Thursday, 25 November 2010

put the kettle on

When I got home yesterday I discovered that all four of my children had taken part in the student protests, independent of each other. I'm proud of them for being active citizens, willing to participate in protest when democracy is not working. I'm actually amazed that more people haven't been protesting, given that the cuts coincide with the record £7 billion the bankers are about to award themselves in bonuses. 

Rose, who is 17, was one of a hundred students who got kettled on Brighton seafront late yesterday afternoon. That means that she was surrounded by armed and helmeted police and not allowed to leave the cordon to pee, to get warm or for any reason at all. They were kept like that, freezing, for two hours and only allowed to leave after that if they gave their names and addresses and were photographed. The kettling was much more severe in London.

This is apparently how police are being taught how to control peaceful demonstrations and although it is no doubt intended to intimidate citizens into being less likely to protest, I feel it is likely to radicalise a whole new generation of children and youth. 

We are probably entering a time of material hardship and therefore increasing unrest. I grew up with a feeling of national security. My kids will almost certainly not have that privilege. But maybe that's a more real perspective; looking back I can see that the price of our comfort was too high.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

mending our ways

My coat’s so old that it’s practically falling off my back, plus last winter the moths got to it. So when the weather turned I found myself coat shopping. In vain. Nothing, even the expensive coats in various Lewes chains, matched my friendly old pelage for comfort and cover. 

Just in time, a friend of a friend, Yvonne, came to the rescue, turning up at my house one afternoon. We started with a cup of tea, then, confident yet respectful, she encouraged me to take out my favourite old clothes, many too far gone for wearing but lingering in the back of my cupboard hoping for rehabilitation. She left in a while, with my coat, four old favourites and a pile of unwanted clothes to use as patches. A fortnight later she returned with a magnificent redeemed coat, replete with a new fur collar from an old purple fleece and patches all down the sides where the moth holes had been. Good for at least another ten years. And my beloved old rags now have a new lease of life. Plus, while on the case, I took three bags of clothes to the charity shops.

OK, I am now in danger of becoming the patchwork lady but for me, nowadays, comfort and playfulness are more important than status. Anyway, with this double dip/long descent, however you see it, repairing things is going to become the norm. How do we respond to life in a degrowth society, where our children are likely to be poorer than we have been? I say let’s embrace it, and let’s be a bit creative together.