During my time offline, I’ve been surprised how much I’ve missed blogging. It’s not as though I write that regularly and I don’t think of myself as a blogger (and certainly not as a writer). Yet I have gotten used to this blog as a method of offloading some of my thoughts; it’s actually been good for my piece of mind.
I am one of those people who have thoughts racing through their head at several thousand miles an hour, I am constantly flitting from one thing to the next, I can never settle on one project at at a time at work and I always have dozens of web tabs open at once. This state of being isn’t helped by my massive caffeine intake. I am incapable of reading anything without having an idea for something else and reaching for my notebook (or more recently my netbook) to write it down. My handbag is full of scraps of paper covered with scribblings that have long ceased to mean anything to me. Yesterday I found a post-it note on which I had scrawled, “obesity = climate change issue??? refined sugars fats carbon intensive”. Writing this I am in my favourite and most common position: sat in bad surrounded by open books and notebooks, a sup of tea to the one side, my netbook on my lap and the radio on.
Already I’ve forgotten how this relates to blogging but it was to do with the fact that the process of writing this nonsense helps to clear my mind.
So anyway. I moved into a shared house without any internet (“It’s coming,” promises the landlord. I suspect I will have moved out by the time that it does). This proved to be a good thing in the short term because it meant we were all been forced out of our rooms to seek entertainment and therefore have actually gotten to know each other. This seems like a pretty obvious thing to have done anyway, but I’m not sure that it would have happened so quickly if we’d had access to the numerous time wasting devices of the online world. I don’t mean to sound disparaging, I spend a lot of time on the internet (or did when I was able to) but now I have entire empty evenings stretching out in front of me I realise how much of my time it took up. I can’t even think what used to take so long, but some combination of reading blogs, following links, facebook stalking people I haven’t spoken to for months and the guardian website, took me from returning from work to falling asleep at night. Once shaken out of my initial internet deprived panic I began to think how great it would be to be able to do things I’ve lacked the distraction-free environment to get done. I could finally finish reading Mansfield Park. Actually, I could make significant progress on the growing pile of books I’ve been meaning to read. I could try to put some of the stories going round my head onto paper (or hard drive), I could finish any one of the numerous craft projects I’ve got on the go, I could phone people I’ve lost contact with. As it happens, I’ve been watching a lot more rubbish television and eating a lot of biscuits. Still, I think I’ve learnt a few things. For instance, the world will not stop if I don’t check facebook for a few days.
There’s been a few things that if I had been able to access the internet I would have posted. One of which is Naomi Wolf’s advice to student protesters printed in the Sunday Times on 5th December. (Somebody helpfully left a copy behind when they left the Coffee Shop. I love it when this happens.) If you didn’t have to pay for access to The Times website I would post the article, but as you do I’ll just have to plagiarise the best bits. “I wanted to tear my hair out,” she writes. “they were repeating the errors I had seen in student and progressive protests a generation ago.” She sees those mistakes as marching rather than staging sit-ins (more disruptive and more non-violent), occupying university buildings (“flashy but counter-productive” – alienating other students and the university, neither of which is the enemy here) and wearing masks (the media and public sympathy need names and faces). Her suggestion that protesters sing rather than chant is one I particularly agree with. Chanting can come across as aggressive, but I have seen potentially violent clashes with police diffused by protesters breaking into song. My friend and I serenading riot police with a rendition of Hey Jude is one of my favourite memories of the Kingsnorth Climate Camp.
Counter to the anarchists practice of non-hierachical organisation, Wolf suggests that protest movements need spokespeople. This might run counter to my political instincts, but the historian in me admits that the world would be a different place without Martin Luther King, the Pankhursts, or Gandhi. “Be polite to the police,” she writes. “Violence gives your opposition an excuse to write you off as hooligans.” Again, my experience of climate camp has proved (to me anyway) this to be the case. Finally, she quotes Emma Goldman – “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.” I think that probably speaks for itself. What’s the point in changing the world if it’s not fun?