Monday, 31 October 2022

Saturday, 15 October 2022

What's precious?

"What matters to you and what will you do to protect it?" There are countless interesting discussions resulting from the vandlising of art (thankfully protected by glass) done by young folk trying to get action on the decimation of our life-support system that's happening across our vandalised world. To be clear, my view is that in the image attached... NONE of the scenes should be happening.

The stuff of life (air/water/soil/creatures/biodiversity) is being vandalised every moment of every day. I see and understand well, the rage and desperation they must feel ...facing the reality of a future without that life-support system. Although our tactics are very different (I favour targetted rather than scatter-gun) - the fact of any of us standing up to the criminals in polluting industries and our complicit governments, IS to be applauded (even if the act itself isn't).

I wish we'd succeeded in protecting the future and that instead of vandalism and protest - our young had positive futures to look forward to. It's as if our young are worth/less than #VanGough.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Preston Climate Emergency Centre OPEN DAY 13 Aug 2022

A big day for the wonderful Deb's Whiteside and her family as they open the UK's 19th Climate Emergency Centres @climateEcentres (the first in the North!) in Preston, Lancashire.
[The aim of the Climate Emergency Centre is to provide a space where the people of Preston can come together to learn, and discuss how to reduce our carbon footprint and tackle other social issues as they arise. Many of us were unprepared for the pandemic, let's not let this happen with our children's futures, the environment and natural world. By working as a community we can achieve big things]

Monday, 21 February 2022

10 Hours in A&E

Valentine’s Day and I was floored by a terrifying chest pain – I’d been uncomfortable for a few days, just thought I’d ‘pulled something’ but this was impossible to ignore. Thankfully one niece is a nurse and another a carer and we were all at the same location… they were their usual fabulous selves and took my vital signs, reassured me, booked an ambulance and explained to staff etc.

I ended up doing 10 hours in A&E – without a loved one for comfort as covid restriction mean you go alone unless you’re too frail/mentally unwell etc. It was packed and quite a few did seem to have people with them – even the not-frail. I asked the nurse later about this and she said that if they tell people to go – they just walk up to reception, check-in and say they need to get medical help too! Crazy, sad situation.

Nearly all A&E’s seating is rigid grey plastic seats with scrawny arms that dashed any hope of slightly spreading-out… horridly uncomfortable and torture if bits of you hurt. In the corners of the room there were a few softer chairs that looked like heaven – nabbed by a deserving pregnant lady and a nice man caring for his frail mum. I sat on rigid grey plastic hoping it had more give than at first glance – it didn’t. Nearest to me was a man who must have thought he’d struck gold as he was in a bed-chair – except he was in a really awkward position that basically saw him ‘planked’ at about 20 degrees. The bed-chair couldn't be adjusted as it wasn’t plugged in.

Like most others, I was politely avoiding eye-contact with people – A&E is a strange place where you feel you need what fragments of privacy you can get. A young girl, small and quiet arrived and sat opposite me and our eyes did meet as she was holding her phone up to me – wanting me to read it. I stepped forward and read: “I need a sick-bucket”. I returned a moment later with one – and not a moment too soon!

Some triage stuff was being done in the waiting room with machines brought out from time to time to monitor something and sadly – left behind to go on beeping once they’d been finished with.

Meanwhile I was doing some calming breathing behind my mask… if I was having the heart-attack that the spasming pain in my chest felt like it was… then calm seemed the goal.

Nearby though was the source of much of the human noise in the room; a young girl, her carer/boyfriend and another male friend – all seemed to be under the influence of (perhaps) drugs… they’d been in good spirits but then started demanding medical attention for the girl who they said was having fits and pain. The carer/boyfriend was getting stroppy with the medical staff… then from the corner (in the heavenly chairs), the pregnant lady shouted to the carer/boyfriend that she was fearful she was losing her baby and EVERYONE here was an emergency! The shouting, the beeping machines, the crowd, the fear… my racing heart… “Will you please just keep quiet!” – I pointlessly added to the loudness.

“Look at me love, don’t look at anyone else or listen to anything else… we’re ok you and me… we’ll look our for each other.” said the quiet man in the awkward-angled bed-chair nearest me. I wanted to cry with gratitude at the kindness and care in his voice… it made such a difference. “I’m Fred’ he added.

A drunk woman in pyjamas and dressing gown arrives, leans into the doorway to survey us all and starts shouting. She does this for some time as security try to reason with her… she says “mental f*cking health issues mate!” and she’s left to carry on. She’s got alcohol with her, continues to consume and shout, then curls up in a ball on the floor. The woman I’d dubbed ‘Queen vic’ (older lady... elegant, silent, stoic) finally cracked too with the fresh round of shouting “You’re just being childish now” she said to the pyjama lady who swigged some more alcohol and growled in reply.

The kind man trying to keep his pained and fragile mother as protected from all the chaos as possible… handled her with such dignity and respect – a hard call to maintain any sense of that here.

Another older, quiet lady arrived alone… in her Valentine’s-jumper – full of shiny pink hearts. I wondered where she’d been and what she’d been in the middle of before ending up in here with all of us, the noise and no-one to look out for her. There were no soft seats for her tiny frame.

It helped to ensure you had an ‘A&E-Buddy’ – without friends or family, a visit to the loo meant the risk of not hearing your name and waiting even longer. Fred and I were clearly buddies and went on to advocate for each other as well; I needed pain relief but staff said no because I had to be assessed first… I was too sore and tired to push but Fred wasn’t …and I was served some paracetamol.

Fred begged for his chair to be plugged in; he was suffering with a swollen belly and with his legs not elevated, they too were swelling. I asked for help for him but staff said they couldn’t. At this stage I reasoned with myself that I wasn’t having a heart-attack (I had no grounds for my internal-argument on this but I didn’t let that stop me) …so I told Fred to get out of the chair and he and I dragged it (the weight took us by surprise!) across to a wall with a socket.

OMG if ‘bliss’ was made visual, it would have looked like Fred’s face as he pulled his hat down, his mask up and finally got some comfort with freshly elevated legs and access to so many more positions.

The staff were doing the very best they could and the pressure is no fault of the NHS – it’s clearly the result of years of underfunding that’s forcing patients to endure awful experiences like this. When I first arrived I was quickly given an ECG due to my symptoms… the poor nurse couldn’t get the machine to work and said she’d go find another one as this one was ‘always playing up’ – by the time we finally got a result, so much valuable staff time had been lost on this alone. Much of the machinery looked as tired as the staff.

I was a lucky one… it wasn’t a heart issue or the potential blood clot on the lung they’d also searched for. I actually looked pretty well other than the spasms in the left of my chest which the kind doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics to tackle (*update 5-days later: they worked yay).

*My final blood test and xray had taken me into other bits of the hospital where many poorly people were on beds in hallways… I wondered how long Fred would have to wait for his bed. They’d told him at about 3am that he was 4th In line – not many being checked out at that time of the night though, so I was grateful we’d taken the bed he did have to the plug.

*thank you Fred x

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Activist is not a dirty word

It’s been all waves of hope and despair churning away at my optimism/pessimism as #COP26 fills the screen… I’m speaking later today in Glasgow at the Rally (from the top of a fire engine!) and it’s hard to know what’s even worth saying and I can’t work out how I feel about where we’re at right now and whatever’s next ☹

What the hell is the appropriate tone to take when discussing potential extinction? Some say "be positive, we can't give up hope" - others say "talk about adaptation, about dealing with the reality of the worst that could come". And what point is there to all this anyway – to us gathering in Glasgow and all the others at gatherings all over the UK and the world today… why are you and I even bothering to pay attention when so often we’re failed and have no reason to expect better? My friend Alan asked in a poll: “Do you believe #COP26 will result in significant global change on how we tackle climate change?” 90% or people said NO. Not me – I was in the 10%. I said YES - but not necessarily BECAUSE of #COP26 the conference - but because of the increased awareness and understanding of what we're actually facing. Our survival depends on action and that at least, is more obvious than it’s ever been. 'The Leaders' may fail - but I don't believe that 'The People' will. We gather because WE want to plan ahead and not live for just this moment and the next. Our OBLIGATION drives us - our obligation as parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters – and as co-dependent creatures in a habitat that's sick and sickening more every day. ACTIVIST is not a dirty word - it's an aspiration and an essential ingredient in *democracy. (*We don’t seem to currently have a democracy though; we are in the hands of businessmen and their greed. That's what needs to change in order for anything positive to come. ) There’s been an awful lot of false-promising and lying coming from those at COP26 who are trying to deny reality and keep on profiting… but also, there’s been a huge amount of determined, powerful energy and unity in the protests and the knowledgeable words I hear from activists on media. So many good people, far out-numbering the bad… we may not hold ‘the power’ but we are powerful when we realise it in ourselves ...and each-other. We activists, we’re the optimists - we see what CAN BE and we fight for it. The Greenwashers are the killers – they see what they can get away with, what ‘growth opportunities’ they can seize, what future technology they can imagine as a magic solution and they condemn us and other species to extinction. The wealthier countries are trying to claim credit for cleaner back-yards at home… whilst off-shoring the dirty industries that their voters won’t tolerate. UK-supported fracking in Argentina or Canadian-supported fracking in Namibia – is STILL BLOODY FRACKING! It’s still bloody methane in the air, plastics as a by-product and earthquakes that come as standard. Yet the UK government and Canadian will not own those emissions, seismic activity, water pollution, lost habitats, ruined lives and fractured communities… they off-shored it! We know, there is a better way. We know that there are multitudes of clever, creative innovators who already have the solutions – they’ve just been silenced by the system... denied funding, denied support, denied a place to put their solutions and been kept out of the conversation by big business and its big lobbying. In fact it’s not even lobbying anymore is it? As we’ve seen this week – politicians can be lobbyists & politicians & in industry all at once… multi-tasking for profit. I read a quote yesterday: “State capture happens when narrow interest groups take control of public policy, buying influence to rewrite the rules. There are signs it’s happening in Britain” - Liz David-Barrett So why gather? We need to roar to be heard and we’re louder together. We need to show that we are watching and we will act to preserve life – even if they won’t. We need to reassure ourselves that we are many and they are few… we need to make our connections and weave our networks so that we can call on each other as we did when we fought fracking… to know that those boots will come to the ground we’re preserving or the tree we’re protecting or to halt trucks, hinder HS2, prevent more coal mines and oil fields. Each and every one of us can take a role and increase the power to the good-side… and although not everyone can physically be present – there’s plenty else to do to add weight to the good-side; research, sharing, writing, informing – all this matters. WE need to take back control of the conversation… to ensure it’s not bullshit from politicians that we hear the most but authentic voices, speaking out for the right reasons. We each – as far as we actually know – are born and get just this one ride, this one go-round at life… and we gift the same to our children and theirs. No ONE of us was born with a special-issue ticket entitling us to a different class of life or an upgrade… this fight for our lives, is OUR fight, every one of us. I'm on a one-ticket go-round with you – let’s stay close, refuse petty divisions and fight first for the one thing that matters above all else – ensuring the life-support system can support life. We can deal with the rest once we’ve got that bit sorted 💗