ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Compared to jet-set Messi, I'm a raging eco warrior

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: Compared to jet-set Lionel Messi, I’m a raging eco warrior!

‘Code Red for humanity’ – the UN’s climate change SOS – certainly grabs the attention, even if, like me, you’re a touch lackadaisical in the green behaviour department.

No one wants the world burnt to a crisp in the next millennium, or possibly sooner, but it’s not so simple knowing what to do to stop it happening.

When it comes to the difficult decisions, we’re all slithering around, negotiating with ourselves over what is feasible, telling ourselves little lies to get around things.

A couple of months back I had to get a new car and naturally considered electric. But in the end I didn’t go for one because it was going to cost me twice as much a month on the lease and there are hardly any chargers near where I live.

After signing for Paris Saint-Germain, the first thing Lionel Messi did was be photographed in a private jet (above). There’s a perfectly good train service from Barcelona to Paris. Six hours, no changes. And on £1 million a week gross, he could afford to go first class

I justified this decision by convincing myself that I don’t drive that much anyway so I’m not doing as badly as people with second homes who clock up thousands of petrol-guzzling miles. Even though I know, deep down, that short urban journeys are exactly the type where electric cars can really help with pollution.

Then, the other day, propelled by Code Red guilt, I attempted to rinse out my empty Ecover washing-up liquid bottle before recycling. 

The amount of water it took to get the determined suds out of just one bottle was insane. So what to do? Bung it in the landfill, waste water, or risk contaminating the plastic bin with a soapy bottle?

Making such daily decisions has led to a whole pack of get-out-of-jail-free excuses. A friend argued that she was allowed a certain degree of licence because she hadn’t produced any children who would be using up Earth’s natural resources, so it surely mattered less that she was still driving a petrol car and burned the odd lump of coal.

Others are vowing not to fly – well, only once a year – but simultaneously farming herds of cattle on their land (not brilliant for the methane emissions).

A couple of months back I had to get a new car and naturally considered electric. But in the end I didn’t go for one because it was going to cost me twice as much a month on the lease and there are hardly any chargers near where I live. (File image)

Many of us pat ourselves on the back for eating less meat, but then stuff ourselves with avocados and almonds, whose production is said to be just as bad for the environment. 

Clearly, though, it’s a fact that the more well-off you are, the more damage you are likely to be doing to the planet. Larger houses to heat, more cars, more travel… just generally more stuff.

While Red Wall Tory MPs are fretting about whether their presumed less wealthy constituents will buy into the green agenda (as if, frankly, any of us have a choice), it’s up to the more privileged to set an example. Particularly the rich and famous.

Such as Lionel Messi. But after signing for Paris Saint-Germain, the first thing he did was be photographed in a private jet. There’s a perfectly good train service from Barcelona to Paris. Six hours, no changes. And on £1 million a week gross, he could afford to go first class.

My top style tip: wear a bucket

The big debate: do you pack your sunhat or wear it while travelling? There are some airline queues (Corfu, do you hear me?) where the number of straw Panamas on display rivals that outside Lord’s for the Second Test. This year’s fashionable style is the raffia bucket hat, as opposed to the floppy, oversized numbers of recent years that demanded their own hat case.

Most of us won’t be wearing the Prada and Gucci versions but cheaper options can be found in market stalls from Saint-Remy to Naples. You might run the risk of looking like Liam Gallagher, but at least it makes a change from yet another holiday basket to carry on the plane home.

Principles matter more than petitions

Asa Bruno, one of the chief architects of the planned Holocaust memorial next to the Houses of Parliament, died recently, aged 49. Far too young. His design at Ron Arad Architects was fiercely challenged by opponents on the grounds of unsuitability for the site, which is also a treasured local park.

I was invited by a local resident to sign the petition against the memorial, but didn’t because I felt too ignorant about the arguments on either side. But also because I didn’t want to be somebody who endlessly signs petitions as a friendship gesture rather than out of real commitment.

I feel bad about letting down a friend but sadder about Asa Bruno, whom I didn’t know but who I hope lived long enough to see the scheme get the go-ahead.

Anyone got a cure for formophobia?

If you don’t already suffer from formophobia, you will after trying to fill out the documents currently needed to travel abroad. Forms have never been my thing. My natural slapdash mentality means I invariably miss a box or fill in the wrong year.

But having just spent 50 minutes in the labyrinth of an online Greek Passenger Locator Form (how many times do I need to confirm my home address?), with the risk of being stopped from travelling if I mess up, I realise that if all this endless travel form-filling continues, I will need to consider treatment. 

Raised heart-rate, clammy palms, the seep of anxiety. Tick. All the usual symptoms of phobias. Can someone provide a cure, as deep breathing doesn’t help?

If Tanita’s 52, I must be properly ancient

Singer Tanita Tikaram (above) is 52? Could she really have been 11 years younger than me when she had her 1980s hit Twist In My Sobriety? I was young back then, so this news makes me feel properly ancient

The ‘Today’s birthday’ lists in newspapers always make fascinating, if disturbing, reading.

Who knew that philanthropist George Soros (91), model Cara Delevingne (29) and ex-French President Francois Hollande (67) all shared a birthday last week?

And singer Tanita Tikaram (52)? Could she really have been 11 years younger than me when she had her 1980s hit Twist In My Sobriety? I was young back then, so this news makes me feel properly ancient.

This short skirt row has raised my hopes

It’s hardly credible that Henley Royal Regatta could have banned women wearing trousers, until this year. I didn’t think such discrimination was legal.

But there’s something reassuring that this country can stage an event where skirt hemlines are still measured as a condition of entry.

The pandemic hasn’t changed absolutely everything.

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