Hardly a day goes by without some news report relating to climate change: bush fires in Australia; floods here and elsewhere; temperatures beating records; aircraft companies on the verge of going bust. What’s that? What’s the story of Flybe got to do with climate change?
Well, of course, flying is one of the important contributors to the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. A short hop by plane is equivalent to driving many times the distance by car Currently almost nothing is being done to reduce the carbon foot print of flying – low taxes, little chance of using renewable energy on an appreciable scale, cheap holidays abroad. The shoring up of Flybe’s finances by reducing taxes on intra-UK flights goes against the government’s claim to be green. But the government says we need more UK flights to increase “connectivity”, which apparently, was one of the Tory government’s pledges in the general election. Not many people benefit from the UK flights however, certainly not the ordinary working people who voted Tory. Unfortunately you cannot claim to be combating climate change and support frequent flyers.
There is an answer to increasing connectivity and reducing flying emissions – better railways. Not the expensive, fast and hence wasteful, HS2, but a modern, efficient rail system serving the whole country.
I’m not sure whether even a better rail network should be the priority unless it is part of a determined effort to get people out of their cars as well the out of the planes. Cutting use of fossil fuels must be priority 1.
Young people get it – non-binary genders and transgender, that is. This week I’ve talked to a number of young people – that’s mainly people in their 20s for oldies like me. I have generally been impressed by their knowledge of the issues facing non-binary and trans people and have few problems with the concept of being neither male nor female or expressing one’s identity. Nurture is having an effect. Not that is nurture by their parents and elders but by their contemporaries and their contacts on social media and the internet. Older people, while expressing acceptance, often still miss the point and still want to put you in a male box or a female box. Anyway, it makes me optimistic that as the older generation pass away, new generations will not see gender as an issue, whether its sexism in the workplace, transphobia or male and female lavs.
Because I was elsewhere for our weekly writers’ group meet I didn’t attempt this week’s task. Who went “tut, tut,”? But I have made a start on the new Jasmine Frame novel. It may not be the best writing method but I have put fingers to keys and written the first couple of thousand words while still researching the background of one of the characters and planning the interwoven plots – at least I hope they will be interwoven. I find that it is as I write that issues become apparent and the characters themselves, well Jasmine principally, take the story forward. I know some famous authors say they do not plan but allow the story to develop. I’m not sure whether I believe them but it is a fun strategy.
In the meantime, here is something I wrote earlier. As it is still, just about, panto season, Cinderella – the Prince’s Story is appropriate. Lots of writers re-write fairystories and I don’t think this one is especially original, but it’s a bit of fun. Being nine years old it is also slightly dated – how many of the references have had a fall from grace?
Cinderella – The Prince’s story
It was my party; it should have been me making the headlines; me, the most charming, attractive and talented prince in the kingdom. It was all arranged. The ball would be held in the largest and grandest of my palaces and all the top celebs were invited. The TV cameras and photographers would be there to see me dance with Beyonce and perhaps have a kiss and cuddle with Cheryl.
Of course, being the “People’s Prince” I had to invite a lot of common people to fill the ballroom. It was a bit like an episode of Dr Who actually, all these fearful clones wearing the same cheap copies of Lacroix and Stella gowns bought from those high street shops. But I waved and smiled and they all cheered and blew me kisses. Two of the ugliest women I had ever seen somehow got through the barrier. They tried to hug me and give me kisses but my minders got rid of them.
Everything was in full swing with the band playing, when there was a huge cheer and the whole crowd stopped watching me. One of my men told me that one of the A list celebrities must have arrived because a huge pink open top limousine had driven up the drive with motorcycle outriders. I couldn’t think who it could be. The paps deserted me and ran to the entrance just as she stepped through the doors.
I must admit my eyes nearly jumped out of my head. The dress she wore was indescribable and no designer I knew could have produced it. It covered where it should but revealed her tremendous beauty. From a distance it just grabbed your attention with its shimmering colours and shapes, but when she got up close, the dress just focussed mine and everyone else’s eyes on her face. Her black hair shone and her eyes twinkled with joy. I stared at her for many moments but then my gaze travelled down to her feet and that’s when I saw her shoes. They seemed to have been carved from two massive Schwarovski diamonds, the soles stacked and the heels high as high could be.
I looked again into her large blue eyes and we talked. I was so taken by her conversation that I almost ignored the cameras going off all around us. Then we danced, and talked some more and danced again. There seemed to be a magic aura about her that drew me to her. There was no moment when we were alone but I soon felt as though I had known her all my life although at no time did she mention her name or reveal who she was. After dancing a slow number she came into my arms and we kissed tenderly and chastely on the lips.
And then something happened. I think I heard the old big clock on the tower start to chime, midnight I suppose. She pushed away from me, said something like “Oh, f***,” and ran off leaving me standing there. The people around us parted to let her through, but soon she was lost in the crowd. It all got confused then. Most people didn’t see her leave although a few said they saw a girl running out of the palace looking dishevelled and wearing a tatty dress. Others said they saw a girl getting into a minicab, but no-one seemed to see the girl in the designer dress. There was one clue though – one of her fantastic glass shoes was found on the steps of the palace. One of my men brought it to me. I held it in my hands while the journalists pressed around me asking questions
“Who was she?”
“What did I think of her?”
“Was I going to marry her?”
“How would I find her?”
That was the question that troubled me. I wanted to see her again because quite simply she would get me the media’s attention. I made a few phone calls. Max Clifford was eager to represent her. He was sure that the fashion mags would pay millions for photos of that dress. Simon Cowell suggested a TV series to search for the person who matched the shoe, ‘Britain’s got feet` or ‘The Shoe Factor`, I think were some suggestions.
I got on to a friend who had appeared in CSI a couple of times. I was sure he would have a bright idea and I was right. Get the shoe tested for DNA, he said, then do a search of the database. Sure enough, we soon had the name of a family matching the DNA fingerprint. They were the Hardups. I was told they lived somewhere out in the country.
We set off in my Bentley with Sky and ITN and Hello and OK! following behind. It took hours before we drew up at this crumbling mansion. There was only one servant, some twerp who said his name was Buttons or something equally stupid. He showed us into the drawing room where old man Hardup sat on a threadbare sofa. He jumped up when he saw us and all the cameras. My man explained why we had come and took the shoe out of the stainless steel box he kept it in. Hardup called out and in seconds two of the gaudiest, ugliest, women came in. I recognised them as the pair who had stalked me at the ball. They were his daughters, Hardup said. They insisted on trying the shoe on although I knew it couldn’t possibly be one of them that was my unknown princess. Of course their feet were too hideously large to fit. It turned out they weren’t even Hardup’s own offspring, just his step-daughters. They went into fits of sobbing.
“Is there anyone else?” I asked, feeling somewhat impatient.
“Well I do have my own daughter,” Hardup said.
“Well where is she?” I asked.
“But it could not be her,” Hardup went on, “she wasn’t at your ball.” The two grotesque sisters agreed vehemently.
One of my men leaned close to me and reminded me that the DNA match was definitely with the Hardup family.
“Nevertheless, summon your daughter,” I commanded in my most regal voice. Quite a few minutes passed while the girl was fetched, apparently from the dark recesses of the old house. She entered the room a timid little thing dressed in old scruffy jeans and a grubby t-shirt. She looked nothing like the vision of beauty I had danced with a few days before.
My man handed her the shoe and she slipped it on as easily as if it was made of the softest leather. The journos went wild. Cameras flashed, everyone started speaking. Someone dragged the girl to her feet – or foot, it was difficult for her to stand on just the one shoe. The reporters urged me forward and I felt that I had to oblige. I stood next to the girl who was looking dazzled and scared. While flashlights went off in my face I wondered what on earth I was doing. What should I do or say next? Did I want to spend the rest of my life or at least a portion of it while we sorted out the divorce, with this girl?