Of course I was embarrassed that a photo of me being arrested last week appeared on the front page of the Sussex Express. Not only was it unflattering, but the headline, ‘OAPs arrested in Boots picnic demo’ was equally humiliating (I am 50). However, once my ego got over the shock I realised that the whole fiasco, including the illegal arrest, was effective because it had got loads of people talking about the issues. Several schoolchildren who remembered me from Lewes New School were very concerned and gave their parents the chance to unpick the story.
I’ve been occasionally protesting over the years since I was a teenager, and I tend to do it when the feeling of outrage rises up and needs expression. It’s an intuitive thing. Revolution seems to be in the air, yet the underlying causes of the problems – a capitalist system designed to reward the wealthy – economic growth based on increasing use of finite resources and polluting fossil fuels – peak oil imminent – are so endemic, it’s hard to know where things will go.
The sane place for me to turn, when my heart literally hurts, is always towards nature. I’ve been escaping off to the allotment this week whenever I’ve had enough of the computer. Finishing preparations for the spring which is tangibly starting to happen. Harvesting green salads daily from my polytunnel, which feels at times like a little chapel. This week, inspired by my friend Tali, who has a stall at the Friday market, I’ve been picking the first tender shoots of chives, sorrel and parsley and chopping them up fine with goose grass from the hedgerows and mixing with lemon juice, salt and a little olive oil, for a spring zing on our supper.
I’ve been sowing the first seeds into a small propagator I bought over the winter, a little mantra: cucumber, tomato, celeriac, celery, chillies, aubergines, dreaming of sunshine and abundance. I wonder if we’re dreaming our way out of the dark times.