Friday, 30 December 2011


Why is a good question to ask.  Why am I putting myself through this?  Why am I choosing to live a life like this?  What makes someone do this and how does it fit in to the wider world?

First off, I am not a super environmentalist.  I trust science to tell us stuff that we know at the moment - that what might change in the future, though.  At present, science tells us we are in a period of global warming and that it is probably man made.  Until they have evidence to suggest we're ok, or come up with a bunch of solutions that make that go away, then I will attempt to do my bit.  This is part of my bit.

Another thing I am not is a luddite.  I work in technology and have been fascinated by it since I was a young person.  I think technology is part of the solution to mans problems.  However, I think part of the solution might also be to look back at the way we used to live and re-consider that in light of todays context and problems.

For example, agriculture was a main part of life in the UK until relatively recently.  And the way that agriculture was done fitted in with the land and the people and the wildlife and the place.  It gave employment to a large chunk of the population, although the living was hard and problems great.  It was like that because they didn't know any better.

At some point, agriculture left the people and the land and became something that it shouldn't be.  It became a business and something more akin to a factory, than something that was born out of the land.  We have followed a path that has ruined the land, its fertility and productivity, and instead we have to chemically enhance the land to get things to grow.  Production is a lot higher than it was in past times, but at the expense of the land and the people that used to work it.  I think there must be a better way by reverting back to the way things used to be but using science and engineering to provide a better way to feed everyone.  I have no evidence of this, or figures, but I think we once fed our nation, are we seriously saying we can't do it again?

I am not against, for example, GM - genetically modifying plants is something we've done for hundreds of years, albeit through selection rather than in the laboratory.  However, one size doesn't fit all, and the need to help defeat famine in Africa is not applicable here, yet.  Arguments for GM and massive globalisation in order to feed the planet don't necessarily apply to all the planet per se.  Again, this is more opinion than fact, but it's what I think.

I have always been a fan of self sufficiency and not depending on anyone else.  I am a fan of off-grid and would, if I had the money, investigate power solutions if I could.  Growing my own, and working for myself are goals that are quite high on my agenda.  However, in the past, I haven't managed this.  I also think it is not a path I'm expecting everyone to take.  This isn't a replacement for agriculture, and in fact, I don't intend to not eat food grown outside the uk.  For a start, I won't refuse what others give me, if I visit, and I can't do without certain foods - spices for a start, sake and miso for others.

Living a virtuous life is also kind of appealing to me.  What the hell does that mean?  Most people who know me as the lazy eedjut that I am will probably be laughing right now.  However, I am a bit of a loner.  A monastic life is one that appeals to me, for instance - a life that is hard and sparse but rich and quiet.  I like concepts like wabi-sabi, which I think fits in with my aesthetic sense, but which I think is also about the way you live your life.  Being a wood-fired potter, I have kind of been forced to think about these things, and the more I look to Japan to find out what they think, the more I find that it's much like the way I think too.

A life of cycles and routine and repetition appeals.  A life of seasons too, and eating and living within those constraints is, I believe, the right way for me to live.  I have tried to do just that - I try to buy british produce that is in season.  I won't eat an apple or a pear, when I can eat a strawberry or a raspberry.  I'm not interested in eating asparagus at christmas, because it would take away the joy of eating asparagus for those few weeks that it is in season.  Too much of a good thing makes the good thing no longer good, in my opinion.

Anyway, there you have it.  Some of my crazy head thoughts, at 3.30am on a Saturday morning when I can't sleep.  I might try and explain some of these things a bit further, at some point.

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