Well, tonight took me back thirty years, I had homework. Yup, you read that right – at the grand old age of forty six I had homework. I had to write a reasoned report as to what I thought of global warming and how I felt it could be dealt with.
My daughter assured me it would take me thirty minutes tops; it took fifteen. Oh if only my own school days had been so simple; however, when she read it she thought it was great as she’d never have come up with half the stuff I did.
How did I know that China’s top three coal powered power stations emitted more CO₂ last year than the whole of Britain combined? How did I know that hydrogen cells were the best way to go to power cars as they only emitted water as a by product?
I told her that all she had to do was go to that place she loved – the internet. I knew it anyway; and perhaps that’s why I found it so simple – I know more now than I did when I was sixteen.
I mean, I might’ve thought I knew it all then; but I obviously didn’t. I’m sitting here now as I type this wondering when in the hell I grew up? Not that life’s sucked my exuberance out of me; merely I'm wondering when I realised the world ran on more than chocolate, my favourite tv show and latest celebrity crush.
But I think life does do that to you; you find yourself worrying about money, or rather the lack of it. Bills are more than just paying for that new top you wanted; or getting that bike for your birthday.
I suppose I understood that more as my parents had a horrendous struggle when I was growing up. My mum would regularly skip meals to ensure my father, who worked, had enough to eat and so did I as I was growing. She would put cardboard in her shoes to save the money of having them resoled when they wore down, and darned her stockings and clothes. But I was always well turned out – perhaps not in the fashions of the time, but I was never bothered about that.
It was only when I got older, and had my own money worries, that I realised how hard it had been for her; I was ashamed of all the times I’d nagged her for sweets when she’d had to skip meals to ensure our food lasted all week - or when she’d had to sell something to pay the rent because my feckless father had stolen it again.
Kids don’t understand the trials of adulthood, so they’re always in such a tearing hurry to grow up; I know I was. If they did know, I doubt most would be so keen on the idea. Some kids, such as my daughter, understand it a little because they’ve grown up in poor families. She, like me, has watched us struggle to pay for things; not to the same extent as my poor mum did, God rest her, but certainly struggle none the less.
I bake my own bread, make my own pies and cakes; I cook meals from scratch because the ‘ready meals’ are so expensive. I watch films on tv because it’s a lot cheaper than the movies; I can’t remember the last time I went to a proper restaurant, probably before my daughter was born.
I sew and make my own clothes, cut my own hair (I recommend wallpaper scissors as they have a long blade) – though that’s not for the fainthearted or those who can’t face being seen when it goes wrong – my daughter’s hair (trimming only) and my husband (clippers); I alter clothes myself too and make things where I can.
‘Make do and mend’ was the war time battle cry for housewives and kids like my mum; she taught me that and now I’m trying to teach my daughter. Our disposable society doesn’t work when you don’t have the money to replace what you disposed of.
Ironically the credit crunch will probably save the world; because the West, and a lot of the rest of the globe, is no longer being the ‘material world’ that Madonna adored. Waste will fall as people throw less away; cars will be driven less apart from essential trips, people will fly less as holidays become too expensive for most.
I’m waiting for the UK government to recommend pony and traps for rural families, horses for those needing transport to work in those same areas and ploughs for the fields instead of tractors.
I don’t think we’ll need to worry about a pulse from the sun sending us ‘back to the Stone Age’ one day. Our governments, in the West at least, are doing that anyway.
Mind you, I’d be interested to see where the people in the flats in town would put their ponies; I mean you’d need a pretty big window box, wouldn’t you?
This is Simi, thanks for reading.......