Thursday, 27 May 2010
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Travelling wasn’t always like this for me; I was in the local paper in 1960, for being the youngest child in England to fly transatlantic – for my New York christening. When I was in my twenties Freddy Laker figured out how to run cheap transatlantic flights – I was at university in America then, studying science, and I remember getting standbys for £50 to come home for holidays. Later, I took cheap flights when I could, and when the children were young we had holidays in St Lucia, Sardinia, Morocco and all around Europe. Those holidays deepened my sense of awe and respect for all life and people on earth. That global mind was one of the good things to come out of the century of flying.
I think the turning point was around 2010. That was a bad year for the airlines. First the early stages of the economic contraction left many of them bust or consolidating. Then fuel prices started going up and that made it more difficult to run cheap flights; the whole scandal of the tar sands didn’t help either. The Icelandic volcano erupting grounded airlines for the first time since they were invented and made some people long for quiet skies, and that uncertainty started a trend towards trains for short-haul. Plus, everyone was saying how unpleasant flying had become, with the anti-terrorism checks and so on. And then I remember the new government - it was that brief Lib-Dem/Conservative coalition – announcing that there would be no more new runways built at Heathrow, Gatwick and Standsted, the main hubs.
With much love, your granny, May 2030
Thursday, 13 May 2010
I know, Lewes is a bubble, but I’ve noticed that what happens here tends to be what the national trend will be. People are becoming ever-so-slightly uncomfortable with mass consumerism, and this feeling seems to have intensified since the banking and politicians’ expenses fiascos. Class isn’t a factor: the class system is far less defined these days in terms of prosperity. Perhaps conscience is the motivating factor these days. Either way, consumerism is being dismantled, invisibly: a revolution that’s not being televised.
I find the trend towards self-employment exciting. By embedding themselves in the community with their work, such people (including me) are more self-determined and therefore more resilient. Recently, I’ve been bartering with friends who are manually skilled – a polytunnel erection for a cord of wood; a beehive for help with marketing. This is a serious game – one that’s incredibly fun, it’s bucking the money system, and it’s so much more real than this plastic world we’ve been living in for most of the 20th century.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
What to do? The allotment is still mid-hungry gap, and my Ashurst veg box is still fortnightly. But there are a few things to eat. There’s the last leeks and some chard, just about to bolt. I’ve been steaming chard, chopping it up with the end of the garlic and olive oil. There’s nettles, of course, which make the best soup on these cold days. There’s rhubarb, loads of rhubarb, still. And there are some good salads around, if you use the young lime leaves along the Pells to replace lettuce, and mix in a few odd leaves like dandelion, kale and rocket. I’ve got some spring onions left over from last year, some just-up chives plus the last parsnips from the old lady in the nearby allotment.
So, in fact, there’s plenty of food. It’s free and it’s incredibly tasty. It’s what there is, until June when the variety starts to grow.
Someone commented recently that I am a rich woman playing at the good life. And the Tesco supporters at the planning meeting implied that local food is for wealthy people. These facile repetitions need to be challenged. I am technically quite poor – poor enough to qualify for tax credits and maximum grants for my children in education, and happy to be so. But I am educated and I read about the world, and so good quality food is a priority, and I forego much of the ‘stuff’ and activity other people seem to find so essential. I’m not alone on the allotment in growing my own food partly because it saves money, and will do so increasingly as economic growth continues to stall and peak oil starts to be felt. The kind of food we eat is a choice. We are not victims of our economic circumstance; we are partners in our own destiny.
Our vicar in Firle, Pete Owen-Jones seems to feel the same in a new BBC2 series, How to Live a Simple Life.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
My new hive is on my allotment on Landport. Blessings on Steve Brigden, the Town Clerk. I asked him if I could keep bees on the allotment and he then all Lewes allotment holders whether they object to honeybees being kept on allotments. As far as I know, there were no objections, only replies of delight, and Steve is now writing a new clause in the allotment contract allowing bees to be kept on all Lewes allotments.
Three other lovely things have happened this week. First, I heard the great news that the North St industrial estate has been redesignated functional flood plain by the Environment Agency. The definition of functional floodplain is land where water has to flow or be stored in times of flood. Which effectively means no new build on almost the entire area. Presumably for the duration of the transition, in other words, a long time. So Angel Properties and the likes will never be able to get their hands on Lewes land. Hooray!
Industrial land like this shouldn’t be built on. It’s meant to be flexible and open for use by the creative, local livelihoods that are emerging as a result of the transition. There’s already a lot of local employment in the area. Some of the warehouses, such as Zu, Pop-up and Arthole, are already buzzing hubs of innovation. Hooray for Lewes Matters, Phoenix Action and the Lewes Community Land Trust. Hooray for Marco Crivello, Anthony Dicks and John Stockdale, our local heroes.
On Sunday I heard Satish Kumar (founder of Resurgence and Schumacher College) give an extraordinary sermon at Glynde Church in a service led by radical pilgrim vicar Peter Owen-Jones. He spoke of the difference between people who are like tourists in this world, seeking what they can get from life, consuming. And people who are pilgrims, who celebrate life and seek to enter a relationship with all beings.
Tomorrow morning I accompany Steph Bradley, a Transition storyteller, on a walk out of Lewes towards Forest Row. She has walked from Totnes along the footpaths over the last month, and is walking around England for six months, visiting about 200 of the transition towns and cities in England, listening to and sharing our stories. Steph is an Earth pilgrim, documenting and celebrating England in transition in 2010.