Thursday, 3 March 2011

May you live in interesting times

The title of this post cropped up in conversation this week. It was used in jest and so unfortunately I didn't get to utter any counter curses, but it did get me thinking. 

In 2006/7 I began to read about peak oil and the economic unravelling that would ensue. I had assumed that it was a decade away and that there was plenty of time to prepare on a personal level. In January 2008, we found ourselves expecting our first child. By that summer, the world experienced its first oil shock in over 20 years. Food riots broke out across the world. By the autumn of the same year, economic instability turned to full blown collapse, bailouts and sovereign debts; and grandad was reading his newborn grandson bedtime stories from the financial pages of bank collapses and share price falls. Then for a year or so, at least in the UK, everything went rather quiet. House prices rose once again, unemployment rose conservatively considering the scale of the financial bubble that had burst, inflation wasn't taking hold and the oil price had collapsed. I had thought at the time that this was 'the big one' and was amazed that everything turned back to to normal so quickly.

On reflection, having discussed the state of the universe at some length with armchair philosopher types over pints of home brew, we realised that something was going to give. The only question was what and when?

Today I find myself 22 weeks pregnant with a daughter conceived just as the sleeping dragon began to limber up once again last autumn. Once again I am pregnant at a time of immense turbulence. By July, when our daughter arrives, I imagine that things will be coming to a head if they haven't already. In the last few months, food prices have once again risen to record highs. The entire Middle East is undergoing a revolution that was inconceivable to most a year or so ago. Oil prices appear to be heading for a spike once again. Major natural disasters have devastated communities and agricultural regions across the world at a time when the financial resources to deal with them are becoming more scarce.

The world looks an infinitely more interesting place in 2011; and for the last few months I have wavered between exuberant hope and extreme anxiety for what the future holds.  My children will probably not grow up in the relatively stress free world that I have, where we just assumed that we would find ever shinier, newer, energy intensive solutions to solve all of our environmental and social problems. In all likelihood, it isn't going to happen; and on many levels that is terrifying. On the other hand, as in all crises (right up to the final terminal one) their lies opportunity. Some things will fade away, losses will be suffered - and then new things will replace them. I don't believe that a huge, terminal apocalypse is on its way; which means that there must be wiggle room to create something...interesting. Interesting in a good way, not in a fake Chinese curse way.

A few days away from the Internet focusing on everyday things has done me the world of good. Preparation is a good preventative measure against despair real or imagined. Today I knuckled down to seed sowing and allotment planning (more of which another day), laundry and tidying, all whilst drinking in the sunshine. The nesting instinct is strong this time around and with a tidier (though still not tidy) house apparently comes a tidier happier mind. Best to get all the hard work out of the way now, before I become too fat and heavy and grumpy to move further than between the sofa and the biscuit tin, I think.

Incidentally, a quick heads up. If in future years you see me sporting another baby bump (although highly unlikely) - pay attention - with my track record on timing, it's probably time to run for the hills, or at least duck and cover for a while.

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