If resident columnist Mark Beaumont's day gets disrupted by Extinction Rebellion protesters, he's planning to pull up a pink deckchair and join in
If, like me, you couldn’t care less who Jon Snow is shagging unless it’s happening right there on the swingometer, you’ll have been asking yourself just one question this week. What would make me Superglue my arse to a tube train? Would I do it to save the planet? Of course I would. If firmly affixing even a single buttock to any public amenity could reverse global warming, it would be remiss of me not to step up. Come to think of it, I’d probably do it for Cancer Research too. Or the Campaign For Clarkson-Free Wednesdays. In fact, I’m struggling to think of a cause I wouldn’t Superglue my arse to a tube train for. I suppose I’ve spent much of my life just waiting for an acceptable excuse.
I suspect the hundreds of new people signing up for the Extinction Rebellion have nobler motives than mine. Music is mobilising too: Massive Attack have been down playing to the clearing protesters in Marble Arch, and The Big Moon were out there, camping on Waterloo’s impromptu garden bridge, claiming “it’s the only thing that matters right now” like they didn’t even care about Diane Abbott necking a crafty can of posh booze in public, or the social class of Fleabag.
Thing is, it’s difficult to disagree with them. I’ve never been the most ardent and dedicated of protesters – I was the guy who looked around at two million other people on the Stop The War march in 2003, realised I wouldn’t really be missed and decided instead to spend the afternoon sacrificing my sobriety to the cause. Yet even I, were I faced with a blockade of gluegun-wielding planet-savers on my way to work, would have to stop and think ‘damn these tree-hugging hippy freaks stopping me getting to my rightful position as a minor cog in a vast capitalist machine grinding the planet’s resources to dust in the name of relentless profiteeri… waaaidablahdyminUUUUTE!’
“I suppose I’ve spent much of my life just waiting for an acceptable excuse to Superglue my arse to a train.”
How petty does it look when someone on Twitter sneers about protesters using cars to get to the protest, paper for their signs or oil-based adhesives to stick their nipples to a Pret? Presumably these Tweeters will, when the time comes, happily swan-dive into the volcanic hellpit that used to be Peterborough to help reduce the nation’s consumption of vital boiled insect rations, if the small print on their negative hours contract demanded it. These protesters have been driven to non-violent extremes in order to use the 12 years we’ve got left to tackle global warming doing everything they can to stop our children actually combusting, and you’re quibbling? You’re feeling inconvenienced? How inconvenienced are you feeling then, on a scale of one to ten, where one is having to take the Bakerloo instead and 10 is your feet literally melting into the pavement as you attempt to flee a swiftly liquifying Kilburn?
Perhaps you’re concerned for the local businesses – well, international conglomerate chains flogging scandalously priced laptops and sweatshop-produced tat so that people can look half a per cent more like Harry Styles – losing millions in footfall trade that they could otherwise be putting into labyrinthine offshore tax schemes. But I wouldn’t worry too much. They’ll still have first dibs on prime retail space in the high-security Bilderberg-only thermodomes.
Surely the only decent response to being held up by an Extinction Rebellion protest is simply to join it. You’re not getting to work anyway, so why not do something useful with your day, like trying to snatch back some semblance of a future for the entire human race? Plus, being forcibly removed by the police will be good practice for the Great Water Wars of 2032.
George Monbiot was right on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order last week: our savage, corrosive brand of capitalism needs to be dismantled and our entire species-wide mindset re-evaluated if we’re to avoid the phrase ‘ashen-faced’ having a very different meaning to Generation Scorchio. And simply asking for action clearly isn’t enough. Oil companies are well-versed in cheating elections and the world leaders they select are well-practiced in ignoring vast, organised one-day marches, since vast, organised one-day marches are notoriously tight-fisted when it comes to funding private campaign jets and watersport-friendly sex workers. I’m with Gillespie – civilised civil disobedience looks ever-more like our only course of action. And if I happen to get my arse-adhesive rocks off at the same time, wins all round.