I received a message from Bamboo Band HQ. We are requested to perform at a consciousness raising event in support of Greenpeace's Anti-Fracking campaign.
I have a vague idea that Fracking maybe a bad thing, especially if one lives in the beucolic biss afforded in the folds of the South Downs.... It would wreak havoc with the golf and may frighten the horses.
I'm against Fracking because it just seems like another dead end in terms of powering the future.
I like windmills. I like great big white windmills. If there's one thing I like more than great big white windmills it's hundreds of great big white windmills standing in the sea with ships weaving in and out of them.
Linda's a Greenpeace supporter and will stop to talk to any of the dreadlocked-crusty-trustifarians that occasionally leave their Hobbit holes in Brighton and come to do Eco-missionary work on the streets of Bognor Regis.
I'm generally sympathetic to their cause, but, having joined more than my fair share of crazy cults, I can spot one when I see one.
We arrive in a car park some short way from the rendezvous point outside Worthing Railway Station. I am in rapture. Teville Gate....
And was dystopia builded here...? As Jonathan Meades said in his series on Brutalism, "the sheer joylessness is thrilling'. It certainly is. I think it maybe because I grew up in the countryside, and thereby developed an unromantic view of the place, that I find this kind of completely urban environment endlessly fascinating. I'd have done the gig right here.
The multi-story car park is another wonder, but the sun was behind it, so I didn't take a picture.
We are early. I didn't known what to expect, but was somewhat relived not to find baying hordes of balaclava-clad Eco-warriors manning the barricades against the forces of repression bent on carving up the planet for the shareholders.
I took a picture of Linda:
I didn't notice the horns.
We went for a coffee in the cafe over the road from the station. It was as 'tradition' a British cafe as one could hope to visit... In fact it was over the top British, right down to the proprietors handlebar moustache.
I drink what I used to call a 'milky coffee', but now know I should refer to it as a 'latte' if I don't want to be taken for an unsophisticated dullard.
I read the Sun 'newspaper'. It's filled with bile about the odious PR Guru Max Clifford's fall from grace. Watch out when your hand becomes the only food left to feed the monster with.
Lord James Bamboo turns up and we decamp to the event.
We look around, can't see much going on, then I notice a small group of middle aged people in kagools shuffling leaflets. Guess who?
The activists activate by doning Greenpeace tabards and hold up a large sign reading "Stop Fracking!". The Bamboo Band twang into action:
We play for two hours solid becoming most animated when ever a train unloads it's passengers.
Then the forces of repression make their move. The station manger tells the organisers that 'the music can't be playing on Southern Rail property'. Southern Rail property seemingly defined by the perimeter of the station entrance canopy. We step outside the perimeter and start playing 'Can't Beat The Bamboo Band'.
I am upbraided by a callow youth of a protester who suggests that it was politically incorrect of me to describe the station master as the 'Fat Controller'. I explain that I am an unsophisticated dullard and know no better.
There's a more convincing protestor type with us now. He is wearing a pink hat and, I'm told, was at one of the really big protests where some nice middle class people got in a bit of a tizzy about the possible intention of a company to maybe consider Fracking in their back gardens.
I don't mean to be cynical. These are committed people that want to stop our planet being exploited for, relitively, short term gains.
Here's the thing though... I worked on an oil rig. My employers were contracted to clean it. It was a German rig, highly efficient, required high standards from the contractors.
I cleaned it to with in an inch of it's life 3 times a week. One of the crew was a Texan. He looked like he was wearing a Stetson, even when he wasn't. 'God damn!', he said at me, 'this is a oil rig sir, an' you makin' it look like a high class whore house'. And yes, he really was that stereotypical.
Why is this relevant?
It's relevant because that drilling rig was in woodlands in the Sussex Downs. Right in the middle of one of those bucolic folds. They were drilling about a mile going down and then about a mile going along.
The site puts out just over 100* barrels a day. If they got the hole right that should increase to 300+*.
(* I may have got these figures wrong, but I think the differential is about right.)
No one, but no one even raised an eyebrow.
From the Worthing Herald: Worthing Against Fracking