Posts Tagged ‘extinction’

Five Bridges: XR – 17 Nov 2018

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

COP26 was in some respects a great disappointment, or rather would have been had we expected very much to arise out of it. But there were some advances, and just a slight glimmer of hope that it may prompt a little more progress in our efforts to save our future on the planet. But that it happened at all and in the way it did is very much down to the efforts of people on the street to raise awareness of the realities of climate change.

Without groups that have been campaigning for years we would have no hope at all, and whatever people think about some of the policies of Extinction Rebellion, it has been one of the more effective movements in bringing the message to the attention of the media, politicians and the public.

Even in the unfortunately toned down words of the COP26 final resolution, the message from the banner in the assembly at the top of this post is now clear: ‘FOSSIL FUEL ERA OVER’ though it still remains to be seen if it can be brought to an end fast enough for us to survive.

On Saturday 17th November 2018, Extinction Rebellion rebels managed to block five of the bridges in central London: Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Southwark. It was an ambitious project that brought much of London’s traffic to a standstill and gauranteed extensive media coverage. You can march 50,000 through London and it won’t merit a mention on the BBC unless windows are broken or police injured – but this was something that could not be ignored, and despite the interests of the billionaire media owners, at least some journalists began asking the right questions and writing the right answers.

I tried to photograph events on as many of the bridges as possible, though with no buses able to run in central London this involved rather a lot of walking. In the end I failed to make it to Lambeth Bridge, where some of the more robust actions by police against the protesters took place.

Here’s my description of XR from one of the three posts I made about them that day:

Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent rebellion against the British government for its criminal inaction in the face of the climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse which is currently on course to make human life extinct. They demand the government tell the truth about the climate emergency, reverse their inconsistent policies and work to communicate and educate everyone, that they bring in legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and reduce our consumption of all resources, with a national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes and create a real democracy.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2018/11/nov.htm#westminster

More protests will be needed around the world to make politicians do what needs to be done – and I was photographing Extinction Rebellion in London last Saturday when they protested in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.


My day was made busier as there was another unrelated event taking place that I also wanted to photograph, a Unity against Fascism and Racism march from the BBC to a rally in Whitehall calling for unity against the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK, with a level of support for fascism not seen since the 1930s. I missed the start but spent around half an hour taking pictures as it came down Regent St.


More on all these and more pictures on My London Diary:

Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts
Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo
Extinction Rebellion form Citizens’ Assembly

Unity Against Fascism and Racism


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Extinction Rebellion Climate Protest 2018

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

Protesters in Parliament Square on 31st October 2018 heard speeches from climate activists including Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy, Labour MP Clive Lewis, economist and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, before making a ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ against the British Government for its criminal inaction in the face of climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse.

Three years ago British campaigners were particularly inflamed by the almost total lack of any measures in the budget to meet the impending catastrophic climate change, and three years later we can say the same about last week’s budget. Sunak still seems to be intent on growth and business as usual, encouraging road building and air travel and there was little or no mention of any green initiatives, something of a pre-COP26 sabotage of stated government policies.

Reading the Declaration of Rebellion

But as Thunberg and others made clear, we have seen some rhetoric but totally inadequate action so far to meet the challenge and the Extinction Rebellion protest made this clear in its ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ against the British Government for its criminal inaction in the face of climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse.

Schoolkids get it – and it led to Greta’s protest outside the Swedish Parliament which has inspired many around the world. Even some of our media are beginning to get it, but governments around the world, including our own seem reluctant to actually make the kind of changes that are needed. And although some MPs speak out, neither Labour nor Conservative parties have embraced the kind of policies that are necessary to avert mass extinction.

Its a shame that many on the left have devoted rather more energy to criticising the actions taken by Extinction Rebellion rather than getting out and doing something positive, with few others organising protests and direct actions. XR have done a lot to raise public awareness and the vicious reaction to their protests with the government pushing prosecutions against them and a draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently in its final stages in Parliament , and threats to rewrite the Human Rights Act and to hobble judges have shown the true colour of our Tory government as we move towards a police state.

After reciting the ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ the protesters moved onto the road and sat down to block it and continue the rally with songs, poems and speeches, including by Caroline Lucas MP and George Monbiot. There were several votes during the sit-down when protesters were asked if they wished to leave the roadway as police were threatening to arrest them which resulted in a near-unanimous show of hands in favour of remaining.

As George Monbiot finished some of the protesters began to leave, and several activists stood up to encourage people to stay behind on the road and be arrested, and several groups continued the protest, including one circle with protesters linking arms including Donnachadh McCarthy and George Monbiot. Police surrounded the group, and then arrested the man to McCarthy’s left, coming back a few minutes later to take McCarthy away – and he later published an account of what appeared to be a symposium on climate change he conducted in the police van. Monbiot shortly after got up and left, apologising to those remaining that he needed to collect his children from school.

The arrests continued slowly, and there was still a group on one side of the road who had been locked together for some hours who police seemed to be largely ignoring and were still there when I left, along with others still sitting on the road.

I have low expectations for next week’s COP 26. We will get more promises to add to those which have already not been kept and not the real shift into action that the world desperately needs. Of course I’d be delighted to be proved wrong. But this side of a revolution I think it unlikely that the ultra-rich can be persuaded to change their ways.

Many more pictures at:
Extinction Rebellion roadblock
Extinction Rebellion rally

Cake, Yacht and Dodo

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

The cake came outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) where PCS members who work as cleaners and catering workers were beginning the first ever indefinite strike at a government ministry, demanding they be paid the London Living Wage, and get decent conditions of employment.

It was the third anniversary of the founding of the BEIS, and also the third anniversary of the campaign to get the workers there decent pay and to be employed directly by the BEIS, rather than outsourcing companies ISS and Aramark whose only concern is cutting costs to the bone by exploiting the workers so they can undercut competitors for the contracts and make profits at the workers’ expense.

A crowd of around a hundred supporters was there to cheer the strikers when they came out of the BEIS to begin their strike and there were speeches from trade unionists including PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash, and UCU’s Jo Grady as well as then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP and some of the BEIS workers. I did manage to get a piece of the cake before I had to leave for the Royal Courts of Justice.

Extinction Rebellion had brought the yacht to to court to begin their ‘Summer Uprising’, another series of protests in five major cities against the criminal inaction by the government on climate and ecological collapse. The yacht was named Polly Higgins after the Scottish barrister who fought for years for an Ecocide Law and had died of cancer 3 months earlier, only 50.

When I arrived some kind of new age ceremony was taking place with people bringing water from across the country to pour into a large bowl and a Druid celebrant in long white robes. It’s one of the kind of things that makes it hard for many to take XR seriously as a movement.

But of course it is serious and the crisis that we face is existential. An ecocide law would be a powerful way to restrain some of the worst excesses of companies that are driving us to extinction. There were some good speeches at the event, with some very clear thinking, but also a few which made me cringe a little.

Eventually it was time to march, with the pink Dodo and the yacht, making our way across the river towards Waterloo where XR was to set up a camp on Waterloo Millenium Green.

There really is a climate and ecological emergency, with too many species going the way of the dodo, and we do need governments to tell the truth and make real and difficult actions to halt what seems an inevitable slide into irreversible heating which will make the world uninhabitable for many species, probably including our own. It’s time to end the kind of lip-service which has our government setting targets long into the future while ramping up disastrous policies like Heathrow expansion, road-building and coal mines.

The yacht went with them at the back of the procession, which halted for some time to block Waterloo Bridge, remembering the many arrests there in the previous XR protests, before continuing. It was then stopped by police on Waterloo Rd, causing far more rush hour traffic chaos than necessary by completely blocking the Waterloo roundabout. Eventually they were allowed to continue and occupy the green space they were heading for, but by that time I had left and walked into Waterloo station to catch my train home.

XR Summer Uprising procession
XR call for Ecocide Law
BEIS workers begin indefinite strike


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Extinction Rebellion and more

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion (XR) began 11 days of protest which initially brought most of central London traffic to a halt on Monday 15th April 2019. They didn’t manage to keep up the protest until “the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency” as we have yet to see that two years later, but they did considerably raise public and media awareness about the severity of the problem the world faces.

Unfortunately there seems to be little chance that effective action will be taken in time to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2015 as they demanded, though perhaps the half-hearted measures that will come out of the delayed climate summit later this year will do just a little to slow the rate our our planet’s decline, possibly enough to see my life out, though I worry about the future of my children and despair for that of my grandsons and daughters.

XR have now very much lost the initiative, mainly I think because of internal dissensions, perhaps inevitable because of some of the rather odd characters that they attracted. But some of their ideas, particularly over the police and arrests cut them off from many on the left who attacked them as a movement funded by shady capitalists and led by wacky idealists, more a Glastonbury festival than a political movement. Much of the criticism was ill-founded but not all.

The major effect they had on our government was for them to put pressure on the police to get rid of these pesky protesters – first by more arrests and prosecutions and now by the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill to give the police greater powers to control all protests.

Early on the Monday morning, XR protesters set up camp at a number of key locations in London in a well-planned exercise. I turned up rather later to take photographs, first at Waterloo Bridge, which XR had turned into a ‘garden bridge’, blocking all traffic and bringing flowers and trees. There had been arrests earlier, but police had been unable to stop the protesters and the bridge – despite many further arrests – remained closed for over a week.

Because of the XR actions traffic all around the centre of London was at a halt, with buses not moving. Fortunately the tube was unaffected and took me to Oxford Circus, which now had a large pink yacht at its centre, named after the Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated for her activism in 2016. It was here that I met the dance troupe dressed in red that were such a visible presence in XR protests.

XR were not the only environmental game in town, and I took the Underground to St Paul’s Cathedral for a protest organised by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front, Earth Strike and London Students for Climate Justice. I arrived when there protest was due to start, but there were only a few of them present. I hung around for half an hour or so, and then gave up and left. Later I saw the accounts of their protest which did eventually attract a small crowd and was sorry I’d missed the action.

But there was rather more happening at Marble Arch, one of London’s main gyratory systems, where XR had blocked Oxford St, Park Lane, Edgware Road and a couple of other routes and had set up a stage, workshops and a tent village as well as the road blocks.

But XR had also planned an event for Parliament Square, where the roads around were blocked for a New Orleans funeral procession with jazz band to make its way around the square.

The funeral was perhaps also designed as a diversion for some more direct action, which I again missed at the Shell Centre on the South Bank. A small group of activists daubed slogans across the front of the building and two occupied the glass porch over the door. The activists had deliberately broken the glass in one of the doors, with the intention that this would result in a trial before a jury rather than by magistrates, enabling them to present the reasons for their action, and three had been arrested and taken away by the time I arrived, but the two were still up on the porch and others holding banners on the street in front.

My day had not quite finished as I made a small diversion on my way home to visit Brixton, where staff, families and children from children’s centres were protesting against plans by Lambeth Council to close five centres and make drastic cuts at seven others. The council had recently spent £68 million on refurbishing the Town Hall and building a new Civic Centre.

Save Lambeth Children’s Centres
Extinction Rebellion at Shell
Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession
Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch
Anti-capitalist environmental action
Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus
Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Socialism is Survival

Friday, May 29th, 2020
Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’

In 2008 Richard Wilkinson wrote an opinion in The Guardian, ‘Follow Cuba’s emissions standard‘ in which he states:

“According to the WWF, Cuba is the only country that has managed to combine an environmentally sustainable footprint per head of population with an acceptably high quality of life as measured by the UN Human Development Index. And if Cuba can do that without the latest and most economical technology, how much easier should it be for us?”

Follow Cuba’s emissions standard

Part of the reason for this is, as he also states, that resources in Cuba, though relatively limited are shared much more equally than in market-led democracies such as the UK and the US. He makes the point that material differences between people are destructive, reducing well-being and quality of life and leading to many social problems, and that wealthy societies such as our should be concentrating on reducing inequalities rather than pursuing economic growth.

Cuba Leads the Way

To put it simply, we already have enough, and the important thing is now that everyone gets a decent share. We don’t need exact equality, but we do need to avoid the kind of indecent excess we now see, with the rich with more money than they can ever sensibly spend and the poor unable to afford decent food and safe housing, with too many sleeping on the streets or in overcrowded properties, often with little or no security of tenure and too many in jobs on less than a living wage and often zero hours contracts.

Smach Capitalism! Save Our Planet!

The biggest challenge we face as a world and as a nation is of course not the largely irrelevant matter of Brexit but climate change, and inequality also drives that – both directly by the senseless consumption of the ultra-rich and the poor quality environment of the poor, and indirectly by the encouragement to consume of living in the same society as those who feature most largely in our advertising and media coverage. We are going to have to make huge changes to survive, cutting down our footprint on the world’s resources to perhaps a quarter of the current UK levels, a change that it is hard to see a market-led capitalist system adapting to. And while Wilkinson suggests it should be easier for us, I think our current wealth and political system probably make it impossible. At least without a real revolution.

The Solution is Socialism

The Revolutionary Communist Group put it more starkly and simply than Wilkinson: “Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’ but also base their conclusion on the closest we have in the world to a socialist state, Cuba. Despite punitive economic sanctions imposed by the USA (and perhaps sometimes as a result of them) Cuba under communism has made enormous strides in some areas, producing universal literacy and one of the leading health services in the world – and its medical services are one of the country’s main sources of foreign income. Increased life expectancy – to values similar to much rich countries such as the USA and UK – in a roughly static population is now presenting familiar problems. Energy use has remained relatively low with per-capita consumption only around a quarter of that in the UK.

Of course that isn’t the whole story, though it is perhaps difficult to know exactly what is, as all sources of information about the country reflect considerable bias. Many in the RCG have been to Cuba and seen the country at first hand, but what and who they saw will to some extent be affected by their own political affiliations and those of their hosts. Much of the more commonly spread information in the media comes from émigrés who left the country because of their dissatisfaction with the situation and the regime, or from anti-communist individuals and and capitalist organisations.

‘Practically Perfect In Every Way’

Castro and his guerrilla band took the country back from one of the worst and most corrupt governments in history, a dictator who had seized power in a military coup in 1952, but haven’t managed to eliminate corruption – though it is now said to be is the 60 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries by Transparency International. It would be hard not to admire a country which has withstood the sanctions and intrigues of the USA for so many years. Castro himself was apparently the target of over 600 assassination attempts by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency but died of natural causes in 2016.

You can read more about the protest and rolling picket outside various temples of consumerism on Oxford St at Cuba leads on climate say RCG.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Strength in Grief

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

With so much bad news around I hesitate to write about a funeral, but in October Extinction Rebellion held their ‘Strength in Grief’ rally at Marble Arch to express their profound grief at the extinction of species taking place due to global warming and which threatens the future of human life, and followed this with a funeral procession along Oxford St.

We are now facing another great threat to human life, one we are all personally threatened with, and many of us are at particular risk from, some because they are having to work closely with people suffering from coronavirus, others because they are particularly likely to die should they catch it. As someone in the high risk category, though not with governmental ‘extremely vulnerable’ status I’m worried and also isolating myself as much as possible.

The XR rally and march took place on the anniversary of Colombus landing in South America, truly a black day for the population of that continent, bringing disease and exploitation. While some celebrate Columbus Day, for many others the 31st October is the Day of Indigenous Resistance, and a number of the speakers reminded us of this. Climate Change has already killed many in the Global South.

While in the UK the lack of preparation has been a matter of government policy, part of their programme to run down and sell off the NHS through the back door to private health companies and their more general cuts to public services and local authority spending, for many countries it is impoverishment through centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism that has left them unable to cope with the current pandemic.

The UK is one of the world’s richest nations – thanks in large part to our imperial past which fed our economy and fertilised the inventiveness of which we can still be proud. I grew up in the immediate post-war period when the experience of the war had led to the realisation that we had to work together as a society. From that came secondary education for all, the NHS and the whole welfare state. I hope COVID-19 will have the same galvanising effect as we can’t afford to go back to ‘business as usual’. The world needs to wake up and ‘Face Up to the Problem’. I hope I’ll still be around to see it starting to happen; at least I’ve not yet had a letter from my doctor with a DNR form, though it could still come.

More pictures at XR Strength in Grief Procession.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


XR Westminster

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

I don’t know who these two men were, striding purposefully with their document cases but I think they had emerged from a government ministry and they were probably making their way to another or possibly the Tory party HQ. It’s possibly quite unfair, but to me they seemed to epitomise the reason why we are in the situation we are in, a determination to carry on ‘business as usual‘ when it is quite clear that to survive we need drastic system change. We can’t trust men in suits.

XR were protesting across Westminster, and it was hard to keep up with what was happening at I think eleven locations, but I did quite a lot of walking around and taking pictures, with a pretty total shutdown of all the roads in the area. Police made movement a little more difficult by setting up some road blocks of their own, which seemed totally pointless but made my job more difficult when they wouldn’t even let me walk across Lambeth Bridge although I showed my press card.

They seemed also to be making the very occasional and almost totally random arrests, picking on small groups or individuals when hundreds were blocking roads. It seemed a simply pique at being unable to control the situation of mass peaceful civil disobedience.

Although it was taking place in London, the XR protest was not a London protest, with the huge bulk of the protesters having come into the city from small towns across the country. XR has been very successful at motivating a largely white mainly middle class and highly educated population but rather less so with the urban working class, and there were far fewer from London’s ethnic communities than at most London protests, and who are well represented in movements such as the Youth Climate Strike and of course anti-racist and anti-fascist protests.

It will of course be the poor and those who have to struggle most to make a living in our cities who will be the first to suffer as the effects of global heating kick in, just as it is the countries of the majority world who are now feeling it most severely. But perhaps it is hard to persuade people who are living in precarious situations of the efficacy of the kind of apolitical and non-violent approach that appeals to XR supporters.

More at Extinction Rebellion occupy Westminster.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Students Strike for climate justice

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

The young get it, and inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg as well as the words of David Attenborough and the overwhemlming conclusions of scientists, school students around the world are coming out on the streets to demand yhat governments take the necessary action to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and act in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the IPCC report, though many recognise that even these are insufficient to deal with the problems we face.

Fridays for Future London started out as a small group, but now together with Youth Climate Strike and other groups there has been an impressive turnout for protests taking place during a Friday in school terms. Some came with parents or grandparents and there were a few other older protesters, but the great majority were with others from their schools and school classes.

Notable by their almost complete absence were the mass-produced placards of so many protests, produced by left groups such as the Socialist Workers Party or Socialist Party. Clearly the climate catastrophe is now a major inspiration for the work of school art departments as well as many obviously home produced posters and placards.

The protesters are deadly serious about the existential crisis they face, with messages on some posters addressed to the older generations who run our country like ‘YOU will die from old age – WE will die from Climate Change’ but there are many more humorous though also deadly serious.

If the world was run by the youth it would have a future. But unfortunately it is largely run by the old and extremely rich. Billionaires who largely can’t see beyond their immediate short-term interests and are doing very well from business as usual. They’ll be OK in the short-term when the sea-level rises or we get more and more storms and floods, when millions (or even billions) die in the majority world and thousands in countries like ours.

Of course in the longer term even the filthy rich will suffer. They are huge hoggers of resources, particularly those made by the poor who mine the metals, grow the crops etc. The world doesn’t need the rich, but the rich do need the rest of the world to support them.

More pictures at Students Strike for climate justice.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


March to the common

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
The banner ‘Are We The Last Generation blocks the main road for the march to take place

Lewisham Council’s web site records that Blackheath’s common has played host to more than its share of:

  • rebel gatherings
  • military encampments and exercises
  • royal meetings
  • religious festivals
  • sports
  • fairs
  • circuses

and a host of other activities.

And it goes on to list some of them, including Danish invaders in 1011, Wat Tylers anti-poll tax rebels in 1381, Jack Cade’s rebel yeomen in 1450, rebel Cornishmen in 1497 and John Wesley who preached there.

2009 Climate Camp general meeting at Blackheath

It fails to mention the chartists and the suffragettes who met their, or the Climate Camp with whom I travelled there in 2009, recorded their setting up and later returned to photograph.

Clearly it is an area that has a strong association with rebels over the years and so it was highly appropriate that South East London Extinction Rebellion chose it for the location of their two-day festival  on Global Climate Change.

I went to photograph their march from Greenwich to the festival site, and almost had to leave before it began, as the samba band which was to play a major role in bringin it to the notice of people in Greenwich was around an hour late in arriving.

I stayed with the marchers as they blocked the main streets of Greenwich and made their way up into Greenwich Park, climbing with them most of the way to the top of the hill before I had to leave and run downhill to catch a train back to central London and the next event I wanted to cover.

XR Rebel Rising March to the Common


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


We need an Ecocide Law

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Though I fully support the aims of Extinction Rebellion I do have some issues about the way they go about things. I’ve mentioned before some of the odder ‘New Age’ baggage, and that was very much to the fore when I arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice with some kind of druid presiding over a ceremony with people bringing water from rivers around the country (and some overseas) to tip into a large cauldron.

And then there’s the yachts. I just don’t inhabit the kind of milieu where people have yachts, though I did once own a canoe, or rather a kayak. I built it myself as a teenager in the pre-glass fibre era, a wooden framework over which some kind of rubberised canvas was fixed. It’s construction took several years,mainly because I had to save up the cash to buy every next step of the construction, first the plans, then the wood and ply and the canvas.

I was proud when I had it finished, built in my father’s large shed – where he and his father had made carts and other horse-drawn vehicles. But I’d run out of money and couldn’t afford a paddle and it was a long way to any water and I had no means to transport the canoe even to the nearest stream where it could be floated.

It was I think around 18 months later that a relative kindly strapped it to the roof of his car and we made our way the the Thames at Runnymede, along with single paddle handmade from a couple of pieces of wood (again from my father’s shed.) Although I’d been in rowing boats and possibly larger Canadian canoes as a Sea Scout, I’d never been in a kayak before, and it wasn’t longer before I wasn’t in it any more, but looking up at it through perhaps ten feet of murky Thames water from the bottom of the river. I think that was the end of my canoeing project, and after that I stayed on dry land and rode my bike.

So my relationship to water was not perhaps the most sympathetic as I watched those people coming towards the cauldron to add their half pint, and things got worse when people were invited to stir the water and make wishes and then to add flowers and other stuff before the cauldron was carried towards the court and then a token libation poured on the ground.

Of course there were other things going on, including speeches (some very sensible and to the point), music etc. But when a man came to speak about how uplifting his experience of being arrested had been and to encourage us all to do it, again I was rather turned off. Too many of my friends over the years have been harassed by police, fitted up and assaulted; arrest isn’t generally a very positive experience, particularly if you are poor and or from an ethnic minority. Like much about XR I think it is very much a class thing.

But of course we should have strong laws that protect the environment – including the Ecocide Law that Polly Higgins, after whom the pink yacht here was name, fought to get accepted for many years. More generally we need laws that get away from the idea of the land as private property and recognise it as a community resource with which we are entrusted rather than we own.

XR call for Ecocide Law


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.