celtic names are extremely inventive too - Indian Queens commemorates the passing through of Pocohontas (I think) on her way to London, having landed on Cornish shores from America in the 18th century. There are countless little places with charming names which - without local research - you would never guess their origin.
I was looking at a map of the St Ives area and pawing over a stretch of uninhabited moorland, when I came across a Tor crag called '12 o'clock Rock'. I wonder if Elvis passed through too?