Thursday, 31 December 2009

COP15 Part Five

We arrive at our accommodation, a school in one of Copenhagen's suburbs, around 5.30am. I am impressed by the school which is well designed and warm. I wonder why British schools can't be more like it. The school children have written welcome notes along the lines of' 'welcome to our school, enjoy your stay and please put everything back as you found it before you leave.' There's a large Christmas tree and child-drawn-decorations saying 'God Jul' or 'Happy Christmas,' It's very sweet.

After our welcome from, I think, the Headmaster, we disperse to populate the various classrooms and lay down our sleeping mats and have (hallelujah) hot showers (Christian Aid had suggested their party bring swimming costumes as the showers were communal). I find a space in room 7B and inflate my mattress, although I dont plan on using it tonight.

After we're sorted, I go and find Joanna.

We agree that if we sleep, we'll never get up for the flood at 8am. The flood; is Friends of the Earth's Copenhagen march stunt.

A couple of hours later, having survived communal showering by angling oneself right and stuffing a couple of jam-less rolls down the throat, around half the coach party brave the dry and bitter chill to meander our way to the metro.

Friends of the Earth have negotiated discounted travel cards which are neatly printed yellow cards the size of my Co-operative bank card (which I later lose, but that's another, uninteresting, story). The Danes on the Metro smile at each other. At one stop a Muslim woman in full hijab, abaya but not niquab, gets on and I think this must be the only time of year it's a relief, in terms of the weather, to wear one, although the material looks a little scratchy, like a habit. 40 minutes later we are getting off the metro and heading over the road to the Klimaforum, meeting point/exhibition hall/platform for speakers.

(The pink flag will be unfolded later, it is the Stop Climate Chaos coalition flag).

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

COP15 Part Four

A friendly Austrian on our coach acts as translator, going out first to talk to the police about how the three hour search is to be conducted. He comes back after what feels like an eternity to relay the information back to us. Joanna follows this up with information from FOE (Friends of the Earth).

After interludes of cigarettes, yoga, star-jumps, cigarettes, coffee, some toilet trips ('spinner in der toiletten?' I use my terrible German to ask the police lady who searches my person. She shrugs.) and a photograph of Daniel with a friendly police officer who, I think, looks a little like Orlando Bloom,

we are all back in the coach.

We see a van that looks a little like an ambulance out of the window as we are about to pull away. A man disappears into it and a blind in the window being pulled down confirms what we all feared we'd have to go through when we were pulled over...the cavity search. Shudder.

A woman who is covered head to toe in purple drapery starts to irritate everyone. I consider binding and gagging but imagine I'm just being rude in my head because I'm tired.

I try and amuse everybody saying it would be great if Derren Brown was on board because he could click his fingers and send us all to sleep (I can't sleep on coaches). We won't be sleeping tonight, now that the Eurostar,searches and breaks have made us nearly five hours late.

I muse that hypnotism doesn't work on me as I like to be in control.

Purple-clothed woman asks if I let my guard down during sex. I duck behind my seat so I don't have to look her in the eye. I can't believe her audacity. She merely takes my action as a 'no.' I want to push her out the emergency exit and ask the driver to step on it.

Meanwhile cavity searched men are being handcuffed and put in a van. Someone makes a comment bout how unfortunate it would be if they were immigrants caught up in all of this, an issue to be dealt with another time.

Monday, 28 December 2009

COP15 Part Three

Three hours (or is it two?) and a watch change later we are in Brussels, where we board three coaches waiting outside the station.

Having formed a bond with Daniel, we sit next to each other on the coach, behind Tanya, who works as a fundraiser amongst other things, at the CAT (Centre for Alternative Technologies) in Wales and Rory, who as I mentioned earlier works for the Woodland trust.

We travel for a long time through Belgium, Holland and Germany. I take photographs of various Windmills in Holland through the window.

I film Rory talking to Tanya about climate change, with interjections from Daniel about the possible hope of algae.

(Youtube won't take the film at the moment, it's too long).

We're getting increasingly delayed because our two drivers are required by law to take a break every four hours. On one of the breaks Daniel buys a massive can of beer (1 litre) and I buy some apple flavoured vodka which tastes sort of like Apple Sourz. I give a little taster to a training doctor who is with us.

After many hours, in Germany, we are pulled over at a police check-point.

Apparently, the Geman police are working with the Danish police, as the latter have deployed their entire force to the centre of Copenhagen, understandably.
Thankfully, St. Andrews educated Joanna speaks French fluently and it able to humour our coach drivers as well as negotiating for one of them (apologies for not having a name) to make us all a much needed coffee.

The police have to search everybody one by one, for which they have erected a staging area (or marquee). Each person has to take their luggage from the hold and themselves to said marquee to be felt up and have their things gone through. Just like at an airport, which ironically some people are beginning to voice a desire for at this point.

Two hours in, when it's finally my turn, I bound toward the staging area with much excitement. The police are very friendly. They do not go overboard feeling my chest and don't feel my crotch at all. I am pleased that I obviously convey something which continuously allows people to have faith in my honesty (or am mortally offended if it's because they don't find me attractive enough to cop a feel).

Outside, one girl has decided to go through various yoga positions, much to the amusement (or bemusement?) of the police.

I film some of us making the best of the stop by doing a WAVE.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


On my way to work I pass not one, but two streams of frozen piss. Forking out like
2D white trees on the concrete. I haven't seen anything so subtly disgusting for a while and just hope that no pregnant women, small children or infirm slip on the frozen reminder of your drunkeness. And if they do, may I be the one with the rewind button to send your carelessness back where it came from, (keeping it still frozen).

Saturday 19th (?)

Friday, 18 December 2009

Slightly Disjointed Interview With Jonathan Neale Owing To Our Mutual Tiredness/Excitement About COP15

Slightly Disjointed Interview With Jonathan Neale Owing To Our Mutual Tiredness/Excitement About COP15

I knew Jonathan Neale in my final year at university. I’m walking around an exhibit at the Klimaforum in Copenhagen on the Sunday after the march, with my friend Hannah, when I spot him out of the corner of my eye. I get a rush of excitement and race over to him.
A man he’s with is explaining to him in a hushed voice that they’re reducing the numbers of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) allowed into the conference on Wednesday to 15,000 … Jonathan says ‘I think, myself, we don’t panic.’

S: I want to hear what you’re doing here.

J: I’m the International Secretary for the Campaign Against Climate Change. We’re the people who have been organising the national demonstrations up until this year when the NGOs stepped in and did it much bigger but we’re er…we’re…um…

S: Tired?

J: Tired? We are shattered, we had… I had a wonderful, wonderful time yesterday.

S: when did you arrive?

J: We’ve been here a week, we’re here for the duration.

S: Wow.

J: So basically that’s what I do with my life aside from what you are already familiar with.

S: I heard a couple of students say they’d seen you on YouTube and I’ve meant to look you up. Are you filming or recording here?

J: No I’m not filming or recording, I am writing.

S: Right, its weird bumping into you. I’ve got my friend Hannah just over there too, she’s with Climate Camp. They arrived halfway through yesterday, I think. I’ve kind of lost track of time a bit because we stayed up all night. We got stopped by the police for about two and a half hours. I came on the coach with the Stop Climate Chaos coalition and the Friends of the Earth, who’ve helped me out with accommodation and travel and taught me a lot about what we are all doing here.

J: right.

S: So what are you hoping to achieve?

J: First of all I’m just part of the movement. Secondly, I’m part of tons of arguments basically arguing for a socialist position. The third thing is we’ve got a campaign in Britain to get a million green jobs.

S: Right, the Green Party were involved with that…

J: Yes, what we’ve now got is the people who might do it, we’ve got a big network of unions and I’m trying to find other people who can do similar things for other countries.

(Jonathan asks me what I’m doing with my life, I explain that my father has been working with the Green Party for the past twenty-odd years of my life…he clarified for me yesterday that he joined the Green Party in 1981… and how we used to be embarrassed by his involvement, when everybody cared more about money than the environment, but now it’s everywhere and really important and I’ve come to be part of it. Jonathan gives me his email address on a business card and asks me to drop him an email).

S: So when are you going back?

J: I’m going back on Saturday.

S: Okay, I imagine you’re going to write up quite a lot of stuff as well.

J: yes.

S: It’s just really surreal to bump into you.

J: When a movement gets real you start meeting people you didn’t expect to meet.

(We are interrupted by a man telling Jonathan about the Danes prohibiting access to the Bella Centre. Jonathan asks if they’re going to decide who’s a good person and who’s a bad person. The other guy laughs. ‘So they’re just going to limit the number of NGOs?’ Jonathan asks him. I think the other guy says, ‘they’re going to limit but there will still be access.’
Jonathan proclaims, ‘This is the Americans, this is them clearing the way for Obama.’ We are interrupted by someone who is looking to interview Jonathan. He says not tonight, maybe tomorrow. I count my lucky stars I know him from back home).

S: I’ll email you. I’d love to hear about what you get up to when we’re not tired.

J: Oh it’s probably just excitement.

S: Yeah, I was really overwhelmed when that guy announced 100,000 of us turned up [to the march] I almost cried.

J: 100,000, by the way, is the official police estimate.

S: Is that true? Other people were saying it was less than that.

J: No that’s the official police estimate.

S: I went on the anti war march in 2003 in London and they said then that a couple hundred thousand turned up… but what I came away with was two million

J: The organisers said two million and the next day in a survey a question was asked ‘was someone from your household at the anti war march yesterday?’ and, extrapolating the numbers, there were people from 1.3 million households on that march, so that’s at least two million people.

S: Yeah, there must’ve been, I mean you could see. Even one of our neighbours who wouldn’t be seen dead at any kind of protest went.

J: Okay, the easy way to do it is…Wembley stadium is 90,000. Ask yourself; was that crowd bigger than a full Wembley stadium?

S: Definitely. Just look how big the traffic jams were, waiting for the protestors to walk past. You can probably work out how many people there were from how many hours people sat in their cars for.
Where are you off to now?

J: I’m off to dinner with a bunch of Socialists. I’m in the SWP in Britain and I’m talking to the Danish comrades. And then there’s a meeting with the NGOs back here at 7 o’clock to talk about what to do about them reducing the number of NGOs.

(I tell Jonathan that unfortunately, if the SCCcoalition are to make the Eurostar, we have to leave at 12am, but that I’ll email him and hope he’ll be able to fill me in on everything that happens that I’m unable to be a part of in the coming days).

J: Yesterday, I mean that’s the beginning of a global movement.

(I talk to Jonathan on a personal level for a bit and wish him luck. As I write this, he’s just emailed me from Copenhagen saying it was good to see me there. He’s shattered yet optimistic. I share that optimism. Reclaim the power).

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

COP15 Part Two

The Eurostar train is delayed in the end by an hour and thirty minutes due to a fault with the doors. We await a replacement train at Ashford and then see smiles from the passengers who were on their way to London as they swap trains with us (the doors are only a problem when travelling through the tunnel). The trains reverse their respective directions of travel and we are on our way. I am delighted to hear as I fumble with tracing paper toilet paper, the first time I’ve encountered such paper since school, that as a result of our delay we are each to receive a complimentary single ticket or half price return on our next Eurostar trip.

I am sitting beside Daniel directly behind Joanna, manager of Stop Climate Chaos coalition. Joanna tells us about complaints the SCC received post Wave, which took place in London 5th December. There were the obvious yet ironic complaints that the Wave caused traffic jams and the more out there, someone else mentions a drunk who phoned their organisation that day asking if they should kill their pets if animals were contributing to climate change. Let's just hope the Daily Mail goes bankrupt in the near future. Joanna is a kind and compassionate woman and mother of two.


I turn up early at St. Pancras after no sleep due to traffic outside my welcoming sister's Kentish town window. I'm pleased that the London bus service has run smoothly enough to have brought me here. As everyone travelling with the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition converges, I notice an ice sculpture adjacent to us standing as an ironic nod to capitalism, a blonde woman stands in front of the sculpture with a mic negotiating an item for the television. It's 4.45am and she's smoothing her hair before take after take holding the mic up to the frozen sculpted people, pretending to interview them. I have come alone. The first guys I speak to are Daniel, who is representing UNITE and Rory from the Woodland Trust. These are just two of many good people I'm to meet and spend my time in Copenhagen with. I'm asked how I came to be where I'm standing. My first answer that comes to mind is that my father has been campaigning on behalf of the Green Party in Bristol my entire life (I'm twenty-three). I used to be embarrassed by it, when everybody was more conservative and the socks with sandals were doing nothing to impress the still-married-mothers in my primary school playground. I'm proud now that he saw this coming when I was too young to. Daniel is a big guy with a backpack that has a large, folded UNITE flag protruding from it. It is the first time he's done anything like this. I think he's a little nervous. Rory wears glasses with string to keep them from straying from his neck. He's muttering something about a Danish friend who is now in charge of foreign affairs.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Train Rant

It's raining and my Nivea moisturiser has resurfaced on my face as I walk past a seagull corpse on the track at Temple Meads wondering if they'd leave a dead human clawing the air there too. I'm not in the best mood for what I'm about to realise.
As the man at the cashier's booth asks if I have ID for my railcard I almost burst into tears and yell, 'twenty-three, twenty-three,' to see if willpower alone can magic a hologram of the old railcard I've left at home, cut to pieces so that I could look twenty-two for another year. But he's a good man. After I've made my purchase I head down to the subway passage to look at the train times. While scanning the screens I realise I'm hungry so enter the glowing pasty shop. These guys know there should always be filling in the crust, do I look like a coal-miner?
So I buy my pasty and cup of tea (only 99p when you buy the pasty) and move to my right so that a slightly overweight nerdy looking bloke can get his.
"I'd like..." he begins quietly, hands clasped together. But he's cut off by a guy behind him in a neon-yellow reflective waistcoat with a hands free piece in his ear and a tenner ready in his hand who makes his order instead. Unbelievable. The geeky kid looks down and says nothing, embarrassed. But it's not his embarrassment to have. I know the pain of the mumbler and wait until neon-jacket has left and say,
"well that was rude. I hate it when people do that," loudly (I don't mumble in the face of injustice)
"never mind," the cashier says.
The geeky guy smiles and very quickly meets my eye but says nothing. And I think, 'well if I don't fight for us, who will?'

Sunday, 6 December 2009


A small, elderly lady who I've likened to the dwarf from Don't Look Now only because of her appearance (she's a kind lonely woman in person) and who I call 'bluecoat' frequents the shop I work in. She's making her way to the nearest member of staff who will spare her some time and starts talking about something, anything. The Christmas shoppers are milling about like idle turkeys. If you walk into one they'll probably blink a couple of times look at you through glazed eyes then change direction, bobbing over to a different bay to pour over Clarkson or Delia (who is the best at preparing Turkeys). The elderly, hunched woman pretends to be part of the crowd but the minute she realises I'm free and, hallelujah, actually there specifically to answer questions on the shop floor, she makes a beeline for me.
"I've got so many books," she says.
"Hmm," I mumble.
"I've got so many books I can't fit them on the shelves anymore."
"Hmm," I repeat.
I don't doubt her, she's in enough to have accumulated a library's worth of empty paperbacks. This gives me an idea. I suggest she visits the library to help alleviate her storage problem.
"It's not very good," she replies.
"No, I agree," I say. I do, Bath Central Library is abysmal.
I've run out of smalltalk and I think she senses this. I am not prepared for what she says next.
"Do bats have bollocks?" she asks.
My eyes widen with surprise.
"And do ants have ar-seholes?" there's a west country twang in her voice.
I laugh as I realise she's talking about the New Scientist books. This satisfies her and she trundles away.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Making Quince Jam

Stanley Rd. West

It's very early in the morning on the first day of December when I wake up having had a bad dream. I can't get back to sleep. For some reason I remember the quince bush outside my old house in Stanley Rd. West. What if the new tenants don't realise they can make jam out of them? Has the fruit already fallen? Is it slowly rotting and wasting on the stones beneath the bush? A wave of injustice passes over me.
As I can't get back to sleep, I forge a plan to save whatever is left. And then I think more about Stanley Rd. West.
Our shared house was cold. Really, really cold. A lot of houses in Bath get cold because Bath stone is porous (I think that's why anyway). The beams beneath Sian's room were rotting, so it smelled musty. Mould attached itself in there to things under the bed, including, sadly, a rather expensive poker set. The beams were so rotten you could bounce up and down on the floor and it would follow your feet on your ascent and descent. The living room wasn't really a living room but a hallway and toward the end of our tenancy, part of the plug in our bath went AWOL and the living room ceiling collapsed under the pressure of shower water leaking out from the gap. When the plumber came over he joked about people having sex in the bath, which I laughed off (we weren't those kind of students, I don't think). When he pulled up the floorboards he showed me underneath and explained that in days of yore everything was so they say 'swept under the carpet' quite literally. My room was a good size - the walls weren't necessarily entirely straight and I could hear the wind howling in the boarded up wall-papered over chimney in bad weather and pigeons cooing either inside or above it most of the year. Once I even heard scrabbling in there. But it felt good in the house. The carpets were atrocious, particularly the grey monstrosity with the pink roses printed at random intervals on its surface circa 1973 (approximately) and we weren't always sure it was our hair we vacuumed up with the Vax vacuum (circa 1983). But it felt good. The back garden was uneven but it had a pink-blooming rose bush at the front and deep red roses at the back in Summer. In the Autumn it had blackberries, until someone got over zealous with the strimmer. I never, ever went into the tumbledown shed for fear of spiders.
When the power cut off (only very occasionally) and everything went black, the first time, I hadn't bothered to find the fuse-box so had to ring the neighbor's doorbell. A kind woman with short (dyed) blonde hair who always smiled hello at me answered and offered her husband to help. He was bald and obviously had a very bad back as he hunched and touched his hand to it from time to time for support. He raised an eyebrow but came over with a torch and insisted that he get on a chair to look at the fuse box. It made me wince watching him climb with his back the way it was and I tried to insist he didn't.
All year round from my bedroom window I could see him pottering around his garden with his fluffy cat which had its own dog-house. In Summer he'd lie in a deck chair topless apart from the gold chain around his neck and catch the sun with his chest.
Anyway, I'm thinking about stealing me some quinces. I like them because of their name's proximity to the word quim and I like making them into jam (delectable with red meats, especially cold). When I cook jam it heats up even the coldest, dampest kitchen.

Making Jam From Stolen (shh) Quinces.

First, pick some (11) quinces by reaching over the wall of your old house and putting your finger to your lips so the builders staring at you like you are the weirdest person on Earth know not to tell your old neighbors. Then go to town and eat breakfast at the Jazz Cafe because it's the best, before heading to the Christmas market. Buy something from the Lithuanian artist who is very, very good. Like him. Finally, later return to the quince bush and perform acrobatics over the garden fence so that your weight is supported on your stomach while you grab three fallen quinces.

Now make your get away.

Go to Somerfield at the bottom of the road (it's there) and buy shit loads of sugar in different forms so you can choose which one you want later and still have some to replace the negative amount you have left for cups of tea.

Laugh off the cashiers comments about how much sugar you are buying.

At home, peel and core all 14 quinces and put them with a guestimated amont of water in a really big pan like this:


Now, you still need to make dinner for your entire (almost) family, so think about making a pie from the left overs of last night's beef stew with some broad beans thrown in because you aren't exactly going to eat left over broad beans on their own, are you. cut some red and orange peppers and red onions dust them with olive oil and drown them in balsamic vinegar then shove some happy pig sausages next to them. Like this:

now add 500grams of soft brown sugar and probably 500grams of granulated sugar. (I used to boycott Tate and Lyle because I heard they treated farmers like shit but apparently they're now 'Fairtrade' so I've lifted this personal embargo).

Now you probably have too much water in there so let it evaporate for the next four hours.

While you are waiting take out the pie, sausage, mash and roasted vegetables and serve them up:

Once you've eaten that up make your way back to the jam. Stir it for a bit, get bored and go and watch television. Get bored of television and go back to the jam and vice versa, again and again, until hey presto, jam is done!

remember to sterilise the jars and lids in boiling water for ten minutes before ladling the hot jam into them. Decide to use greaseproof paper over the tops of the jars and slam the lids on.
Leave jars and mess to cool off. Deal with mess complaints the following day. Lick the spoon.