Tuesday, September 08, 2009

RUSH! on the move - tour by horse

Photographer Peter Marshall is with the Climate Rush tour as it progresses from Sipson to Aylesbury, then Oxford where they plan to close down the airport just renamed London Airport (!) on the 12th September, and then on to Bristol if they are not put in prison first.

The above link is to his web site, mylondondiary - nothing to do with the Evening Standard and the famous column of the same name - and I hope lots of people will look at the photographs, and ask for permission to reprint them (as I did).

Last Friday, September 4th, Rebecca and I went and joined the RUSH! at Sipson, held on the land that Greenpeace have bought with 10,000 signatories, to stop the development on the third runway at Heathrow.

Now, in case people think this is a piece of jumping on the bandwagon publishing, let me make it clear that I live and work directly underneath the Heathrow flight path. I can hear aeroplanes now going over the office in Putney. In the summer, it is hard to talk in our garden for the noise of the planes - in fact I was amazed that in Sipson, right up against the perimeter fence of Heathrow, the noise was identical to that in my garden.

In fact, finding Spison was hard. It officially does not exist. It is not on the map. Not at all so no matter how good your map reading skills are, it makes no difference, you just have to guess which is the Northern perimeter of the airport and head towards it. We were taking copies of RUSH! The Making of a Climate Activist, for Tamsin to sign and sell as they progress on the tour.

When you get near to Sipson, there is just one tiny signpost for a left turn, and then you are in the village. In fact, the village has a great pub, but very few shops and no real centre. The camp on the Greepeace land is just behind the King William 1v pub - or as it is affectionately known to the locals - behind the King Willy.

The camp itself was idyllic. September sunshine, gifts of fruit from the locals, the horses gently resting in the background, the tarpaulins of the carts being sewn, tents up, a large fire starting for the evening. The locals were all delighted to see the Climate Rush! suffragettes and to read about themselves in the book. I met many people, and really wanted to stay all evening and join the camp. I nearly ran away with the fairies and never came back. It is all hugely fun and the nicest of times, while being essential to raise awareness of the fragility of nature. Sipson used to be on a site called Heath Row, and it was a huge market garden, which is why it is still full of fruit trees. The houses are small, and loved, though every time you mow the lawn you must think, is it worth it, when will the bulldozers arrive? It reminded me of the beginning of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe, but this is for real, with real people, right up the road.

It will mean that more people will vote for David Cameron next May as he has said he will cancel the third runway. But that was what Gordon Brown said also. Who can trust politicians now? We have enough flights for business and travel to flourish - we do not need more. It's all about moderation - and we should not treat this planet as an endless resource. Because, although the Climate Camp at Sipson was lovely, and people were having a nice time, when it is a runway, they certainly will not. I heard a journalist on the radio last night saying he is done with flying when he goes on holiday - he takes a train or drives. And when you arrive somewhere with cheap flights, it is full of tourists. Finding the 'real' world is hard, because we, in the first world, have fully invaded it. I may sound like an old fashioned reactionary, but it's just about doing with less, and being happy with less, as a way of life. I hope the young see Tamsin and her friends, and decide she is right - it takes a massive change of lifestyle. But I think her example, which you can read about in her book, will have some impact...I hope so.