The Eco-Warrior

“We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.” – Kurt Vonnegut


Yeah. Agree with that in multiples of ten. It’s a no-brainer, like not eating rat poison, or making certain you step over the vomit on the stairwell this morning.

This week in the Derbyshire Dales I have become acutely interested in ecology. I did some of the first gardening of the year: chopping and hacking at living things and then dragging them to a place where I burn stuff on a semi-unregular basis. The Bishop of Birmingham (who owns the next house as a holiday cottage) offered me use of a hedge cutter, but I prefer hacking. He smiled, or was it laughing?

Ripping things up and smashing up stuff is addictive. The Bishop would never understand that kind of freedom, with his neat hedge… Pah.

Yeah, man, the sun is out, the garden is mine again, and the summer is here. Happy thoughts from a guy who couldn’t bare to step a single foot in his garden for six whole months because he thought he’d ruined it/the plants/the trees/his neighbours/his life.

But I wasn’t counting on Singapore.

This morning I found myself embroiled in a set-to with three builders who were laying gas pipes, electricity cables, and sewerage connection across a really pretty section of two hundred year old countryside near the back of my property; the scheme was a brutal land desecration by a Singapore based couple who have told many lies and offered absolutely no target at all for me to get at. I had no intention of getting worked up this morning, none at all. Even when, yesterday, they had accidentally severed my sewer pipe (not a euphemism) I was a model of DBT Mindfulness and Calm. But when I turned the corner towards my stone barn and saw the lane being raped by three ex-cons, something primal tipped something even worse over the edge. By turning up, shouting weird half-sentences, I engineered a situation so tense that the mechanical digger was turned off, one guy climbed out of the trench, and the other dropped his pickaxe in readiness. And all of it completely on my auto-pilot. The BPD autopilot has always taken me places most people haven’t even considered were on a map.

No fear ever took hold in any situation like that I’ve ever been in. Fear is always the catalyst, but it always gets usurped by anger and dies a death under a rage that has been nurtured for many decades. It’s not something I’m proud of, despite the macho overtones and the appealing nature of being a man who is frightened by little except the little things that bother no-one else – like bigfoot, the knowledge I’m the most hideous man on earth, and the postman. I don’t get a single atom of enjoyment from being like this. Believe me.

Me and the builders stood still. The next step was crucial, we all knew it. I looked at each of them in turn, giving time for eyes to make good hard contact. There was a lot of silence. I was the smallest guy there. And I was ready to fight until I was unconscious.

“We’re really sorry mate. It’ll only take a day.”

It was enough, mercifully. The autopilot took me towards my house without a word or a thought.

I went indoors and put my face in a sink full of cold water. In the mirror, a forty two year old man looked back out at me and didn’t smile. He would have to change, because the next step after something like this is the one where he hates himself and starts to turn to things that hurt him. Sometimes they leave physical scars. Or there are burns. Sometimes it just aches inside. But there is always paranoia.

No, no. Enough of that. Now the sun is shining again and I am far away from the builders and the development. I’m a cheap motherfucker who can’t relate to people, but I’m thinking of going into the Eco Business in perpetuity. Were those your eyes just then in the undergrowth?



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