Four days after the end of the fast
10pm and I've just scoffed two chocolates that were surplus from a batch I made for Christmas gifts. I guess this is back to normal now.
By day seven, my last day, I was feeling pretty weak. I would do some tidying up and then think, I'll just have a little sit down. After five minutes, I could get up and do the next thing. But it didn't really get harder to stick to the fast as I went on. There was something about it that got easier: habit, I guess. I felt pretty sure that I could have gone on if I'd chosen to, a notion that I found strangely chilling.
The hunger strike had done its job of providing me with a platform beyond the Extinction Rebellion bubble to get across some sense of the existential crisis we are facing and what more Brighton and Hove Council could do to address it. I'd been in both local papers and been interviewed on the breakfast show of BBC Radio Sussex, however it was always that Council meeting two years on from their declaration of a climate emergency that was to be the culmination of the action, giving me a chance to make a speech to the full council.
I'd written the speech a couple of weeks earlier, got feedback, tweaked it and honed it. I practised it out loud, checking it came comfortably within the allotted five minutes and trying out different emphases and phrasing. Not a natural public speaker, I was going to be relying on the text rather than my delivery to do the job.
It had been more than twenty years since I'd attended a council meeting. Now the councillors were around my own age and I could see them as public-spirited people doing their best, cutting the odd corner, and managing their public responsibilities in between supporting both teenage children and aging parents. People like me. Not the enemy. Not faceless.
There was a space for deputations near the beginning of the meeting. The space felt like a box: fenced off, safe, but too separate from the lives of the other people there. Still, it was something.
So, I read my deputation. And as I read through the familiar text, I consciously tried to inhabit it so that it wouldn't be just words. When I got to the "one thing you can do right now," I felt myself welling up. Reading "That is to tell the truth about the seriousness and urgency of the crisis. First, tell the truth to yourself. Then tell yourself again. Then tell your family and friends. Then tell the people of Brighton and Hove," made me wonder if I could get through it without breaking down into incoherence. But I struggled on in that about to burst into tears squeaky, breathy voice. I think I could have pulled back and disengaged, but I let the emotion through. I wonder if making apparent that emotional load that I'd been hauling round since the IPCC report in 2018 could help get the message out the box and under the skin of those public-spirited people gathered remotely in the virtual town hall. Who knows? Glad that I've tried.
If you'd like to read the deputation, here's a link to paste in your browser: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vspVbuEwKBpDcCycnPFIUcSz3Hr4Sx22BmgltfHHmko/edit?usp=sharing