Was it ever thus or is it worse? I just cannot remember a time when there was a decent stretch without famine, war or ecological disaster. In the early 90’s to cope with it all I decided with my partner that ‘permaculture’ was the one true way. It meant looking at you feet, the ground you were standing on, your home, the people around you and designing ecological and responsible systems for the area you lived.
My then man and I set up the ‘Exmouth Earth Bank’ in Devon, a local charity shop and information centre dedicated to the promotion of all things sustainable from worm bins to recycled sanitary towels (don’t ask). We took over an old corner shop and painted it with organic milk based paint. It smelt like a dairy. We set up a Local Trading System and I helped my partner begin a vegetable box scheme involving and supporting local organic farmers. All this we did for free working in dead end jobs to pay the rent. And it felt great..for a while.
The only problem was that what had seemed romantic and worthy soon proved to be a bit of a grinding bore. We became friends with wonderful, innovative people but would also constantly attract the odd balls of the community; raw gallic eating fructivores who had vowed to never wash, teenage travellers with dogs on strings and stripped woolly socks who only wanted enough gardening skills to grow skunk and cider apples and who disappeared off whenever there was digging to be done, the local Marxist with his rather large shoulder chip.
I became disenchanted, especially in the cold, wet, often frozen earth of England with the constant disapproval of much of the local conservative community. I didn’t seem to know anyone who read anything but instruction manuals on compost toilet systems and solar panels made from old radiators. Secretly I wanted to make films, to write, I wanted to travel. I wanted romance, not to spend the rest of my days packing onions, organic or no, into cardboard boxes in a freezing shed with chapped lips and only enough money for a couple of pints at the end of the week. We were saving up to buy land, some mud soaked field we could start our new life on in some freezing caravan.
For me it was never going to work. I chickened out but I have always thought that eventually I’ll return to it all…. just not quite yet!
However, long story short and all that and to cheer us all up I found a couple of absolutely daft photos of me in that life and thought they might make you chuckle