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My Fracking Round-Up

Roumeli Greece:2013 Tuesday 27th August, another warm sunny afternoon & I meant to post this yesterday, but I was sidetracked, by the Transparency of Lobbying Bill ironically enough.

So now the Direct Action weekend at Balcombe slips over the horizon, my MP still waiting to be charged I presume, the only item of public interest left seems to be the huge policing bill (Kaching!) which some say should not be a burden on the public, (Sign here). & I'm left with the vivid recollection of the massive police presence, rushing on the peaceful protest crowd (the same protesters the police themselves had praised, hours before, for their gentle, admirable attitude and good behaviour), with that terrifying surge of violence they use just to get things over with, okay? ; and the equally vivid recollection of Francis Egan's hurt and puzzled expression, in pride of place on the BBC news. Mr Egan, of course, has every right to feel hurt and puzzled, from his own point of view. He paid very good money. . . (well, "good" is moot, when speaking of the wealth of cash spilled out in toxic lobbying operations, but at any rate plenty of it). . . to have this little business in West Sussex; this old-time extreme draining of the dregs of a few little wells, which now comes with such a mighty industrialisation of the countryside slipping along behind it, in short, the whole fracking bonanza, rubber-stamped and shooed in, without any problem whatsoever. . .

Never mind, Mr Egan, help was on the way. A "Green" group in Dorking, that's in Surrey, north of Sussex, the next county in the firing line btw, had already come out in favour of fracking. Transition Dorking "surprised even itself" by finding that exploration and fracking may be less damaging to the environment, on balance, than importing fossil fuels.

(I suppose it depends what you think of as "the environment". Given that global warming (hence that expression, global), is a global problem, it really doesn't matter a great deal to me whether the US/UK stops using dirty coal, and sells it to China instead. I do not call that a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. As many have pointed out, it's debatable whether fracked gas really is cleaner; or even more secure, (see here and below) but as a 'clean, interim solution' to the global warming vs global energy use crisis, it just does not make sense.

But so it will go on. Brute force, dirty tricks, stunning disregard for human misery on the part of the Industry and a greedy, shameless lobbyist culture at Westminster and in Washington, & forty years from now, someone or other will finally be allowed to admit that yes, fracking always was a really bad idea; that yes, the industry was allowed improper access to government decision-making, yes, corruption was rife, shocking lies were told... It was too late for a whole lot of people who would really rather not have died of lung cancer, when the Tobacco Industry was finally (and only partially) brought to heel. It'll be too late on a somewhat larger scale, when this profitable pustule is finally popped.

What can I tell you about Loutsa-Vrachos Beach? It's twenty, twenty-five kilometres down the wetland coast of Western Greece from Parga, site of a very ancient port (now long lost), a tiny town with tiny streets, climbing up the sides of a succession of rocky coves, sort of a hot Cornwall effect; currently the resort of choice for foreign tourists. Nice, but Loutsa, on the other hand, is a fine sand beach (which you will probably know is a rare find in Greece and the islands), but this one is three and a half kilometres long, and faces west, naturally enough. Magnificent sunsets come as standard, there's also a very good restaurant called the Argo, and snorkelling bays at either end of endless flat curve. There used to be a few patches of sun-loungers, but you can't have too much of a good thing, so now, alas, there are thousands of the charmers, in almost unbroken seried ranks, which slightly detracts from the paradisical dreamlike effect. Also, you better like House music... But I do, as long as it's drifting out at gentle, chilled sound levels, and we had a very good time here, our first stop after travelling by train and ferry, via Milan and Bari, 2 days and 2 nights.

The keynote picture is from Wikipedia. Hydraulic Fracking operation on the Marcellus Shale. Coming soon to the South Downs National Park (Fernhurst).

Intercalary 2 (Transparency of Lobbying Bill)

Monday 26th August, Bank Holiday, fine and clear, going to be a warm afternoon. Countless trips to the tip and countless roof-timber bumps on my head later, we've finished tackling the loft. What a horrible chore, in the dust and the heat and the dark up there and what a dreadful frustrating mess it was, our so-called attic book room. All different now, new bookshelves in situ, and just wait until I gild the skulls and finish the decorations, when I have recovered my health. Coff coff. What a way to spend the last days of summer, but in fact I hate the last days of summer, so I didn't mind at all being forced to stay away from Brighton Beach. Have also cut down my raggedy daisy meadow, and sliced it all up for compost.

This "Transparency of Lobbying" Bill has a very scary look, and a very sneaky title. The least of my worries is that it's designed to make sure that only the so-called "main political parties" (433,00 memebrs in total) have any access to the public. It definitely does not seem to be aimed at eg making sure people who lobby on the healthful effects of cigarette smoking have to declare that they're taking money from the Tobacco Industry. It definitely does seem to be aimed at silencing the whistleblowers, & making all forms of charitable, social and environmental campaigning criminal. If they don't know what they're doing, someone, lots of someones, should tell them. If they DO, then God help us. What's going on? Apparently you can find out here:

I've emailed Chloe Smith, on the principle that you never do nothing because you don't know everything.

As is traditional, the keynote photo is of the Hungry Ghosts Moon, last week, a very clean clear white moon it was: and links to the blog where I found the image. So now the year has turned, but still my intercalary as the new term hasn't started.

Intercalary 1

Roumeli Greece:2013 Friday 16th August, grey skies, cool air and a soft rain through the morning; warmth and light coming through now. Coincidentally, grey skies, cool air and a full-on thunderstorm met us in Ioannina, Western Greece last month, the day before this photograph was taken, which we hadn't expected. I love thunderstorms, so I didn't mind at all.

Blood on the streets of Cairo as the ill-starred revolutionary "Arab Spring" descends into Terror, in the oldest continually civilised country on Earth.

Cuadrilla announce they are 'scaling back' their prospective fracking operation at Balcombe (Fields Of Gold), in the face of determined, nationally organised, Non Violent Direct Action; and local opposition. They'll pop up again. Cuadrilla have consistently treated the local authorities at Balcombe, and the regulatory authorities concerned in the permissions they've needed, with contempt. Like the leaders of our current government, they seem convinced that the people will take anything they say as gospel, and nobody can see what they are actually doing,.

I'll be staying away from Balcombe this weekend. I fully support the protest, including acts of mass civil disobedience, as long as it remains non-violent, and yet I feel for the people of the village, (not to mention the rest of the inhabitants of this lovely place) and the stress they have to bear.

Reading Experimentalism Otherwise, Benjamin Piekut. Gabriel wanted me to read the introduction to this book (about the avant garde music movement in New York in the sixties), but when I started it I couldn't put it down. Absolutely fascinating, and I was twelve in 1964, but in a weird way, I was there. The feeling that everything had to be thrown up in the air and all hierarchies dissolved reached even the faculty at my my convent girls' school (honest, it did!). There's also an analysis of the Jazz Composers Guild & all the politics surrounding Jazz vs Free Jazz, and the Civil Rights Movement vs nascent Black Power, that's amazingly like an analysis of whatwas kicking off in science fiction, in the same exact times. I kept expecting to come across Chip Delanyor Joanna Russ, but I didn't. Just Yoko Ono, and of course Iggy Pop. Penetrating, incisive art history. Highly recommended.

Watching I saw Wadjda at the Duke Of Yorks last Tuesday. It's about a little girl who wants a bike, and her cunning plan to raise the money by winning a Q'ran recital competition at her school. It's wonderful, I loved it, you must go to see it. Haifaa Al Mansour is a genius, and the cast were all amazing. The beauty of Wadjda's recitation of the sura is heart-stopping, and so painful, knowing what we know: she has been taught by her mother, who is in the perilous position of a... no, I won't spoil it. Nice blog entry from this new (to me) woman blogger I've found, too.

Also, late last night, after I'd trounced the Wind Temple boss, a rather inexplicable Spike Lee caper movie, Inside Man, featuring several high class names doing not very much, eg Jodie Foster as some kind of uber-fixer, whose whole part consists of smiling in a very superior way; repeat ad lib. It passed the time pleasantly.

Keynote image is the serai mosque, inner citadel of Ali Pasha (Byron was here, in amazing number of costume changes, circa 1809). This is another shot of the same place, in the rain, taken from the Byzantine Museum restaurant terrace. Nice time there. Once or twice on our travels I meditated a foreign correspondent blog post, but the Wifi was just too shaky. I'm still meditating publishing an account of our tour around the Roumeli here. We had some brilliant experiences. Maybe I'll get round to it.