Tag Archives: climate camp

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not worth the earth – these streets are your streets, this turf is your turf.

There are so very many things that I could write about Climate Camp 2009, and other experiences I’ve had in the last couple of weeks. None of it would be very coherent or cohesive, though, I would find it difficult to get points across, I would argue with myself, I would struggle as I always do.  This statement addresses some of my concerns about it, and this article voices some of my hopes and happinesses.

And what about me? I am well and happy. My head is full of ideas, hopes, fears, half-formed analyses. A lot of things are wrong in the world. Some things are right and good. Some things are ugly. Some things are beautiful. I had some time to think and a lot to think about. I value opportunities to meet and spend time with interesting and kind people. My brother is one of the most interesting and kind people I know. I value time spent with him, above much else. I met several new interesting and interested and kind people, too. I like being heard and respected for who I am. I enjoy pubs, pretty girls, Thai food, sunshine, laughter, foxes, freedom and fire. All of the above were features of my week away. I missed my lover, and my bike. My sister is sixteen years old. I got to Newcastle to see her a few hours before her birthday began.

This weekend just gone was Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year – it started at sunset on Friday. I guess that means I started it by tipsily cycling home from the pub where my newish boss had treated me and a colleague to drinkies following an unexpected, but pleasant, ‘it’s 5pm on a Friday and this bottle of wine has been in the fridge for ages!’ one in the office. I had a ‘credit crunch date’ at home, as the boy and I need all the spare dolla we can muster for paying the deposit on, and buying stuff to go in, our new flat next week. We had a nice meal and watched The Proposition – I’d seen it before, in the cinema with K, but he hadn’t, and it is still as bleak yet brilliant as I remembered. Then we sat and talked about stuff and I ended up crying about EDL and/or UAF until I felt very very sick, and not sleeping well at all, wakefully Thinking about Things until after 4am.

I got up on Saturday morning with puffy eyes, had some tea, and baked some really nice cinnamon biscuits. Then had some more tea, then went out on my bike to meet my good buddy P, who I hadn’t seen in four weeks, due to our busy lives. We met at the start of the canal, rode down the Union canal path (nice and flat, and mostly wide with just a couple of slightly scary bits where you’re supposed to get off and walk, but of course we don’t), over aqueducts and under viaducts, talking about stuff – what we’d both been doing over the month, his 30th birthday being in a few days, bikes – to where it meets the Water of Leith path somewhere around Wester Hailes and so we switched on to that (pretty good, scenic, but a lot more bumpy – rather him than me on that roady bike he has borrowed from his brother while the latter is in New Zealand. Leon can handle all the rocks, sticks and mud just fine) and took it all the way to Balerno, where it somewhat abruptly ends. It had been pretty grey and drizzly all day and a proper downpour commenced just as we stood there wondering what to do, so we went to the shop and bought some milk to have with our biscuits, then went a little way back along the path looking for shelter. I always find it sort of awesome how much cover the trees can offer from even this torrential rain – we quickly found a really nice dry spot with a big rock to sit on.

Then P decided that if we scrambled down a horribly steep bit to the river’s edge, it would be a perfect place for a little fire, but upon investigating my handbag it turned out we had no means of making the fire (a mirror, yes, but not enough sunlight for that) so, as the rain wore off, he went back to the shop and bought a lighter, the cheapest newspaper he could find (Daily Express – ugh ugh ugh!), and a fruit loaf, while I ate an apple and collected firewood. We locked our bikes together just off the path. He leapt fearlessly down the slope to his proposed fireplace and I crept gingerly behind him, which took about twenty times as long, but didn’t fall. He crumpled up paper, mysteriously found a huge, comfortable plank and by means of balancing it across rocks, assembled it into a handy bench upwind so we’d be out of the way of any smoke. I built the sticks into the little pyramid over the crumpled paper, gathered some more wood, and lit the fire. He got a rock and bashed the protruding ends of some ‘deadly’ nails back into his lumber bench, convinced me it was now safe to sit on, and flapped the remaining paper at the base of the fire as a makeshift bellows, to get the flames going. Then we just sat and toasted pieces of fruit loaf on a stick and had them and the cookies with milk and talked and stared at the beautiful fire for a couple of hours. When it was time to go home, we let the fire burn itself out and then doused the embers using water from the river in the empty milk bottle. The sun had come out while we were sitting there and it was finally a really beautiful, crisply sunny late afternoon, and clearly the last day of summer, and the start of something new. The ride back was easy because it was all very slightly downhill, and we had a laugh, and talked about autumn and time and light, places, politics, plants and plans.
I went home and hung out with D without crying about UAF, and made some totally delicious vegetarian chilli. That was Rosh Hashanah. When I was younger I used to go to shul.

I talked to my dad on the phone. My mum’s got swine flu but he said she’s not feeling too bad. He’d been to the first day of his teacher training course at uni, so he hadn’t been to shul either, which is more ground-breaking – and had spent the week working in the school where he’s been volunteering part-time for a while now. He told me that it had been the most enjoyable working week of his life and I wasn’t surprised, but was very happy for him. I told him about my three-month review and how happy I was at work too, and about my plans for my career, and about K’s success in Catalunya, and about my bike ride. He told me about reading a story to the children (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street) and how he was impressed and amused by some of their own creative writing, and described the way that he cycles to the school and to uni now – it has been a very long time since he hasn’t had to drive to work, as he used to work a long way out of town in Consett and Blyth. And he told me that my sister had been at a surprise party for her (belatedly) and one or two of her friends’ birthdays.
Obviously I’m gutted for my mum being ill, and I don’t really know what my brother did, but for the rest of us I kind of love that we each celebrated the New Year in our own, very meaningful ways. I think God would like it, if there was one.

In summary, then, same as almost always I suppose: small things good, big things… not so good. Or thereabouts. I am not mentioning the footy. My hopes and plans for 5770 are pretty shiny and exciting. They include

  • not filling in one single job application form
  • Barcelona
  • A garden
  • Saving up for this, yeeeah booooi!

Happy new year to you too.

News from nowhere

Come gather ’round people, wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimming
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

over

“My point would be that there’s nothing in the ice core that gives us any cause for comfort,” said Dr Eric Wolff from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
“There’s nothing that suggests that the Earth will take care of the increase in carbon dioxide.
The ice core suggests that the increase in carbon dioxide will definitely give us a climate change that will be dangerous.”

I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away

[“A]nd while you live you will see all round you people engaged in making others live lives which are not their own, while they themselves care nothing for their own real lives – men who hate life though they fear death. Go back and be the happier for having seen us, for having added a little hope to your struggle. Go on living while you may, striving, with whatsoever pain and labour needs must be, to build up little by little the new day of fellowship, and rest, and happiness.”

Yes, surely! and if others can see it as I have seen it, then it may be called a vision rather than a dream.



It is because everything I have fought for and that all campaigners for social justice have ever fought for – food, clean water, shelter, security – is jeopardised by climate change. Those who claim to identify a conflict between environmentalism and humanitarianism have either failed to read the science or have refused to understand it.

CONTENTS:

Bob DYLAN, The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1963). Alice ROSS, photograph: Kingsnorth coal and oil-fired power station, England (2008). Yoshitomo NARA, sprout the ambassador (2001). Dougie MACLEAN, Caledonia (1979). William MORRIS, Acanthus wallpaper (1875). William MORRIS, News from Nowhere (1890). Alice ROSS, photograph: skies above Kingsnorth crossed by power lines (2008). George MONBIOT, The stakes could not be higher. Everything hinges on stopping coal (2008).

You could either be successful or be us with our winning smiles

One from my notebook: Bryn.

in the kitchen

BRYN

is a boy who could be any age between about 17 and 28. He is pale with pretty jade-green eyes and a dreadhawk which is dun at the roots and then dyed to a subtle, denim blue tending toward slate; I want to say it matches his eyes, but his eyes are really quite different, greener; I think what I mean is it matches somebody’s eyes. It does match his hoody, well-worn, soft like a faded photograph. He has a piercing on the right-hand side of his lip and wears a little ring in it which perhaps lends the impression of a half-smile even when he is not half-smiling (which he is quite often), and he has a slightly unusual face with a prominent nose and mild chin, a little as though when somebody made him, they started by pinching a little pinch of the Bryn-clay and pulled it forward to make a nose, then added everything else around it as an afterthought.

He reminds me of my brother immediately I see him, which is in the kitchen on the first day extolling the virtues of drinking cups of hot water to avoid caffeine. Someone shouts “Bryn, you’re taking this vegan thing too far!” and so I assume he’s straight edge, but then later it turns out he isn’t at all. I say “drinking hot water, eh? It’s really good for you, isn’t it?” (having not regained my Lahndan ‘innit’, definitely not at this stage, I don’t think I did at all really, or maybe self-parodyingly a bit.) and Bryn says “nah it’s not good for you, it just tastes really nice! Nicer than cold water. You should try it”. And this exchange sums up something of what little I’ve gathered about the nature of Bryn: he is unconventionally affable, he is serious but never earnest, or he is light-hearted but never free-wheeling. Something like that. Also he seems, unusually, to be absolutely as happy and comfortable chatting in a group of people or sitting in silence alone somewhere with his thoughts and the sky and the faraway sea in his eyes. If you find him doing the latter, and talk to him, he responds as though he’d just been waiting for you to come along (and ask him what he got up to last night, or whatever – “folk rave!” he might enthusiastically say), rather than as though you’re interrupting. He is quietly confident and never brash; his style is demonstrated when I shyly ask if I can take his photograph and he keenly agrees, smiles, but then doesn’t quite meet the camera’s gaze. It is quite delightful really.

On the last day, when we are in a terrible rush due to leaving the site an hour later than we’d planned (I blame F), we stagger, loaded with bags, past Bryn on our way out. I drop some of mine to hug him and kiss him on the cheek, though because a light rain is falling again, he has his hood up and it gets in the way and so the kiss lands far over toward his lips, perhaps touching them at one side, and I’m a bit embarrassed. Again, that feeling that I want to say something meaningful, or I want to tell him something but I don’t know what. I think I say “it was really good to meet you”, and then he says something about flickr and I say “I will!”

She’s so high.

rule

So I have just returned from The Camp for Climate Action, which was an incredible experience on very many levels. I’m so enthused, so excited and so horrified by various things I’ve seen and heard – I was absolutely cream crackered last night as we got no sleep the night before and travelled all day, but then I just woke up at 8.30 now with my head spinning and churning, with this feeling of momentum, wanting to get up and run and shout like when I was a kid. I guess this is what they mean about being ‘energised’ by taking part in action; it’s quite odd and honestly, even in my most optimistic moments I didn’t imagine it would be this good for me on a personal level. That just seems weird to say now, my life is so very… microcosmic?, it’s hard to get everything in the picture.
I’m trying to summarise, to say something that’ll make sense of it all: Six days in a wet, muddy field being a vegan changed my life? No. Listen to this and see if you feel the same way, if this lump rises up in your throat and your eyes water and – no… I don’t think it will be quite the same, but you should listen to it anyway. I’ve become part of a movement that’s involved the High Court, injuncted men, buckets and buckets of tea, Swampy, Richard and Judy, the Boy Scouts and so much more, sat in a little English village pub (called The Red Lion, for heaven’s sake) and listened to a ‘local’ defending Fergus’ right to look the way he does – he has a few feet of golden hair and a matching beard and is wearing a t-shirt proclaiming that Jesus was a Gay Black Hippy Jew? By the way, it was amazing to hang out with F so much (how often do you spend pretty much 7 x 24 hours straight with one of your mates?!) and I met so many other awesome people, which is part of why I’m so buzzing now, (I even got my London accent back a bit, it’s so funny!) and we did also have a wicked party (plus went to Camden and got pissed up on digestive-biscuit-vodka among other things so that was nice) just in case you’re worrying that I’m too earnest? Also while I was away I got offered a job and an interview for another which just goes to show? I don’t know.
And just noticed I’m (sort of) in the Waily Heil! Hahaha! I remember this woman, she did indeed do the washing up on the first day (she said “I really like washing up! I clearly don’t get enough sex”) and she did seem nice and Jewish I thought and a bit mumsy, I wondered what had happened to her. So that you don’t have to actually read that nonsense here is my 1 minute of fame:
A lot of dirty looks are thrown and the police retreat beyond the perimeter. Camp Climate [why does she keep calling it that, even if you are scrawling in the Faily Fail is it that difficult to get two words in the right order?!] has won the pushing competition.
“Hello,” says the woman next to me. “I’m Alice.”
“I’m Tanya,” I reply. “Pleased to meet you,” she says and we shake hands.
We are so English – even when we are evicting the police, we are polite.

Think of it, a ‘journalist’ from the Daily Hate Mail has done my washing up. That’s wicked, I don’t know whether to laugh or wash the hand that shook hers with caustic soda… Eat my lentils, bitch! My radical socialist queer Jewish intellectual lentils! You LOVE IT. Not sure if she actually did eat my lentils, of course, she’d probably wussed out by Thursday which is when we cooked lunch for ‘the whole of London’ (about 200 people).

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