Joy of Halloween

This year, someone took Halloween too far. There I was at a late-night pilates class in a pavilion in the middle of a village rec only accessible by path – gorgeous when stretching and looking out of the glass-fronted facade over the grass and the trees outside.

Trick or treating happened for our kids for the first time ever, we then got them into bed, I drove off to pilates as my husband went off to play footie and the babysitter arrived. I walked the dusky path through the rec to the pavilion. Then towards the end of the class – nearing 10pm, some fully grown man with a gruesome clown mask on banged himself into the glass facade of the pavilion, and edged himself slowly towards the glass door.

It was an incredibly terrifying experience. But I am so proud of the group of mums I was with who found the keys, the teacher managing to lock the door, her hands shaking, as he slowly made his way towards us – in our full view. Then as he walked away our amazing amazing teacher wisely decided to proceed with the class. “No-one gets in the way of us toning our thighs, ladies!”

So with everyone shaking, and with me having called Jan to divert him from footie to walk us back down the path, the evening only ended after everyone got back down on their mats, toned their thighs, shaking from head to toe but having calmly completing the class and not surrendering to fear.

Surrendering to fear…

I’ve never been a massive Halloween fan, not particularly because of being a Christian, just because I’m not into spooky things and culturally it’s just not a holiday I’ve ever fancied celebrating. We went to a Light Party at church this weekend but on actual Halloween night, after consulting wise buddies I love and respect, I accepted the kid’s request to trick or treat along our lovely road and joined in the fun.

It’s all cool, you know.  Harmless fun.  It’s a great occasion to bring neighbours together and the kids had a blast going up the road getting a years supply of sweeties, and I had some giggles with neighbourhood parents along the way.

And then that one guy, that stupid fully grown guy who is a grown up and really should have known better, body-slams himself into the glass facade of the pavilion to knowingly violate and terrorise the evening of mums doing pilates… a normal man with a gruesome clown mask on, on Halloween night.

Most people manage to have innocent fun, and do it responsibly.  But it just made me thing about the crux of what we’re supposed to be celebrating.  The thing is, there’s a lot to be afraid of in life.  There is a lot I am very, very afraid of.  Things in the past, bereavement, loss, suffering, then my job reporting on war crimes, crimes against humanity, seeing them unfold and documenting them as a journalist.  The agony of an unjust world.  Sexual slavery, bonded slavery, slavery.

Refugee kids flee war and shunned from civilised countries which should rush forward to protect them.  They are left in the cold as the temporary accommodation they cobbled together for themselves, in a shit heap in Calais, is set on fire and they face armed police and a no chance of a safe place to sleep this very night.  This is no fantasy.  It’s real life.

Climate change, as we exploit our natural world and deplete our natural resources so much that we condemn our children to a land which cannot provide for them.  The real world is so desperately frightening that if you bothered to find out what was really going on in the lives and on that land within a 5 mile radius of your house, you’d never sleep.

All this terror is real.  And we fabricate this night to dress up as fictional things to sugar coat this crazy soft version of all this scary real shit that is going on under our noses, fuelled by our ignorance and greed?

So when that guy body-slams against the glass of a pavilion and tries to terrorise my pilates class, and the strong mums inside decided to carry on and get back down on their mats and tone their thighs in defiance, I made a decision.

I’m done with being scared.  Screw that stupid clown guy.  Yey to the strong mums who were shaking inside but didn’t give in to their fear and continued the class.  You know, I’m tired of being I scared about life and about the future of humanity.  People are so stupid and the way we live and treat each other and animals and the living world is so unconscionable that we are condemning ourselves to death through our own ignorance.

But to live in fear?  I can’t do it anymore.

So what’s the opposite?  Today I’ve realised it.  It’s what my vicar said at church on Sunday.  It’s about joy.

I feel genuine joy that I am surrounded by wise friends who I can chew over life decisions with.  I acknowledge this as a huge blessing and am joyful.  And I’m so full of joy that when I was in that pavilion with the stupid clown guy outside I saw the true beauty and strength of the women in the class.  Other mums like me trying to strengthen their core muscles, and the irony was that they were being terrorised to their core by this clown and their core wasn’t shaken.  We stood in solidarity together, we loved and protected each other, laughed and shook with fear for a little while, and then repaired each other and carried on defiant.

I feel joy that I have a husband I can call and who will come to me when I feel frightened, and in whose arms I can fall asleep.  I feel such total and utter joy, gratitude and thanksgiving that my children know peace and security, who have food to eat and a safe place to lay their heads.  I never ever want to take that for granted.

Death and despair already do a scarily good job of haunting our daily lives, hunting us down and dogging our footsteps until the end of time.

But even though Halloween seems to be all about ghouls and spooks, skeletons and pumpkins – scary but not too scary – nevertheless it can also be a lovely community activity.  This year it truly was an occasion to bring our neighbourhood together, with kids and parents out in the street having fun and giggles together.

So next year, I’ve decided not to shy away from Halloween.

I’ll love and respect those who celebrate it however they choose.  What will I do differently next year?  Make it my own celebration.  I don’t want to celebrate darkness.  I just don’t.  I want to make it an explicit celebration of all I love and hold dear.  Dress the kids in light and hope.  Drench them in celebration of what I love and hold dear.  Light, love, life, hope, generosity, peace, friendship, gratitude and joy.

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Reclaim the Power

Dear Theresa May,

Tomorrow there will be a day of action against airport expansion. Unfortunately I can’t be there in person, but am writing to let you know that I give the action my absolute and full support. https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/

Thanks to the Paris Agreement COP21 there is full international recognition that dangerous global warning must be halted, and that the only way of holding to 1.5° is to invest in clean renewable technologies and leave fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

There is global resistance to the construction of infrastructures – old dirty technologies – that tie us to the burning of fossil fuels. Airport expansion is my fight because Heathrow, Europe’s largest airport, is my next-door neighbour and my children breathe its dirty toxic air.

It is more important now than ever before that politicians #staygrounded and realise that within our lifetimes we will see the impacts of climate change play out before our eyes. That’s our lifetimes. Not even talking about our children’s lifetimes.

Air pollution is already a leading cause of premature deaths.

Mrs May there is no economic argument for airport expansion that can dismantle the climate evidence you and the rest of the world have agreed on, and that in case you have forgotten since Paris, you must surely have at your disposal.

For the sake of all humanity, for the habitability of the planet for this and for generations to come, please start making some wise choices. Climate change is here, it is happening, and it is going to keep on worsening within your lifetime and mine unless immediate action is taken to halt it.

#NoNewRunways

 

 

Love the Leave voters, for they were lied to

Ok I feel I need to say sorry to anyone who might have voted to Leave the EU. And also to anyone who voted Conservative in the last general election. I strongly disagree with your choices and your politics, but I accept that you have reasons for thinking the way you do. I really am very sorry if I have made anyone feel sad, uncomfortable, unloved or unsafe due to the forcefulness of my Brexit despair.

What makes me saddest about the current political climate is that the red carpet has been rolled out for intolerance and hate. But I am ashamed to say that I may have contributed to that over the last few days. I feel destroyed by the slim margin of opinion in my country which has decided to take me and my family away from a way of life which I feel is good and secure. But even if I strongly dislike the outcome, even if I strongly disagree that a referendum was ever called on this issue in the first place, I don’t hate the voters.

I will do everything I can think of to try and keep Britain in the European Union. I’ll do all I can to stem the tide of far-right politics. Of racism and intolerance.  But I can’t do all those things with fear and loathing in my heart.

Instead I turn to love.

I love my family, made up of a strange circus of immigrants. My dad, half American Indian, half Ukrainian. Born to a Ukrainian immigrant mum in New York where he spent his childhood. Then emigrating to England to forge a new life. He ran away from home and became an actor, couch-surfing in London. Where he met my mum, from rural Wales, who made it to London to study as an opera singer.

They fell in love on the stage and theirs has been a joyous and magical marriage.

And now me. Here I am, married with 3 kids, and nothing about my current life would have been possible without the European Union and the ability to live, love and work in other European countries.

I met a Dutchman who turned out to be the love of my life when he was studying in England. Studies only made possible – and affordable – because of the EU.

We moved to Holland to live and work, and thanks to the EU, his qualifications were transferrable and he was able to practise as a doctor right away.

I worked for an NGO as a journalist and a trainer on projects often funded by the EU. Projects designed to strengthen democracies in war-torn countries and empower populations to rebuild themselves by strengthening freedom of speech.

I travelled to Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda, and worked with amazing colleagues to mentor equally amazing journalists. They’re now living and working to rebuild their fractured societies through responsible journalism.

Wherever I travelled I knew my passport afforded me safety and security. The extraordinary safety and security of being part of a unified Europe. A big massive block of unified countries. Absolutely loads and loads of diplomats who talk to each other and help each other’s citizens when they’re in trouble.

It’s incredible really that in my country, we’ve become so complacent about this extraordinary privilege. Many non-EU friends have remarked over the years about the luxuries an EU passport afforded me. I am embarrassed to say I’ve never truly thought through those luxuries. Until now.

I’ll never ever be able to forget living through the incarceration of my colleague Abdelrachman, who was imprisoned by the Sudanese authorities simply for being a journalist.

The frustration that he, a Sudanese national, was rotting in jail with no powerful allies – apart from human rights organisations – to speak for him and pull diplomatic strings.

We are so lucky in England. Not only that we live in a democratic union with Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland. That we are a united kingdom. But that also for now, whilst we are part of the EU, we are cushioned by a massive ring of allies and trading partners who’ve thrown their lot in with ours. Who are tied to us and will pull together with us when times get tough.

Oh my God. I am still in absolute denial that we’ve decided to drop the handshake and stick 2 fingers up instead. How utterly outrageously shortsighted. An electorate duped by ambitious self-serving politicians.

Here we are building a life for ourselves in London, with my Dutch husband working so hard for the NHS he loves and believes in and fights for every day. He’s an economic migrant to the UK. I am the mother of two children born in Holland, and one born in England. Three of out of my family of five have Dutch passports. Two of us have British ones. But for now, I treasure the fact that we are all European.

We’ll always maintain the dual nationality of our children, certain as we are of the benefits being part of Europe will lavish upon them. But my heart breaks for their friends, perhaps their own kids, whose lives and prospects will be so extremely limited and less secure thanks to Britain’s departure from the EU.

Anyway sorry. All that to say, I’m just really sorry if I’ve made anyone feel shit about themselves or their opinions because I’ve been too forthright in mine. I’ve exposed my politically intolerant side. And that’s wrong. Please forgive me. It’s just everything about me, my family, my loves, my children, our circumstances, my career, everything really about me was made possible because of political unions.

Some Brexiteers would argue that these privileges of study / work / funding and passport will not go; but it’s a pretty risky gamble.

Even the hereditary condition I’ve suffered from since the age of 6 is called Familial Mediterranean Fever. How ironic that the mutant gene which rages through my family’s DNA has it’s origins in Europe.

Incidentally it was a Spanish doctor in the UK who finally diagnosed my condition after nearly 2 decades of misdiagnosis and harmful treatments at the hands of other doctors. Then it was Dutch scientists who found our abnormality and gave the research to the Royal Free in London, who completed the puzzle. All that cross-border medical cooperation has allowed us to know how to give our kids a normal childhood.

Normal childhoods that are so precious.

We’ve hitched through Lebanon and Syrian, chatting to teenagers in parks who feared the authorities were listening in to our conversations. I’ve travelled through eastern Europe chatting to trainee journalists in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia about what is was like to live through a terrifyingly brutal war. A war that only just took place in our very recent past, right on our doorstep. I’ve reported on the war crimes trials at the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia).

I’m not saying these things to brag. I wish I could erase from my brain the testimonies of normal people who’s neighbours turned on them and inflicted the most incomprehensible crimes against humanity. Crimes committed when neighbouring countries are not unified and suddenly turn on each other.

The victims are rarely the politicians who cause the instability. Those who bear the brunt of unwise decisions made by megalomaniacs in positions of power are the group of girls I interviewed in quiet hut in the Central African Republic.  All the victim of brutal rapes commissioned by politicians across the border in the DR Congo.

I’ve seen what happens to beautiful countries when peace and security is dismantled by a few distasteful politicians, who you never imagined could really ever clinch a position of power. But then they do, astonishingly. And all hell is unleashed on normal families much like yours and mine.

It all happens so easily.

I must endeavour to trust the British voters and respect their choices. Despite the fact that many of their choices were influenced by shameless, baseless, indefensible lies from corrupt politicians.

But I don’t hate the voters.

I’m completely and utterly distraught and cannot believe what is happening to my country. But as the daughter of immigrants, and the wife of a migrant, and the mother of Dutch kids, right now it doesn’t really feel like my country very much at all.

Jo Cox: rainbow on a thundercloud

Obviously the murder of MP Jo Cox is tragic because a young mum was gunned down by a right-wing extremist for believing in a better world. Two kids have lost their mother. And by all accounts she was an awesome one.

But aside from the personal tragedy for Jo Cox’s family, here is the tragedy for Britain: how extraordinary she appears to have been in Westminster.

Actual international humanitarian experience, warmth, enthusiasm, compassion. An ability to make informed speeches about human rights based on first-hand field experience, and a deep knowledge of how best to defend the persecuted. And in the same stride, inexhaustible pride in a hometown and a zealous quest to fight for its interests.

What an astonishing indictment on British politics that Jo Cox stood out like a rainbow on a thundercloud.

How utterly tragic that in politics, Cox’s world view and work ethic is seen as having been so exceptional. Her cheerful nature, her groundedness and good heart, managing somehow to bring egos to their knees, cut across political divides, rivalries and agendas to forge alliances, partnership, cooperation.

The tributes to Jo Cox from her Parliamentary colleagues were warm and heartfelt, and left me with a true sense that other MPs respected her and were grateful for her input. But would they want to grow to be more like her? To stand up in Parliament to selflessly represent their hometown and shape Britain’s decisions, actively sharing her compassionate humanitarian outlook?

It has been written a million times that she had a passion to create a better world. Her husband said she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.

I am diametrically opposed to my MP’s very Conservative, very economy-centric viewpoint. So much so that I look with awe and wonder at politicians who bear in mind wider social, environmental, ethical and humanitarian factors when mulling over decisions.

Bravo Jo Cox. Bravo for her life, her experiences, and her desire to make the world a better place. Bravo that she went into politics at all, even for too short a time.

There can, and should, be good people in politics.

Presume that your MP operates with respect and dignity. If you disagree with them, challenge them. Feel disgusted when politicians scar important debates with scaremongering, racism and lies, whilst totally abandoning facts, honesty, decency and reason. Tell your MP you disapprove of that kind of behaviour in politics.

If they won’t budge, put yourself forward. Join a political party, become a political candidate.

If you don’t want to do that, then do this one thing: vote REMAIN on 23rd June.

Together we can make a change.

Thanks Jo Cox for showing us how it can, and should, be done.IMG_7912.JPG

Dunkirk Grande-Synthe refugee camp

We got some really rank chips from the chip shop last week. They were gross, but I am greedy so ate them anyway. As the chips lay in the pit of my stomach I wanted to reach down my own throat and pick them out one by one. I feel a little bit that way about some of the things I saw in the Dunkirk refugee camp.

I kind of wish that I could delve inside my eyeballs and pick out some of the sights. Like the little girl wading towards me as the stinking, soup-like, freezing cold mud sloshes over the rim of her sodden wellies. She’s not distressed, but that’s the most upsetting part. Her little feet and legs have become resigned to it. Even though the mud hasn’t penetrated my boots, my feet are fucking freezing.

I wish I could pick out the image of the man, my age, bent double near a filthy, mud-ridden, soaking wet tent, piled inside with soaking, mud-ridden blankets. He was coughing so hard, a deep nasty cough, that he was nearly sick. He stayed bent double and staring at the floor as mucus oozed from his nose.

If I could, I’d pluck out the image of the armed French police rifling through our van, my bag, our passports, the letter of authorisation we’d been given by the authorities (thanks to Aid Box Convoy), arbitrarily refusing us entry onto the site with our food bags, clothes, tarpaulins, sleeping bags, bottled water and gas cylinders. Heaven forbid anything should get onto the site, during the supposed one-day amnesty, that might just make life on-site slightly less hellish and degrading.

I’d love to erase the image of driving out of the camp into a nice suburban street, straight into a garden centre car park, with lovely houses bang opposite and normal life continuing.

It would be great to be able to forget that feeling of astonishment as people spot a stash of bottled water at the back of our van and start stretching their arms out towards it. “Water my sister!”

I’d asked the volunteer coordinators what to bring ahead of our trip and I’m ashamed to say that when they said bottled water, I didn’t take them seriously. Bottled water? In a camp in the middle of a residential French suburb? On a field flanked by houses and shops with functioning taps? No way!

A friend donated a few boxes of bottled water, after I mentioned it to her, and they flew out of our van like gold dust. There are only 2 taps on the site, set up by medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).  I saw a little girl wheeling a wheelbarrow through the mud, balancing 2 large jerry cans of water.

MSF (an aid organisation responding to the world’s most dire medical and humanitarian need) operates a mobile clinic in the camp 3 days a week.  What the fuck is going on?  Are we in Syria?  Why are there only 2 taps serving thousands of refugees who have to wheel jerry cans through stinking mud back to their freezing stinking tents?

Are we in a French residential suburb or still in a war zone?

That feeling of disgust and frustration at myself, on having eaten all those rank chips, can’t even come close to the deep uncomfortable bewilderment I feel at the current migrant crisis.

At the people we label as ‘illegal’. The conditions we are knowingly leaving people in. But they’re not all from Syria! Oh, shock horror! There are other countries in the world which people want to leave because of oppressive regimes, war, military conscription, ethnic cleansing and torture.

France and the UK are dealing with SO FEW people fleeing war and persecution in comparison with Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. And those who do make it to Europe, after a horrendous journey, after a desperate escape, we consciously chose to allow them to gasp for survival in filthy, freezing, muddy, revolting conditions in a pretty French suburb.

But there are some images from our trip to Dunkirk that I want to leave inside my brain.

The policeman who finally gives us the nod to enter.

Or the 10 year old boy waiting patiently by our van to find shoes for his 3 year old sister. And a group of men, crowding round us in the hopes of finding a clean pair of welly boots to keep their freezing toes from rotting in the mud, push the boy to the front and translate so I know the age of his sister. I see him later, struggling to carry the bags we gave him, but so determined to get them to his family. Jan spots him later still, and gives him a pretend firefighter hat from our toy stash. He gives Jan a beaming smile and wears it on the top of his hoodie.

I never want to forget the humour, as our van struggles in the sloshing mud and a couple of guys in their twenties pretend to blow on the bonnet and keep going, blowing harder and laughing and smiling at us as we start to reverse. A lovely shared joke.

The smiles from the woman walking along behind her husband who is carrying their baby past an indescribably revolting row of Portaloos. Her warm eyes, her nose crinkling as she grins. Her husband holding their sleeping baby so tenderly in his arms, his eyes focused on navigating the mud soup. They look so much like people we’d be friends with.

Another guy runs after our van, once we’ve unloaded all the food bags, and asks me to unwind my window. I’m a little reluctant as he’d been quite pushy in the queue a few minutes earlier, trying to take a bag out of turn. He had politely ignored those who were trying to create order in the frenzy, taking a food bag from inside the van rather than the queue outside. I wind my window down and he says ‘for you my sister’ and offers me the food bag back. “No, no, please” I say smiling, refusing it, giving it back to him. “Salaam, my sister” he says. Oh God. What an extraordinary display of generosity and hospitality. Of perhaps having felt bad about jumping the queue and making amends. I just ache for him and we smile at each other and he clutches his bag and we drive on. I wish so badly that he wasn’t in the degrading position of needing to accept food aid from the back of our van in a freezing cold, muddy hell-hole bang-slap in a French suburb.

It is a scandal that these refugees, migrants, PEOPLE are not being treated as humans. No-one would be able to bear letting any of their children sleep one night in the Dunkirk camp (or the Calais ‘Jungle’, for that matter), let alone feed them a meal cooked there, or even take them in. It is unsafe, inhumane and on our doorstep. Children live alongside rats in faecal sludge. People smugglers prowl amongst unaccompanied minors.

David Cameron it is time to act. Leaving people in such depravity is foolish. Young men are left to fester. Even I felt myself becoming more extreme and fundamental in my beliefs.

Do you know who is doing our country a great service? An extraordinary body of volunteers – largely hippy types like me – keeping the camp afloat. Carefully and skilfully organising (and galvanising) a flow of aid so that it is spread throughout the camp. Teams cooking in tents, camper vans and a make-shift warehouse, turning donated food into delicious meals to distribute. Even more volunteers working in the Calais warehouse, stocked with donations which supply both Grande-Synthe (Dunkirk) and the Calais Jungle. Several of them are staying on-site. Sleeping in the biting cold, the mud, sticking it out even when the police are being bastards and rival people smugglers are firing at each other.

One of the things that made the London Olympics great was the volunteers. Well, there across the channel RIGHT NOW is a formidable body of UK volunteers, working tirelessly despite the conditions, smiling, laughing, joking with the refugees, singing, putting up tents, ferrying sleeping bags, and displaying love in its purest form. And so gracious to Jan and I, who were there for the first time and only stayed one day: “oh thank you so much for coming and so much for your help!” they say, smiling. They stay behind, grafting away in the shit-ridden mud as we drive off, past the police vans, to stock up on cheese and wine at the Carrefour before catching the ferry home to a hot bath before bed.

It’s dumb people like me who are nudging the drilling equipment into the Arctic

My letter to the Wellcome Trust, in response to The Guardian’s Keep It In The Ground campaign, and a rallying call to all the rest of us.  Lets not click an online petition and divests ourselves of our personal responsibilities to halt climate change.

We ALL nudge the drilling equipment into the Arctic with our daily activities.  Oil companies will keep extracting it as long as dumb people like us keep demanding it.

So, lets STOP.

…………..

Dear Wellcome Trust,

Thank God for philanthropists who are motivated to change the world for the better. Like the Wellcome Trust.

The world is facing catastrophic climate change and it’s me, and everyone else like me, driving it.

We’re lazy, self-important hypocrites. We like to sign petitions that lay the responsibility at someone else’s door. Then we jump in the car, drive to the supermarket, get a latte in a disposable cup and buy unfairly-traded food flown to us in airplanes.

We wrap it in yet more plastic, drive it home, and throw it away when it gets forgotten at the back of our vast fridges.

Then we cement over our gardens to park our cars, drive our kids to school, and wonder why we’re all obese and the air is too polluted to safely exercise outside.

We heat badly insulated homes, shove clothes in tumble driers, and fly abroad to make ourselves feel better. That car journey, that disposable cup, that flight, none of that really matters in the great scheme of things. And anyway, I’m busy, and important, and need to drive and fly and wrap my kid’s disposable shitty nappy in plastic and throw it in the landfill.

We need your help, Wellcome Trust. Not because anything you are currently doing is wrong. To the contrary. It’s people like me who are nudging the drilling equipment into the Arctic every time we fill up our cars, book a flight, or buy any number of everyday household products containing petrochemicals.

I reek of hypocrisy, laying the problem at your door and demanding action whilst I carry on, fat and lazy, exactly as I always have. Glancing over my shoulder at my carbon trail and justifying it all away.

Engaging with fossil fuel companies is about as fruitful as engaging with someone like me, and hoping that good sense will prevail.

They’ll keep extracting it as long as dumb people like me keep demanding it. And we’ll still be filling up and pointing fingers as this beautiful earth goes up in flames.

We need forward thinking philanthropists like you to invest in renewables. To lead. To force an immediate rethink and bring about change.

You are our only hope.

Please.

Yours sincerely,

Katy Glassborow​

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2015/apr/24/wellcome-trust-letters-fossil-fuel-divestment

It’s that feeling you get when everyone else is laughing, and you realise they’re laughing at you.

West Londoners, we’re the butt of a joke that’s gone viral and is getting funnier as it gains traction. And all because we’re sleeping with Heathrow.  Well, sleepwalking.

After decades of apathy the global meerkats are shrieking and people everywhere but here are scrambling to their feet to wage war on CO2. In India, America, Australia, they’re pushing against the might of big business to turn away from fossil fuel.

Meanwhile, nestled under Heathrow’s monolithic wingspan, we noiselessly exist. Planes rage overhead leaving their emissions ringing in our lungs and driving a carbonized nail into the coffin of humanity.

We just roll over and go back to sleep as commissions and politicians say Heathrow needs to get even bigger, and it is a good idea to send an extra 260,000 planes over our homes.  That’s 740,000 a year, and a lot more pollution.

The global community points at us and laughs.  Across the world normal people, much like you and me, are in the midst of a dirty great cage fight with heavy-polluting industry.  Keep fossil fuels in the ground, under the sea, just don’t dig them up and for heaven’s sake, don’t burn them.  They’re calling for divestment and demanding politicians immediately rethink how we power our lives.

‘Nimbyism’ is no longer a pejorative term.  Communities are boycotting the construction of new oilfields, pipelines, fracking, coal plants in their back yards. This will not go ahead. Not in my name, or on my watch. To halt warming at 2°C and stave off the horror of rising sea levels, scorched farmland, unprecedented global migration and a desperate cat-fight to survive.

They pause as they charge into battle, glance over at us snuggled against the world’s biggest airport as it sets to grow bigger, and they laugh.  At us, the thesps and creatives of west London, the academics and entrepreneurs, doctors and businesspeople, journalists and teachers, raising our kids in a downy nest of coffee shops and Boden catalogues.

Emerge from under the duck-down duvet, west London!  Roll over and look at your bedfellow square in the face.  Glance at that alarm clock ticking away at your bedside.

Meeting the UK’s commitments to the 2°C characterisation of ‘dangerous climate change’ poses huge challenges for policymakers, businesses and wider civil society.  The rest of the world realise that policymakers and businesses will continue to dig for as long as we, the people, allow it.

Paris delegates left aviation out of the COP21 agreement.  So that makes us, the people, responsible to halt the rise and rise of the industry.

Heathrow is in our back yard.  This is our fight.  No more runways until aviation is decarbonised.

Another runway will lock us ever more fatally into a fossil fuel dependency that the rest of the world is laughing at.

Your voice counts, so start laughing too.  And loudly.