The problem with being an international treasure is that the eyes of the world are always upon me, ever on the lookout for gossip, scandal and signs of hypocrisy. When Emma Thompson joined the first Extinction Rebellion protest she was actually murdered for travelling there by plane. When Greta Thunberg had a climate summit to get to she had no choice but to stow aboard a pirate ship, finding herself stricken by scurvy and rickets and under constant attack from the living dead. And when I drive my car to work I’m attacked on all sides by Fury Road cosplayers flinging fireballs, chains and buttplugs at me for daring to use the odd drop of petrol.
I have long wrung my hands about this. You’ll recall my recent fretting about the prohibitive cost of electric cars, my failed attempt to switch to bio-diesel, and my earlier failed attempt to save even a couple grams of carbon dioxide when buying a cheap-ass car. There’s been much dithering, but not much in the way of doing anything about it. I don’t know why. When I had my epiphany about how much it sucked to kill and eat animals I went veggie. When I had my epiphany about how the dairy industry contributes to climate change I went vegan. And when I finally had my epiphany about Michael Jackson being a big fat child molesting bastard I quit listening to him. But somehow, somehow, even as I knew petrol is killing us, even as I knew I was killing us, even as I knew it and believed it and told people about it, I kept using it.
This is one of the striking things about our dawdle towards apocalypse: How chilled we are about it, how wilfully ignorant. How seriously we nod at the climate science, how convincingly we wring our hands at the forecasts of doom, how sincerely we agree with the urgent action we need to take, and how happily we continue our fossil-chugging lives. Even me, who you regard as your lord and saviour, even I fall into this way of thinking.
People, I’ve finally had an epiphany. It was someone else’s. At an XR or Greenpeace meeting a while back one of my fellow finger-waggers said she’d got rid of her car. And she’d done it not because she enjoys the inconvenience of public transport but because cars will kill us all. Because she knew it, like we all know it. Like I know it. She shook me good and proper, just by her way of living. I’d been Zeroed! Of course! Of course I should ditch my car. Of course the inconvenience doesn’t matter. Look at veganism: If I stray more than four miles outside a city centre there’s an 80% chance I’ll starve to death but I don’t let that stop me. And of course mass transit is a better solution than another generation of privately-owned lithium-heavy electrocars. People, I’m ditching my car!
I started slowly, tip-toeing into making my life more difficult on account of how my spine fell off that one time. I did a couple of days on the train to see how long it added to an already long day, and how well I could rely on my work’s electric cars for knocking about during the day. The couple of days went ok. I bought a weekly ticket. Then a monthly Zonecard; the Glaswegian equivalent of an Oyster card, you London-centric elitist fucks. It’s taken some organising. I had to buy a new coat because it rains 4,000 days a year up here. I had to buy a rucksack because my messenger bag was murdering my spine. I tried 300 apps for live train updates and precision rain forecasts. It’s not been cheap. And it’s very definitely had the expected non-perks: I’ve been rained on a lot, the trains are often a bit late, it’s an effort to get up and out earlier in the mornings, and it’s made evening plans a bit of a faff. I stood in dog shit twice in one week.
But what’s surprised me is how easily that’s been outweighed by how much I love it. I get to read on my way to and from work, and shrug off the stresses of the day more easily. I’m more likely to leave work on time so I can catch the train. I get to feel a bit of air on my face. I get to hear a bit of birdsong. I get to kick leaves around. And most importantly, it feels right to be doing it. It feels good. I don’t eat meat, I don’t do dairy, I don’t listen to child molesters. I don’t spew petrol everywhere. And I think Emma Thompson’s worse than Hitler. Next week I’m flogging my car for scrap. I’m done. I’m out.
Although I reserve the right to buy an electric car if it gets any fucking nippier.
Photo credit: The Zero