It was a slow start, Fai was encouraging, but I felt rusty. Matt had brought his keyboard and drums out. “Well how do you write a song about Armageddon?” asked Fai.
“No idea!” I broke into a sing song voice to the notes of the Sound of Music’s ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’. “How do you write a song about Armageddon?”
Matt and Fai struck up the music and we improvised a few verses, interspersed with laughter. It felt physically amazing to relax with friends and to laugh. The songs began to come but other than the mad dancing around the room and laughter the only thing I remember was a rock number called the Bee Sting.
The next morning I walked briskly to the station smiling to myself about the night’s entertainment, but the assault of adverts and instructions had me feeling edgy by the time I got there.
At the train station the audio instructions start. “DON’T LEAVE YOUR BAGGAGE UNATTENDED”. Stop telling me what to do, what to think, I’m trying to think something else. There are some hedges that I keep my gaze on, for a rest. They don’t ask anything of me. No Smoking Way out. Is there one? Please ensure brake is on when on the platform and please stand back from the edge at all times.
If you look up, there are CCTV cameras everywhere you go in English cities, up high and out of your normal gaze, recording without your permission. There are two first class and seven standard carriages on the train bound for London. There’s a platform and train alteration with six minutes to go. The rumbling deep noise of the train engine obliterates any announcement. Stressed faces are all around me as we all turn questioningly to each other. Did you hear it? No, did you? Someone caught it and we rush off. Old people are having to carry their luggage up and down stairs. After the running platform change, we are waiting and some people are smiling and laughing in their groups with relief. The new train has five standard carriages and three first class. Standard is busy. We are told we had to change because we needed a different train. From the conversations around, people seem to assume that means that this one is bigger.
In London I feel like a photo that’s been overexposed. Letting in too much information, becoming blankly white washed.
It’s one thing to observe, but the way you react to those observations is another. The extent to which you are able to shape or control your emotions or reactions is a skill, one I wish I had cultivated.
Global Power Shift began with an international conference in Istanbul in 2013. It’s aims are to strengthen and diversify the climate movement. People from all around the world were invited to put themselves forward as climate leaders, then return to their counties to stimulate more action. The UK Global Power Shift Conference came about as a result of that seed.
The conference took place in the lecture theatres of University College London and although there was probably less than a hundred people, they represented a wide range of climate groups, many of which I hadn’t heard of before.