Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's not easy being green

Now there’s a nip in the air, it isn’t much fun round Grange Girl’s house. ‘Put the heating on?!’ she shrieked, as though I’d suggested she perform the dance of the seven woolly scarves. ‘You just need a couple more layers.’

Grangey, I noted, was wearing enough clothes to win a Michelin Man lookey-likey competition. She also had one of those Tibetan ear-flap hats that don’t suit anyone from Wickle.

Pells Boy, sporting a donkey jacket and balaclava, rolled his eyes like an exasperated IRA man when I asked him what was going on. ‘10:10’, he said.

‘Oh, 10:10’, I replied, cluelessly. Was that when you could see really well? No, that was 20:20. No, wait, wasn’t 10:10 what those motorbike cops in Chips used to say to each other?

We drank lukewarm tea made from tap water. Apparently boiling kettles is definitely not 10:10.

‘My consciousness was raised’, said Grangey, ‘at a meeting last week at Lewes Werks’.

She explained that 10:10 was a pledge to cut your carbon emissions by 10% during 2010. There were so many tens in this explanation I was forced to have a biscuit. Meanwhile, Grangey demonstrated a gadget which showed her electricity usage. It was fascinating. When she put on a light, the meter jumped a tiny amount, but when she boiled the kettle (taken briefly out of its cupboard exile), the numbers went into orbit and an air raid siren went off. Pells Boy dived under the table and Grangey unplugged the kettle with a satisfied smile.

‘Lots of people and organisations are taking part’, she said, putting her hands in the fridge to warm them. ‘Waitrose, even.’

‘It must be all right’, I said, ‘if Waitrose are doing it.’

Pells Boy dusted himself down. ‘So what did they say at this meeting about local initiatives?’

‘Ooh, lots of things’, Grangey said, showing off her 10:10 metal tag wristband. ‘Um. We’re going to see if the Sussex Express will dedicate an issue to it.’

Pells Boy examined the tag covetously. ‘That would look good with my “Make Poverty History” wristband’.

‘I’m doing well’, Grangey said, ‘apart from driving to work. I’m car-sharing but of course that doesn’t count because I’m still using my car.’

‘Hang on’, I said, ‘aren’t you reducing overall emissions by giving someone a lift who would otherwise drive?’

‘Exactly’, she said, ‘he’s reducing his, but I’m not reducing mine.’

The cold must have addled my brain as I felt something was wrong with this but couldn’t say what, exactly.

Pells Boy stood up. ‘Better get going. Got to pack for our half-term trip to Disney World. God knows how we’ll keep the kids amused on a nine hour flight.’

There was a frosty silence after he’d gone.

‘I walked here’, I said to Grangey, hoping to cheer her up, but she was frowning.

‘It is quite parky, isn’t it?’ she said. ‘Perhaps I will put the heating on after all.’

Beth Miller, 20th October 2009. Published in Photo by Alex Leith


  1. Actually now winter is upon us (Ha) I have just remembered how to beat the 10:10 challenge.
    1) find an unemployed friend/good book
    2) Spend the whole day at Cafe Nero

    Not only does this mean you don't have to put your heating on, you also don't have to send the meter in a spin by putting the kettle on. I think of cafe's as a kind of bus - lots of shared carbon use.

  2. Now, I don't want to come over all Lynne Truss but I'd just like to say it's a good thing that misuse of the apostrophe doesn't contribute to an individual's carbon emissions. If it did Grange Girl might have to spend a second day in Cafe Nero. Which reminds me, when the aforementioned chain first appeared on our high streets, a friend of a friend was convinced the sign read 'Cafe Nerd' - a far better name which I urge you all to adopt.

  3. Forgot to sign off on that last comment. Should have said it was from Bucks Boy.


  4. Funnily enough noticed the apostrophe straight away when re-reading this comment before reading yours BB and had an inward shudder at my carelessness. Perhaps I was unconsciously hoping that people might think this blog a kind of down to earth thinking space; they may have though otherwise given the general perfection of Beth's writing.
    p.s. note correct use of the semi-colon and subjunctive BB and kneel at my feet...

  5. I am on my knees as I type, GG


  6. OMG, I managed to miss a 't' on the end of thought and you didn't even pick it up, BB.