Once a method of transporting the honest Cornish pasty across the UK, is rapidly growing into a trusted car sharing platform.
For anyone unaware, say hello to the new eco-friendly way of travelling – as well as a platform for making new mates on the move: The Pasty Connection, a car share keeping the South West connected to the rest of the UK. I caught up with the founder of the site, Samuel James Connor, who is harnessing Social Media to make a modest contribution towards making the world (or at least southwest England) a greener and pleasanter land.
“It all started as a way of transporting pasties from Cornwall to other parts of the UK.”
Louise: So, can you tell me a little bit about how the name ‘pasty connection’ came about?
Sam: It all started as a way of transporting pasties from Cornwall to other parts of the UK. People who moved away from Penwith were missing the good honest Cornish pasty. So if anyone was driving up they would say, ‘Ah wicked, the pasty connection!’ and would get a load of pasties driven up from Cornwall, usually to Bristol or London. And that was the original pasty connection. So technically we just turned pasties into people.
L: That’s brilliant. It’s such a good name you know whenever you mention it to anyone they are like ‘that’s so Cornish’.
S: Ha-ha, yeah, exactly, oh it’s the old pasty connection ey… it was always a bit shady back in the day.
L: So how long ago was it set up?
S: About 4/5 years ago. The inspiration for starting it began with me and my friend AJ, (he has since moved to Australia as a tree surgeon). We were sat down one night having a drink or two at his house and we were talking about the pasty connection and how loads of Cornish (especially West Penwithians) end up in Bristol and we were talking about how difficult it was to get things – it’s so far away from anywhere. We are really out here on this limb. It took two hours to get to bloody Exeter, which was just like the start of England really. So we were like fuck, wouldn’t it be good if there was some way of connecting everybody up, cause you know before it was just connecting people with pasties. So it moved on from instead of just transporting pasties, to transporting people. It’s all Cornwall based and I spent a lot of time getting involved in Falmouth University which makes up a lot of people in Cornwall nowadays. You know the idea of a student getting back to Manchester from Falmouth is like fucking hell – in this day it is going to cost about £200. So the beauty of driving is people fill up cars and save money.
L: What’s also been great about it for me and lots of my mates who use it is how it’s become a great way of meeting people. You often find a lot of the people who put up ‘lifts offered’ often just like having the company of other people in the car.
S: Well yeah my friend Danny drives all the time and he doesn’t charge fuel.
L: Yeah exactly that’s amazing, and you know another great thing I’ve found about it is it’s a very safe way of getting about. I’ve never heard of any dodgy situations when people have used it.
S: Yeah well we’ve got thousands of members but when we accept members we look through whether they have got friends in the group, if they’ve been suggested or they have got mutual friends of mine. Then they go straight in and get accepted. If they have joined Facebook or they have profiles where you can’t see anything we will always talk to them, send them a message and ask why do you want to be on here.
“We have up to 14/15 000 members now.”
L: Yeah exactly, so you don’t know them and you don’t know what they might want to get out of it.
S: Exactly. They have to have a picture shot of themselves. We advertise on the site the only rules are – no advertising, and users wanted. But obviously there are background rules. If people are aggressive or unpleasant they’ll get a warning and we have an internal process where if someone has been warned. (Some people have generally been idiots and made up false things and getting involved in other people’s feeds and starting stupid conversations and they get warned or they get cancelled.)
“You know it was ridiculous, she was a girl travelling alone who’s just got in the back seat of my car and off her tits on drugs”
L: That’s great that you do that, like I had no idea. I just kind of trusted the pasty connection.
S: Well a lot of people will talk to us and say you know this person hasn’t turned up and then we will talk to that person and try and find out why – really they are just disrespecting the community. Like for example if some people are going to a wedding and they have an arranged lift and the person doesn’t turn up – that’s fucking out of order really. You would expect people to be a bit more human about it and say the are not going to make it rather than just lunch them out.
For example I recently picked up someone from Bristol and she turned up with her mate. She was like ‘oh I gotta go here, gotta do that, gotta do something first…’ so she ran off and came back to the car about 25 minutes later like lunching out on ketamine! The next sort of half an hour of driving from Bristol to Falmouth she was gurning in the back of the car. You know it was ridiculous, she was a girl travelling alone who’s just got in the back seat of my car and off her tits on drugs (luckily it was me). She was an idiot. With that person we actually phoned her up later on and we were like you know this is pretty fucking serious. I looked on her Facebook and saw some mutual friends we had and spoke to them about it and said you know your mate is putting herself in danger. She eventually got back to us and was like, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did that, I was a bit of an idiot’. We ended up having a bit of a fatherly chat with her. We said to her you got to think about yourself and those around you.
L: Well said! … So how is the site currently? It’s grown massively hasn’t it?
S: Yeah I think we have up to 14/15 000 members now.
L: Are you going to carry on letting it grow?
S: Well this is the complicated thing. We did build a website, but you know it took much more administration, and there were costs involved so we had to generate some funds for that. The beauty of it being on Facebook is that you can see whom the person is, you can see the things that they do and the things that they like and if it’s the sort of person you can bare to be with on your long journey. Also if there is a conversation in an open forum about where and when you are going to be meeting it means you can trace it in case anything goes wrong or anybody goes missing etc. At that point all the money invested in the website we just decided to chuck it. We thought fuck it, this is about people getting lifts it’s not about people making money. I’d rather lose the money from this website that we’ve set up than lose the pasty connection. What I love about it is just helping people, it’s not a money-orientated thing at all. Doing good for goodness fucking sake without all the bullshit!
L: And the future??
The honest truth is AJ and me were just sat there and we were like fucking hell this could be a really truly good honest thing. It means fewer cars on the road, you don’t have to pay extortionate train prices, you can have a smoke in the car on the way up and you can have a laugh. It’s human isn’t it? Another plus thing is you know Facebook is so destroyed as well as smartphones, which are both in turn starting to destroy social structure where people don’t visit each other anymore. People emote to each other on Facebook without even writing words and they feel like they have communicated. I feel good about making something positive happen out of what I believe is quite a negative thing in this generation. It brings people together and that’s what I feel good about. We’ve used the medium for something good.
I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to Samuel James Conner (the founder of Pasty Connection) for giving me his time with this interview. Being a regular user of Pasty Connection myself, and having saved me in so many situations – whether I have been stranded without much money or just have wanted to get home at some random hour after a house party…Pasty Connection has always been there, often door to door and nearly always with lovely company.
Ride on Pasties! X
Sam and I have also recently set up a site dedicated for collecting ‘Funny stories and pictures from the back seat of pasty land.’ Check it out by Clicking Here