To Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, earlier draft sent via e-mail on 19/10/2011 – and ammended on 20/and 22/10/2011.
What’s really bugging me right now is the way the Coalition have hi-jacked the word ‘localism’ to justify the destruction of the kinds of ‘natural’ environments Professor Rackham writes about so beautifully- and with such utter originality. Localism to me implies the opposite of the kind of ‘growth’ obsession that Caroline Lucas speaks about so eloquently. I advocate growing vegetables and fruit, Sea Container-homes on designated farm-land (for £20 a week rent with communal toilet facilities)… real green philosophy in action and a great deal of happiness-satisfation in experiences of participants. The population’s addiction to Chinese near slave-wage produced crap (20/10/2011: and manufactured goods of great craft and cost-effectiveness created with zero respect for copyright patents, ie Chinese copies of German Empacher racing (rowing) boats) is akin to the conditions prevailing in China as a result of the dumping of opium (the Opium Wars)- as the Chinese keep reminding us. I’ll blog properly about this – only three minutes left on the Milton Rd threatened Public Library computer.
Please take this up with Cameron.
memories of Aboriginal Australia part 2
added 20th October 2011
I was put in mind of Oliver Rackham’s magisterial book, The History of the Countryside, as I was listening to Will Self’s Radio 4 broadcast in praise of wind turbines (listen here Radio and Audio – Will Self ). I have not re-read Professor Rackham’s book since studying it with fascination in the Central Cambridge Library in 2005. It made a huge impression on me – that the ‘natural environment’ of copses and woodland was effectively man-made from pre-Roman times seems so obvious having read Rackham – but Rackham was the first to explain the hows and whys: and the quest to understand went right back to his pre-teenage days, observing ‘ringed’ trees on his lonely boyhood rambles – yes, his books are a wonderful mesh of autobiography, love of folk poetry (wisdom) and pure science.
In 2006 he was appointed Honorary Professor of Historical Ecology in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge.
No wonder Cambridge University were compelled to create a new department to accommodate this groundbreaking man of learning (and keen amateur actor):
Casting note: In addition to playing Chorus, Professor Oliver Rackham, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, might also enjoy trying his hand at The Holy Fool, the Lord of Misrule, here speaking.
Jester: (promptingly) We are vanquished!
Holy Fool: We are vanquished!
White Taras: We are vanquished! We are vanquished! Oh! Heavenly Master! In old days this would win you knighthood.
(pic source: SSB2)
Dark Goddess: Our Master would as soon lift a finger on us as the king would march his army against a colony of mice. There will be no knighthood, do you hear? (posted March 17th 2011 as ‘magic’)
The disappointing (and wrong-headed) element in Will Self’s self-performed piece was when he said that Aboriginal Australians have been sculpting the ‘wilderness’ of the Outback for ‘40,000 years’. I believe the old people I have spent time with when they reckon that they have been an occupying force for many, many, thousands of years longer than Self’s estimate. I am hoping that Rackham will take his way of reading eco-history to Australia before long. The way eucalyptus trees have evolved ‘explosive’ seed pods might suggest an extraordinarily ancient relationship with man. Likewise these photos I took in 1996, in the company of two Bardi tribal elders, in remote and secret locations on the One Arm Point penninsula in Australia’s far North-West, might scotch forever ‘out of Africa’ theories regarding the human occupation of the Australian continent. In these photos you will see human and ‘giant’ fossilised footprints in some of the most ancient rocks on the planet (some in the inter-tidal zone). You will also, most remarkably, see evidence of the cooking of ancient bread or ‘damper’ in those mysterious rocks. The audio record of being shown these truly amazing sites formed part of the sound sculpture ‘Ingamal Godingi’ (‘it was hidden from you – it was revealed to you’ – Bardi language) which graced the Perth International Festival in 1997. It would be interesting indeed to have these rocks carbon-dated and for geomorpholgists to offer an explanation of the catastrophic event which resulted in these moments of human-giant activity becoming ‘frozen’ from way back in the mists of the beyond-memory time. Get your facts straight, Mr Self!
1. A Giant’s fossilised damper? (1996, NW Australia, Nick Ward)
2. My local guide, Bardi elder.
3. the search for the fossilised footprints
4. my Bardi Elder companion compared foot-size with his ancestor
5. a very remote track miles from anywhere!
6. ancient Australian rocks and reefs
added 29th October:
Last night I listened to Will Self’s self-performed piece about the UK Arms Trade and I am full of admiration for his command of the facts – and his brilliantly stylish exposing of the way BAE create wars in the Middle East in the euphemistic guise of ‘peace-making’.
Keep it up, Mr Self – this week my hat is off to you.
Will Self talking about the arms trade tonight at 8.50pm on Radio 4′s A Point …