Since the government has moved the goalposts to leave me a year short of a State Pension and a bus pass, turning 65 this week is actually no great shakes. As no one under 65 would say*. I shall continue to clash colours and patterns and wear big earrings and wine-red Doc Martens (vegan). The 65-year-old Sue will be doing more hugging than I managed at 64, not just because the pandemic restrained me then but because I have THREE grandchildren now, all small enough for the moment to fit together on my lap. I intend to be a more active activist, and would like to take part in direct action as newsworthy and fully justified on many ethical levels as the blockade of Newsprinters at Broxbourne last September. Currently scheduled for two trials in my sixty-fifth year, I aim to defend myself in court with more strength and less trauma than I did at 63. Having been very little use to a refugee charity for a while, without events to organise, I will hope to contribute more in the next twelve months to the work of Herts for Refugees. In September I will be protesting against the London Arms Fair, which represents an obscene surrender of morality by rich nations, including big boys UK PLC who strut their greedy stuff in the arms dealers’ playground, and there’s much more to learn and understand about racism and white privilege. Will I write or sell any books worth mentioning? That’s doubtful, and it’s a shame, but I can live with it. I couldn’t live without being a Rebel – and I don’t know how much longer my body will equip me, or how much the needs of loved ones will prevent me.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, I don’t know how little time humans have to avert catastrophic changes to life on earth – in the form of more and more deaths and disasters. And that’s terrifying. The climate and ecological crisis is infinitely more shocking than governments and the media like to intimate, and the truth – as broken by the impending and leaked IPCC report, the International Energy Authority and climate science as a consensus – is that unless we abandon fossil fuels before I’m 66, the world’s children will be unable to count on a future free of chaos, food shortages, violent weather events, cities under water and unlivable heat. And I don’t kid myself there’s all that much I can do about it.
I began this piece unsure where it would lead – apart from the usual painful conclusions. I’m not too old to look forward to my birthday. I honestly don’t want any presents, but if anyone bought my fundraising XR book, REBELLING FOR LIFE, or one of my charity picture books to support young refugees, I’d certainly have something to celebrate. It’s wonderful that I can be with my children and grandchildren, and my remarkable mum, on or around July 9th, and a meal out with Leslie at Cochin in Hemel Old Town will be a genuine excitement. I’ll hear from friends and feel blessed. The world will still be sick and at grave risk, and I’ll still need my Fluoxetine, but I hope I’ll remember to ‘dance’ the day awake with prayerful gestures of peace, love, truth and justice, because it helps.
In the spirit of ‘All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth’ * I’d be jubilant if the battery for our electric cargo bike arrived, so I can cycle to see my family. I want a change of government, the CEE Bill passed, Ecocide enshrined in international law – with Southgate for PM, Rashford Home Secretary and Caroline Lucas their living spirit guide. In the absence of which, we all need Extinction Rebellion to grow in courage and unified purpose, in strategic and creative genius as well as numbers. And that includes those who call us wankers, or politely disapprove. I hope that at this advanced age I’ll find some clarity about the part I must play, how far I am prepared to take civil disobedience and the right time and place to act effectively as well as boldly – while mindful of the need to do better as a wife, mum, daughter, sister, grandma and friend. And to take more time, every day, to be still and open to the Light of God and/or Love that inspires, illuminates and sustains.