Meet the Pococks, the stars of a new BBC documentary to be shown later this month. They want to get ON the grid.
The Corporatist BBC prefers people to stay inside the system. Those who fend for themselves and live independently are likely to refuse to pay their “license fee”, an archaic national tax on the ownership of TVs and radios.
Living on the edge of one of Scotland’s last wilderness areas in Glen Affric in Inverness-shire, the Pococks are begging for electricity to be brought to their remote croft.
For the past 19 years, Iain and Sasha Pocock butchered their own meat, spent days scouring the countryside for firewood, and let their children do their homework by candlelight during the winter months.
Now Mrs Pocock, 37, has refocused on lobbying the electricity company in a bid to get a share of the thousands of volts passing just four miles from her front door and bring the family “into the 21st century”.
“It’s a shame they have to put in these huge pylons,” she said.
“I would have been against them regardless of whether I had electric or not, but the fact that I don’t have electric just makes it even worse for me. The hige costs of bringing the power lines four miles across the Glen does not deter her.
“It’s even tougher when you see the pylons so close to your house, all this electric being shipped away, and I can’t even turn on the light, washing machine or the Hoover. It’s just madness.”
Mr Pocock’s parents bought the croft in 1962 in a bid to create a better life for their seven children away from a cramped council house in Cardiff.
“I was born here on the croft. This is my home,” said Mr Pocock. “It is a place absolutely second to none.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s demanding, there is a lot of hard work and it’s not without its trials and tribulations because of the remoteness, but it is beautiful and relaxing to live here.”
It is a lifestyle that Mr Pocock, 45, wanted to pass onto his own brood.
“If we fancy something different for our dinner, I will go out to one of the hill lochs and catch some wild brown trout,” he said. “That, for me, is living the dream.
“People go to the supermarket, perhaps wanting to treat themselves, and buy farmed rainbow trout which has been lying in a polystyrene packet for a week with this horrible, funny coloured fluid floating around it. Me? I’d throw that to the pigs.”
His ethos is echoed by Mrs Pocock. “We don’t have a lot of money,” she said.
“But what we don’t have we make up for, unlike my childhood where I bounced between 17 different primary schools.
“This was my dream. I was brought up in the countryside. This is what I wanted.
“It was very important that I give my children a stable upbringing.”
The couple have four children: Sarah, 18, Ryan, 17, Ewan, 12, and Douglas, 10. As soon as the youngsters leave for school each morning, Mr and Mrs Pocock’s work begins as they muck out the pigs, milk the cows and tend their land.
“We leap out of bed at 7am and go like idiots all day until 11pm – there is no end of stuff to do,” said Mr Pocock.
The Pococks share their life with 19 horses, 12 sheep, six “mad” dogs, five “greedy” pigs, four ducks and two geese, two dairy cows and countless hens.
With no mains electricity, a large proportion of every day is spent chopping firewood to provide the fuel for cooking and heating.
The nearest street lights are six miles away. During the darker winter months, the children’s homework is done by candlelight.
Daughter Sarah remarks that that is why her handwriting is so large – so she can read it in the murky gloom.
But the landscape around them is changing. The croft is a only a stone’s throw from the controversial multi-million pound electricity pylon line stretching 140 miles through the heart of the Highlands from Beauly to Denny in Stirlingshire.
Power To The Pococks: A Year In The Life of A Crofting Family will be shown on BBC Two Scotland, 9pm, on October 24
The one-hour documentary, is made by Timeline Films.
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