Sunrise on a Monday morning and I spy trouble ahead for the manicured tranquillity of a Cambridge college. Trinity, one of the richest houses of learning, has become the latest target for the media razzmatazz of an Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest. A local group autonomous group have abseiled into notoriety, storming the council chamber and blockading a road within the city. Now they protest against the destruction of nature by appearing to do the same. The proposed loss of Innocence Farm in Suffolk, owned by Trinity, is their source of ire as it too appears to be destined for a digging up of its own to make way for a lorry park.

A porter looked on as part of the lawn, finely combed to within a whisker of the topsoil, becomes a series of mis-shapes of muddy lumps. But this was not a live bed show of flowers. The sods were deposited in the bank across the street, strewn across its floor as customers carried on with deposits of a more mercantile kind.

This is hardcore campaigning. A far cry from the eco-activists of the flower power movement, Paul and Paula from Mile End, who’d party hard wearing little more than their underwear and a pencil skirt and would have danced, and sung, and planted flowers, and rolled along the turf to proclaim the countdown to an environmental apocalypse. Something changed and a different class of campaigner appeared, one crying for the babies of the future and the fear for their lives. Paul and Paula are now Ptolemy and Portia from the local P.T.A. The world is on fire and this is now everybody’s problem to rail against the masters of the universe with the apparent urgency of seconds to spare.

Critics argue that destroying the environment is not a solution to saving it. XR say the Trinity grass is lip-gloss, a bad cover version of monoculture devoid of real nature that would be better replaced by the trees or wildflowers. After you have seen the lawn battered to a pulp, and even if you only have a little soul for XR, remember this is for done for the common people. Don’t lose it.

(c), 18 February 2020 (with apologies to Pulp fans everywhere).


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