Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bit of a (glum) rant

Personal up-date first (feel free to skip this), food for thought below that.
But skip that too if you want to, its a bit of a glum rant.
I'd go straight to the comments if I were you, they might be more entertaining.

Personal up-date.

Too many late nights and bottles of wine over the Easter break. Possibly also too much time at home with M and LG (who both have to be kicked a fair bit to get them out of the house). Some of the Easter break has been pretty good, relaxed, enjoyable etc. Some not so much. Feeling a bit limp this week as we got back into "normal" routines.

My situation at home has improved quite a bit, at least in some ways. Progress has been made, levels of understanding and communicated have improved. But its hard to live with someone who is depressed. It takes so much concentration sometimes to stop myself getting sucked into the mire of despair. And there would we be? Both stuck like slugs in a slimy swamp.

(No, Betty and Trac, that would NOT be a good thing to be).
(It occurred to me this morning that "Grace la Limace" is very very close to "Grace la Grimace".)

So, I have had to swing into action again, striking out against the current, concentrating hard to keep it all together, keeping positive things in focus. Swimming first thing Tuesday morning [as a result of last-minute resolve to take control of the day] - I was bloody knackered but it felt good, an almost empty pool with no splishy splashy school kids. I wrote this blog in my head whilst doing my lengths, lets hope I can remember the rest of it.

Some great charity shop bargains. (Something else for Tat, hee hee). I felt brighter already, despite having to return home to the essays which were still trapped in the study, silently yelling. (Ungrammatically, obviously, and using words and phrases borrowed from sources more clever than themselves).

Wednesday, counselling and then worky work.

Weaving today. Hurray. Tho' it was pouring with rain by the time I was all prepared to leave on my bike, so I walked and arrived late. Had to leave early for a school-journey meeting with LG. But good bits in between. Despite unscheduled arrival of the painters, which caught me unusually unprepared. (Nearly all my bags/backpacks/bike panniers/satchels/pockets/cases etc. etc. etc. have an array of discreetly packaged "feminine items" lurking amidst the old packets of polos, defunct shopping lists, tissues and paperclips. Not today.) Bloody menopause.

So - no swimming tomorrow as had planned. No yoga till next week because of Easter break. PTB. But M has sort of suggested brunch/lunch, so might manage that before work in the afternoon. Which might be sort of nice. Might.

Bit of a rant.

It was more than a bit depressing to read in this
weekend paper
that the UK has now reached the point in the year where we have effectively got through that share of the resources which we use (annually) which actually come from the UK. We use more than 3 times our share of the world's resources, so for 2/3 of the year we are living off other people elsewhere at the cost of their welfare, and that of the planet.

We in this country are too inclined to feel smug because we think the USA is much worse than us in terms of ecological responsibility but we could go a long way further before we even begin to take our own global and ecological responsibility seriously enough. India consumes only 0.4% of its share of the world's resources, and even China - which is "developing" fast - only 0.8%.

Apparently happiness levels in the UK (though I don't know what criteria were used to assess this) are thought by some to have peaked in the summer of 1976. I remember it well. It was very hot. I was 16. I was certainly very very happy. Remember those floaty Mateus Rose adverts? it really was quite like that at times!
A range of kinds of evidence (apparently) show levels of well-being/happiness declining, while consumption increases, most of all in "developed" countries..

The article gave lots of statistics about relative imports and exports - apparently the import-export trade in chocolate covered waffles between the UK and Ireland is 3,500 tonnes travelling each way annually. ???

We import slightly more gingerbread than we export annually. We import 1,500 tonnes of potatoes from Germany - and also export the same amount back to them. We exchange not-far-from-equal quantities of chicken with Fance each year. So that goes some way to explaining all the Norbert Dentrassangles which Luce has been spotting recently. They are all full of gingerbread and chocolate-covered waffles. {If you're fed up with this, read her blog. Its more fun}
We even import expertise (esp. medical) from other parts of the world which really need it more than we do.

The article concludes "(this is) a towering monument to economic and environmental inefficiency... meaning-less and wasteful... More profoundly, it matters because we face upheaval from potentially irreversible climate change due, in large part, to the burning of fuel, whilst at the same time there is rising conflict over access to dwindling oil supplies. ... a global economy built on, and blind to, its own fossil fuel dependence simply cannot survive in its current form."

Its bloody depressing, thats my incisive conclusion.

This all particularly gave me food for thought because I had just been reading the following, from "News from Nowhere" written in 1890 by William Morris (yes, he of the Arts and Crafts, flowery wallpaper & Liberty fabrics). He imagines a future utopian England, 100 years in his future. One of the residents of this utopia describes how society and trade initially developed from the nineteenth century onwards (before "a change" came about): the last age of civilization men had got into a vicious circle in the matter of production of wares. They had reached a wonderful facility of production, and in order to make the most of that facility they had gradually created (or allowed to grow) a most elaborate system of buying and selling, which has been called the World Market; and that World-Market, once set a-going, forced them to go on making more and more of these wares, whether they needed them or not. So that while (of course) they could not free themselves from the toil of making real necessaries, they created in a never ending series sham or artificial necessaries...By all this they burdened themselves with a prodigious mass of work merely for the sake of keeping their wretched system going. ... The whole community, in fact, was cast into the jaws of this ravening monster, "the cheap production" forced upon it by the World-Market....

...The appetite of the World-Market grew with what it fed on: the countries within the ring of "civilization" (that is, organized misery) were glutted with the abortions of the market and force and fraud were used unsparingly to "open up" countries outside that pale.... When the civilized World-Market coveted a country not yet in its clutches, some transparent pretext was found - the suppression of a slavery different from, and not so cruel as that of commerce; the pushing of a religion no longer believed in by its promoters; the "rescue" of some desperado or homicidal madman whose misdeeds had got him into trouble amongst the natives of the "barbarous" country - any stick, in short, which would beat the dog at all. Then some bold, unprincipled, ignorant adventurer was found (no difficult task in the days of competition), and he was bribed to "create a market" by breaking up whatever traditional society there might be in the doomed country, and by destroying whatever leisure or pleasure he found there. He forced wares on the native which they did not want, and took their natural products in "exchange", as this form of robbery was called, and thereby he "created new wants", to supply which (that is, to be allowed to live by their new masters) the hapless helpless people had to sell themselves into the slavery of hopeless toil so that they mighy have something wherewith to purchase the nullities of "civilisation".

Bloody hell, eh?

[see how those "bloody"s are seeping back in? I blame the bloody hormones.]

The utopia Morris imagines developed after a revolution against this "system" and against traditional forms of government and education. Hmm, anti-globalisation protests, anyone?

Its a rather unrealistic idyll he describes, a quaintly, medievally rural society where everyone loves work as much as leisure, wearing lovely robes (covered with woven or embroidered willow leaves or chrysanthemums, no doubt) and taking pleasure in the production of beautifully hand-crafted wares. Yeah, right. [Though they do all get to choose what manner of work they do - maybe even M would enjoy work if it could involve diddling around and playing on the computer all day].

However - despite the fact that Morris's utopia isn't very convincing in this twenty-first century, (and its not much good as a novel to be honest) I'm still quite gob-smacked at the astounding prescience of his writing - foreseeing where world trade, industry, finance and politics might lead in a future fairly long after his own time.

So where might that leave me? I buy fair trade bananas and chocolate, for goodness sake! How much does that let me off the hook? Should I be buying cheap grapefruit in the market? Should I buy green beans from Africa in the winter?

Its easy to feel guilty and hard to know how to shop these days.

I feel a bit like Neil from the Young Ones now.
Didn't want to bring you down. Normal service of trivia and nonsense will resume soon.

In the meantime here are some blooming blossoms.

Final pictures of the magnificent magnolia - its now at the peak of its wonderfulness, there will be no more photos of it this year. I haven't got the will to document its decline as the petals drop and disintegrate into brown slime on the pavement... no no no must fight that undertow!

Its wonderful walking beneath its cool pink loveliness on the way to school, it refreshes my

So does Greenwich Park, where I took these pictures (which was also a good excuse to stop and have a rest half way up the hill with too much shopping on my bike).


grumpy old woman said...

Hi Sweetie

Thanks for that write up - it was really good reading and has left me fired up!

The pics were lovely too.

1976 - yes - an amazing year - everyone was happy because the sun was shining all the time - and I fell deeply in love. Wandering hand in hand through fields of wild flowers - the whole world viewed through a different lens - ahhhh - blissful memories ~(:o})=

Kitty said...

Beautiful beautiful photos.

As for the rant, you would get on well with Ruth!! Sustainability is her favourite word, she rarely buys things that are not from the Uk, everything in this house is low energy (which is why I am always tripping over things) and drives only reluctantly because it is too far to cycle to work. I do agree and I know that as an individual we must try to do what we can. But it's hard.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
The Lorax would be proud of you.

Calamity Tat said...

Oh I could so do that hill with a baby on the back! You'd be proud of me and Guy we spent the day (in between blogging) on the veggie patch... we have so many things growing, can't wait to taste... another pressie, oh goody..

ramblingwoman said...

Scary stuff Lettie. That article should have told us what we can do! There is a book you can buy in health food shops/Neals Yard/probably any book shop apart from Smiths about how to reduce your 'footprint' on the world. I'll look out for it. (oh and Amazon) Do you think having things sent to us from th eInternet is worse than going and getting it from a shop? Hmm, strokes chin.

Bird said...

oh my!

i am impressed that y'all can get through so much of the year on your own resources. us yanks are big fat pigs - i am not quite sure of the precise stats, but i think we are about 23% of the world's population and we use up over 70% of the world's resources.

i have learned quite a bit about you from your post and it seems we have much in common:
you teach? (grading essays?) - me too.

16 in '76? - i was 19.

you are going through menopause (oh what a joy). i love having irregular periods and hotflashes (who thought up this stuff?)

you are living with someone who suffers from depression?(me too - or used to.)

i love the tree photos. i take joy in your trees and in knowing you get to see them in person.

lettuce said...

Huh Tat! Huh! I do usually cycle straight up the hill. But my bike panniers were full of milk, wine and oranges. So there.

Can't wait to see your veg. garden.

euro-trac said...

Oh man.... (said in Neil's voice!)

Yes Monday - although, you'll have to tell me the time again! Shall we try the new coffee place by Sainsburys? Or have you done so already?

The dillo naming is easy, it's obvious really as there is an outstanding dillo (Kingdillo) amongst your collection and an obvious trac one too! I just need to look back over your blog to find the numbers, unless you can guess! hehe! (still quite fancy collecting a G&T off you though...)

Sorry - still can't see your sidebar! :o(

Jay said...

Yes, that is depressing. So what are we going to do about it?

Kitty said...

No I can't see it either. Fancy blaming those pretty French girls for it too. Maybe the rosemary beetles have eaten it??
I see Grace has gone.

euro-trac said...

OK - I'm back, having researched the highly important issue of dillo naming...

There's only one King! No.2 of course! I can almost see him in a Las Vegas style jumpsuit!

As for Trac... I was torn between no.4 - funky dillo and, what I've finally chosen, no.6 cheerful dillo! Not because I'm particularly cheerful but because it's got flowers and I draw/doodle flowers everywhere, infact I spell my name with a flower!

What do you reckon? Good choices?

lettuce said...

Good choices Trac. I'd have guessed 2 and 4.
Absolutely, I'll get right onto it! I'll have to devise a namiing-ceremony.

lettuce said...

Oh no, not Grace la limace? she's still there on my computer.

Its all slipping away.......

Calamity Tat said...

Bet a 2 year old weighs more than a few bits of shopping!!!!
You're melting,melting, melting...

ramblingwoman said...

If you don't let up about the cycling Tat a big house will come flying out of the sky and land on you! With only your stripy stocking legs sticking out from underneath.

lettuce said...

hahaha. i thought of Tat on my way back this afternoon, with too much in my panniers again. So I weighed them when I got back!!! They weighed 1 stone each.

So there.

lettuce said...

oh no, my blog template has gone completely la la

euro-trac said...

Awww What's going on? lala??

I've just had Sid shout up the stairs (in a really posh voice for some reason)

"Mother.. Father - The Simpsons!"

He never calls us that!??

Anyway, roughly translated it means... Time to get the wine open!!

Molly Bloom said...

Interesting post today - I like a good mix of polemic and creativity.

Re your sidebar. You might have got some posts that go too far across to the right. If you make some of your sentences shorter on the top posts it might pop back up. That's what happened with mine. Actually, when you go to next month, it will probably pop back up anyway because you'll have a fresh page. I hope it does.

wendy said...

Try and increase the width of your 'content width' to 700px and your 'main width' to 430px before you shorten your sentences. It may be the problem - I have looked intensively at your HTML settings and I just can't see anything unusual.

When you get it right, save the entire template into notepad so that if you have a problem again you can restore it in a wink.

Kitty said...

When the twins were little Jay used to cycle up Gas Hill in Norwich with both of them on the bike (one at the back and one on the front), I think that was a 1 in 4 or something. I had trouble walking up it anyway. I think they probably weighed at least 2 stone each.

What's your problem Lettuce?

Shame no-one here knows Norwich. Gas Hill is a killer. RW is near to Norwich, she should go and give it a try.

lettuce said...


Feeling very limp now.