Drumming up interest in popular art of protesting
Have you noticed that a protest isn't a protest these days unless it's led by a band of great hairy Earth Mothers thwacking drums? Whether the gripe is Tory cuts, the badger cull or a simple runway extension, they'll be there, faces painted, tie-dye skirts a-swirling, thumping away for all they're worth.
They probably learnt the skill – if that's the appropriate term for the simple act of knocking seven bells out of something – at a workshop at Totnes or Glastonbury, but now take that art out into the wider world to spread the message.
And they've certainly been banging that message home for the past few weeks at Balcombe in Sussex, site of a proposed fracking site. Trespass, demonstrations and general civil disobedience all accompanied by the music of those fearsome ladies.
By now you'll be sick to death of listening to the pro and anti contentions surrounding fracking so let's not go into them here. Suffice it to say that one side fuels its arguments on science and logic, the other on mung beans and holistic healing.
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But despite that the huge media coverage the protest has been highly entertaining, not least in the way it has revealed two major changes in the nature of demonstrators themselves. Jarrow Marchers these are not.
First of all, those drums. Very military, very aggressive. Far from soothing the savage breast they actually stir up the loins. The sound of them in the Wild West always meant that the gallant chaps of the 7th Cavalry were about to meet their doom and when the thin red line of the British Army went into battle, drummers were always in the van. And just think how the clash of a drumstick on skin can get both sides spitting and shouting when it's heard in Belfast during marching season.
The instruments are basic, primitive and scary. But then, I suppose, that is the point.
The second phenomenon thrown up by the daily coverage of the antics at Balcombe takes us on a massive leap from low-tech to hi-tech. The mobile phone and all its variations.
When there are periods of inaction TV reporters are forced to fill the airtime by delivering long pieces to camera, always with some brightly painted yurt in the background, complete with the familiar "frack off" slogan. Wandering around this tent will be half a dozen or so similarly decorated protesters – and you can bet next week's wages that at least half of them will have a phone stuck to his or her ear. "Can you see me, Zac? I'm on the telly!"
Then, once something does finally get under way, the gadgets are out again, this time in hands held high not to threaten or show solidarity, but to get a few frames of something to place on Facebook or YouTube.
The irony clearly escapes them. There they are, coming together as caring human beings prepared to give their all to protect the environment against international capitalism which is ready to destroy the planet in the name of greed, but all they do is join in the game. Do they ever think about the whopping great open cast mines in some of the world's most sensitive spots that are used to provide the rare metals that run the things, the sweat shops where some are made, or the carbon footprint left by getting the latest model shipped across oceans?
They probably never consider the colossal amount of electricity used to cool the banks of computers where the information they gather is stored. Let's hope fracking finally gets going or we'll all run out of power very soon.
Computers and phones apart, it seems that every advance that mankind makes is something to be abhorred. Actually, it's every advance made over the past 500 years and you get the impression many won't be happy until we are all living in dark hovels existing on nuts and berries.
Funny to think, though, that when we finally get a world in which everyone is vegan, no one drives a car or takes a foreign holiday, medicine boils down to sucking on a valerian root and all food must come from within a quarter-mile radius of home, they'll all have to give up their mobiles. What will they do?
However, if that day does arrive I for one, used to 21st century comforts, will get proper miffed and will take up the cudgels of protest. If I can get hold of a drum, that is. And an Earth Mother.