In this fight against the threat of unconventional energy techniques like fracking, coal bed methane, coal seam gasification etc. I have been to many 'Protection' camps over the past 4 years ...each a truly unique gift from humanity to itself. I can't imagine finding the words for sharing the truth of the Protector Camp experiences... there is a very deeply emotional level to sharing in genuine community, that defies description... But our beautiful Colin Gong gets it here:
Oh dear ladies & gentleman, today your 'on-the-ground live (and totally biased) reporter' has been going all soft on the inside, whilst simultaneously trying to puff himself up to be all tough on the outside - twice I have found myself welling up and with a tear in my eye...
The first time was in the afternoon. A lovely local couple and their sweet young daughter had come to visit, and I had engaged with them in the kitchen. We had barely gone beyond the hello stage when the mother said to me 'there is something my daughter would like to say to you'. I guess she was aged around 6 or 7, so she was of a height that meant when I bent down onto my knee, I was face to face with her and nicely on a level to listen properly to what she had to say.
I don't remember her words exactly, but fairly closely it went something like this
'Thank you for protecting us..Nobody else is protecting us The government are not protecting us, the council are not protecting us, and the school are not protecting us, so you are the only people who are protecting us'.
She was looking me right in the eye when she said it, and she said it all quite slowly, in an unusually deliberate and measured way for one so young. It was probably within a second of when she had finished speaking that i felt the welling up. Mainly I averted it, by standing up and turning away from her just a little bit to look outside the kitchen for a moment. But what met my eyes out there was another mother I had just met, standing there with a babe-in-arms, just a year old.... ... and it hit me all over again - 'my god what legacy are we in danger of leaving for these young souls? ... and for the generations that are to come after them?
(how can anyone not be horrified by that?)
I am not normally one to hold things like that in, but I guess at some level I sensed it was not the best time to let it come up and out. Apart from anything else, I still had a long 'to do' list for the day!
The second time I will tell you about in a moment.
Today we had the grey sky and light rain to gently cleanse us for much of the morning, and I sensed that a lot of people (including me!) were pretty tired after a long and busy day yesterday. Nothing was getting done in a hurry, that was for sure.
Then around early lunchtime, a minor exodus started - mainly it was people who had come from distant places and who were bound by work obligations..I think without exception they all said how sorry they were that they couldn't stay longer. Then one camp members who are more or less giving their whole life to the cause, and who probably enjoys few things in life more than a good lock-on, said they had to bail out for a short while to prevent their health declining any further than it had all ready. Clearly he was feeling quite unwell and badly in need of proper rest and recuperation in a safe, warm.and dry place. It was obvious that he needed to go, but it was not a departure we had seen coming.
There was a moment just after that when Olive and I looked at each other, and we both knew we were thinking the same thing, but we didn't say it out loud.
Although we kept the faith, at that stage numbers on the camp were starting to look concerningly low..
Cometh the hour though, cometh the men.
And sure enough, within 15 minutes.of that last departure, a posse arrived that instantly buoyed our spirits - six or seven young to middle aged men walked in with serious faces,, in single file and without looking sideways or saying a word.
We are privileged to know a couple of them fairly well from previous campaigns, and we knew these arrivals were seriously bad news for igas and their hired hench-men.
It was probably just after these arrivals that the weather lifted and things began to dry out, and for the middle part of the day it was business as usual. That's a steady stream of visitors, against a back drop of very purposeful 'work' activities going on at various strategic positions around the site - more scaffold poles going from horizontal to vertical, lookout shelters being built, and weak points in perimeters being reinforced..
Thank you to those who came bearing gifts - ranging from home baked cakes still warm from the oven, to a whole box cans of expanding foam.
Thank you also to the visiting supporters who happily chipped in with the daily chores of camp, which helped to free up the time of experienced people to do undefined 'other things' (lol).
At tea time Olive and I bobbed off for a while, wellies n all, to the local eatery/pub to get some things charged up and have a hearty meal. Olive went to the bar, and when she came back she was bearing some food vouchers that she had just been gifted by the proprietor for 'service to the community' and news of the offer of some food to take back to the camp - that was a nice surprise!
We got back to the camp quite late, but all charged up and with appetites fully sated. Before retiring for the night I took a slow stroll around the site. The atmosphere at all the various points where people congregate was notably calm and peaceful. As someone remarked, the temperature is so mild as to be more like autumn than winter, and thanks were given for that.
As I left the site through the main entrance, I stayed for a while to listen to the music around the fire drum that is just inside the gate there. It was k on acoustic guitar and vocals and s on penny whistle, playing in such a way that completely enchanted me, along with the glow of the fire.
It left me with an awareness that I have now had many many times before - that life of a front-line anti-fracker is a rich rich life, in the most meaningful sense of those words.
So I leave you with that second time I found myself welling up. I guess in the main it was what I hadn;t allowed to come up properly earlier.
It was in the bistro after we had eaten, and was triggered by this short but rousing video from Balcombe in Sussex and the summer of 2013. It always takes me back there, and it rarely fails to move me,
Better out than in as they say, and this time there was no need to hold it in...
Sweet dreams everyone, and lets see what tomorrow brings.