Saturday, September 12, 2009

For the sake of a conker . . .

Have you a moment for a chat? If so, may I tell you about a conker?

Rupert and I have just returned from a walk in Holland Park. It was perfect. Not as hot as it was yesterday . . . gentle autumnal sunshine and a slight breeze.
Rupert headed eagerly up the path leading to his favourite seat. Mind you, now that he's a little older, his movement, at its fastest, is still quite a relaxed pace. We strolled peacefully along, rustling our way through the fallen leaves.
Walking is what man was meant to do, it's our right speed. Walking allows time for looking, and thinking, and cogitating. What's more, it cuts down on the chance of making rash decisions.

Which reminds me . . . what did you think of the the plans for a new high-speed train to Scotland? How much time did they say it was going to cut off the existing journey? I think it was an hour-and-a-half!
All that cost, all that disruption, all that loss of countryside, just so that people could arrive in Edinburgh an hour and a half earlier than they might have done!
For goodness' sake, why? What would the passengers do with the precious ninety minutes that they'd gained? Ninety minutes that could have been spent enjoying a good book, or quietly appreciating a privileged view of the unfolding British countryside.
Why, I often wonder, do we all seem hell bent on going ever faster and faster? To save time for what? Just to rush somewhere else? And what happens when we arrive at our next crowded destination? We bump headlong into all those other people who, like the rest of us, are ceaselessly on the move!
Why . . . ?

As Rupert and I were walking up the path, something shiny caught my eye in the fallen leaves. It was a beautiful, glossy conker. I looked down at it and I couldn't help feeling sad. What chance was there of that conker ever fulfilling its promise? Of it growing into a chestnut tree and reaching maturity? It would need at least two hundred years. Has our planet got two hundred years? Well, yes, probably our planet has. But maybe not its wonderful diversity of created wildlife . . . including us. Would that conker ever grow into a tree that would give shade to our descendants?

If left where it was, I knew it hadn't a hope. The space for trees in Holland Park is only limited. If left there, amongst the leaves, its only future would have been as a snack for a squirrel.
On impulse, I bent down, picked it up, and put it in my pocket.

Stupid it may be, but do you know what I'm going to do? I'm planning to take it to the country. As a token of faith in man's capacity to come to his senses before we cut off the overloaded branch we're sitting on, I intend to plant this conker on Box Hill.

So . . . for the sake of this small seed's future, we must come to terms with climate change, solve the problem of population explosion, realise that speed doesn't necessarily equate with happiness, accept that bombs and bullets are no longer the answer (if they ever were), recognise that man cannot eat or drink money, and learn to appreciate and cherish all aspects of this fragile, inter-dependent, wonderful world.

Not much to ask for the future of one small conker?
No, not when you seriously think about it!