We brought some more logs in to feed our log-burner this afternoon. What with stories of oil being stolen from peoples’ outside stores due to rocketing prices we have to be grateful for the one saving grace of wood: it is both heavy and bulky to shift. Our house also lies at the end of a long-ish drive and is fairly discrete.
In a sense, though, what a selfish comment this is: Why should we be so chuffed that we have got enough land for a continual wood supply whilst others are vulnerable to what used to be known, back in the 1980s as ‘fuel poverty’? Both current and past governments have cemented many people to a gas supply which comes largely from Russia, and from a regime which they might say they had some disagreements with, ideologically. Yet there they are, these politically opposed (as it were) people, made vulnerable by successive UK governments, to any cut in supply from Russia. No-one who regards themselves as an independent political thinker can fuel themselves from Russia: they should all be using wood-burning stoves. But this is a difficult philosophy: I head tell of one person last year who spent £1000 simply on buying wood for his stove.
But this gas-dependency comes at a time when Britain should have been pushing ahead with rigorous standards of housing insulation, meaning that people wouldn’t necessarily have to commit large amounts of what used to be spending money simply to energy supply. We could look to Germany and the ‘Passivhaus’ standard they are implementing … But then, amidst morbid thoughts of social unrest I am suddenly interrupted by the marvellous sight of a bullfinch, bright blowsy pink, just outside the window, sitting atop a hawthorn sprouting from a hedge. “Victory”, I inwardly think: the land on which our house sits is a great combination of relatively neglected scrub and common, and there is the bullfinch, sitting there, symbolically, and in a way, rather like the songthrush which appears from time to time, the shouting statement of a rich natural environment. Well, what I mean to say is simply this: ‘a place wealthy in nature’. And we have continued the neglect wonderfully, powerfully, and with quite deliberate intent.
Copyright Gerald Dawe 2011: