Think you’re a doomed material girl? Think again. You probably can’t even change a light bulb.
Why is that when I write blogposts about environmental issues, I feel like a stern matron wagging her fat clean finger? It’s not as if I’m not wagging it at myself, too. But if I just wrote “bla bla bla”, it might make as much positive difference. Am I despairing? Not quite. But I do wonder at the value of reminders about the negative impact of our actions on the environment. Without resorting to in-depth study and statistical lines that zigzag vertically where everyone gasps, most of us know have this slow rumbling in the background that we might one day arrive at the petrol station and no oil will pour forth. Although I’m writing that and don’t believe that it’s true.
And yet, how do we live with the guilt that we kinda have to go on leaving a trail of plastic-disaster? For sure, slowly surely we change as our culture changes: the overarching curve is unarguably positive. But day to day, how can the sensitive creatures not be driven mad by the contradictions? I wanted my life to be more like Wind In The Willows (the good parts). But at the bowling alley and amusement arcade last night, I might as well have been in the last diabolical scenes of Avatar. Fat rosy-cheeked children fed greedy machines with endless tickets. For prizes. Plastic prizes. I needed to have a stroke just for an excuse to become unconscious and make it all go away. (God, just so you know, I don’t want a stroke.)
Later we had pizza at Zizzi last night with the fam’s, trying to pretend to be normal. I ate chicken and ham, even though I constantly imagine myself to be vegan, despite being followed by a buttery haze. My sister asked for a straw for her daughter’s apple juice and I had an eco-itch to scratch. My memory vaguely told me that September is STRAWLESS. So I asked the waitress for a paper straw (glass was too far) because it's September, hello. “I’m already vegan for September. That’s enough.” I almost squealed I'M VEGAN TOO but spotted the meat feast slipping down my throat and put the seabird’s stomach bulging with plastic shit to the back of my mind. These small defeats crush me.
I’m managing a tiny team of people right now and I can finally understand why managers at least ought to get paid a LOT of money. The manager seems to have the worst job – managing not only one’s daily expectations of work, but those of others and, like a desperate mother, trying to get the balance right between breaks, aligning values, getting over the mundane stuff. Before you know it, you’re behaving like a d*ck royale because you have to pretend that since the manager title was bestowed upon you, all paradoxes, contradictions, sleepiness and boredom are things of the past. I think, are we ALL just pretending like managers do? That there's a world that all makes sense, that can be measured, with nanas who knit and make pies, or something.
Late night is my favourite time of day. It all makes sense then. It’s a small window of time, from about 8pm til I fall asleep. If I’m lucky, like last night, the place even smells like freshly baked bread. I read. Voraciously. Words soothe me. They promise a shiny future. Everything makes sense in a book. Writers are waving their magic wands. Where problems existed, writers banish them. And jangling-ly my alarm dumps me in plasticated earthland at 8am and all the concepts that massaged me to dream of furry animals are mostly forgotten. Here is the world. Full of over-flowing smelly bins, chicken huts full of poo, bathroom with congested pipes, furry veg that I didn't eat as a vegan. The world is terrifying.
At least it is for a sensitive poet, writer, artist or whatever I am. The last time I wrote a poem was about 3 years ago. And I can’t remember when I painted; I was forced to stop because I couldn’t bear pouring water-paint mixture down the sink. I thought of the ducks and the seabirds and the fish. Dead. With my shit picture hanging on the wall that would soon be forgotten. Even the noble National Trust isn’t to be trusted with our delicate lives. We visited 3 sites over the weekend and the candles, to make rooms smell of bohemian people and wildflower meadows, displayed a horrifying stylised picture of an asphyxiated fish next to the words “will permanently damage aquatic life if released into the environment”. Which environment? Ours? But there’s only one. The shop is IN the environment. The release has happened. Fuck. Where's the tea room to drown it all on a sugar high? It’s the only way to push down the feelings that with each scented candle, the vigil for life as we might not know it.
I saw the picture of Angelina Jolie in The Times yesterday, quoting her as saying she was just trying to live every day. She looked beautiful, of course, but my sister and I remarked on the sadness in her eyes. At 42, having 6 children, recovering from a double reconstructive mastectomy and recently having her ovaries removed, one wonders just how afloat and unstrained any human being can be… especially since she has a string of charities to her name and her gruelling Netlix series has just been released. My God. I am sad, or exhausted, thinking about it. I want to give her a hug and a piece of cake.
The super-rich interest me because they have what many dream of, at least materially. The Jolie household fly from continent to continent regularly helping at various noble projects. The Kardashians zoom around equally, they all do; the air is constantly abuzz with the super-rich. They’re not chem-trails, you conspiracy believers - they’re celeb trails. Nicole Kidman. Madonna. Engelbert Humperdinck. They’re all up there, 30,000ft eating nuts and olives from some poor bastard in southern Europe whose worked his knackers off. I won’t verge towards any more logic. The reasonable people who think they talk “common sense” suffer the most.