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Worn Out With Worry

In a world run ragged

A frayed Ukrainian flag 6 months after Russia’s invasion
A frayed flag fluttering above Hospital Lane, Portchester (source: author)

August is a time for reflection, for catching up on reading, a time for sitting back and putting a whole heap of stuff into perspective. It could also be a good time to get some breeze through my brain before the start of the new term. It could be all those things, but my eye is caught by the faded, frayed, fluttering, flag above Hospital Lane.

That flag was new in February, proudly proclaiming solidarity with the people of Ukraine. It was not alone — six months ago, my morning walk included three — but now it hangs forlorn, battered by winds, rains, and intense heat — reminding me of Buddhist prayer flags that are strung about remote Himalayan settlements shedding their threads (and global messages) to the four winds.

August has brought more than enough issues to worry about — searing heat, hose-pipe bans, melting ice-caps, government ungoverned, an energy cost crisis long before seasonal demands for more heat at home, and small businesses falling apart without even the benefit of any price cap. Pack your bags and head to the beach — but don’t swim or breathe, or fish, or dare relax your guard against the prospect of some debilitating bug caused by the stinking pollution of raw sewage. Is it any wonder that people are restless?

With no visitors, no excursions, no gardening duties, and a deep aversion to televised Tory rat racing, the cool study became my August refuge. Reading takes precedence — only later in the month will I turn my hand to publishing, but that altogether different battle will wait for September. My chosen tome is no fictional escape but an immersion into the reality of a vital topic that seems to have missed the attention of those now vying for a prime spot in Downing Street.

Published just as temperature records were being laid waste, Bill McGuire’s slim volume, ‘Hothouse Earth’, has the mind-stretching qualities of Dr Who’s box — vastly bigger on the inside. The bulk of this ‘Inhabitant’s Guide’ was written in 2021 with only later updates during the long road to publication. Bill himself describes his work as ‘blunt’, ‘grim’, and ‘realistic’ but not ‘alarmist’ — not least because the dreadful awfulness described is not hype but rooted in hard science. To survive, to overcome the consequences of our polluting practices, we must have a clear sight of what we now face. Ignorance is folly and ‘fear should not feed inertia’.

Reading, absorbing, ‘Hothouse Earth’, humanity is diminished in the whole planetary perspective. We clever cogs are wrecking the world and continue to imagine that we own the place. Only by understanding this context will we begin to truly ‘know our place. But this is not a book devoid of hope. There are and will be, many opportunities for correction, but addictive habits must first be kicked, and delinquent dogmas refuted if our grandchildren are not to curse our legacy.

So much now depends on the next generation of leaders — which is why this book should be packed in thousands of school satchels as required reading and a reference source for their pathways beyond schooling. We may be worn down with worries, but this is no time for giving up or giving in.


‘Hothouse Earth — a survivor’s guide’, by Bill McGuire — pub: ICON Books Ltd. ISBN: 978–178578–920–5

This article forms part of ‘Bruno’s Blog’ and is listed here on Medium in ‘Portchester: the place I call home’ — a Groupe Intellex publication.

Update: (11th September) Within a few days after publication the frayed flag was replaced by a new version, but has since been temporarily replaced with the Union Flag at half mast in honour of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.



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Groupe Intellex

Groupe Intellex

David Brunnen on Governance (Communities, Sustainability & Digital Challenges} PLUS reflections on life in Portchester — the place that he calls home.