I was just about on my knees having run down Victoria Avenue to try and catch a bus that would never come – these boots were made for walking, but never for running, as I had found on the first leg of my fruitless sprint from Camp Bling where I had been joining in the 3rd anniversary celebrations of this road protest site in the middle of an Essex town. There wasn’t much more I could do as I realised the last bus home had left just five minutes before; so I called up my wife to get the number of the nearest taxi firm, and then called up the taxi firm themselves so that I could get back home.
The fare came to Â£16, which was bad enough in itself, but for me the worst of it was that I could have got the bus had I left the camp ten minutes earlier. No matter that the driver of the bus on the way there had told me the wrong return time; no matter that our car is collecting more spider webs than grit in its tyres – well, that’s the matter, really: I have made such a personal crusade of the way I live that any diversion from the rightous path is a failure. So I feel guilty, when perhaps I shouldn’t.
It was reported in the news this week that the worst polluters in Britain are, not surprisingly in my eyes, those who carry out the highest level of superficial environmental acts – recycling, changing light bulbs, that sort of thing. Their guilt is safely put out with the recycling, whereas if you really believe in what you do then guilt is something you carry around with you, and let out of the bag each time you treat yourself to a takeaway pizza or, in my case, buy a loaf of bread rather than bake one myself.
That feeling is what keeps me going on a day to day basis; it’s very low level and, because I really do try and walk the talk, doesn’t come out very often. It’s all relative, though, and overall I feel pretty good about my life – as you should too, if you have really made some serious changes in the last year or two. After all, I don’t wake up in the morning, safe in the knowledge that what I do will cause the deaths of thousands of people; or the destruction of a tract of rainforest; or the edging up of the global temperature – I leave that real guilt to the politicians and CEO’s who, if life was at all fair, would feel that guilt bludgeon them round the head every time they opened their mouths or signed their next contract with death.