The big dry continues (32.2022)

I’m wondering if it’s fair of me to think sometimes that the human race really has outlived its usefulness. If I were the owner of this planet, I would be thinking serious about issuing a 30 day lease break notification, telling the human race, You have 30 days to tidy things up – shut down the nuclear power plants, make safe the mines, bring all the boats and submarines back into harbour – because 30 days from now, all of humanity will get very tired all at once, and lie down and go to sleep, and then turn to dust. And without us stuffing about with the climate, the planet can start to heal itself.

Is it wrong of me to want to switch off all of humanity? Is it better to do this quickly and painlessly now, rather than let the children of today grow up to be adults who have to fight over water and food? How many generations are we away from a post-apocalyptic Beyond Thunderdome feudal kind of existence?

Tina Turner as Auntie Entity in Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome. Hopefully in the dystopian future we don’t all have to wear dresses made out of metal kitchen scourers.

The hot British summer is grinding on. We are watching grass and shrubs and even trees shrivel in the heat, and we talking about these long hot and dry stretches as “the new normal”. My creeping concern is, will this hot and dry summer be followed by a wet and cold winter? As temperatures become more extreme, will they be extreme at both ends of the season, not just summer? And with energy prices scheduled to jump 2x or 3x by year end (maybe it’s more – I can’t bear to follow it), how will people keep warm if this winter is as cold as the summer has been hot?

There is a prospect of thunderstorms this week. I’m watching the clock and window anxiously today to see if rain will come as predicted. If it is I will run outside and enjoy being rained on. The country is no longer “green and pleasant” – it’s brown and crispy. The source of the Thames has dried up. The news is reporting stories from the effects of the dry conditions all across the northern hemisphere – the melting glaciers and emptying lakes that have revealed skeletons and crashed planes .

The west of the country is managing to keep some green but the rain coming in off the Atlantic seems to have tailed away over the middle of the country leaving the east dry and crispy. (c) Bloomberg

Just a few weeks to go now until we fly southwards to Kenya and much to my relief we have received our Kenyan visas. The supposedly ‘simple’ online visa process is anything but, and has involved a lot of back and forth with the tour company (who gave us the wrong border crossing town name and potentially incorrect information about how a single entry visa is actually a multiple entry visa despite none of the Kenyan government websites saying anything about this), as well as resizing of our passport photos and our passport information pages (which both had to be uploaded) along with converting our airline and hotel booking confirmations to a document format that would allow us to upload it… It was a tedious and stressful process but it’s done now.

I have read Out of Africa (Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen), I have read West With the Night (Beryl Markham), and I am now reading a third and final connected book from that period, Too Close to the Sun, a biography of Denys Finch Hatton by Sara Wheeler. (If you’re confused as to who that is, he was played by Robert Redford in Out of Africa).

Much as it’s nice to wallow in this idealised white colonial literature, I realise I also need to read modern Kenyan authors to get a better perspective. So I’ve set myself the challenge to find a bookshop during the brief pre-tour time in Nairobi and get myself some books by modern Kenyan authors.

I am trying to maintain a positive outlook for our time in Nairobi but the references to it as “Nairobbery” due to the high levels of petty crime are worrying. Some friends even suggested we just stay in our hotel when in the city rather than go out and try to sightsee. This kind of thinking, letting the bad guys win if you like, means you miss getting to know a place at the small risk of experiencing crime. I’ve walked around Rio and Buenos Aires on my own; I’ve taken the night bus home drunk and alone in London; nothing happened then. Does that mean it is more likely to happen now or does it mean I live under a charmed umbrella?

What I’m really dreading is 11 nights camping. My family were not campers of any description. Camping for me is more frightening than anything Nairobi could hold in store. Putting up tents, taking down tents, cooking for the group over an open fire (even if with the instruction of the highly experienced tour leader). Do you know how many tourists are attacked by lions while camping? More than one. And not all of our campgrounds are fenced campgrounds. In some places we are camping in open territory, guarded by Masai warriors. It is a stupid thing to worry about but that’s how my mind goes sometimes.

Rain update: we had about five minutes of fat heavy raindrops slapping against the dry ground… and then they stopped. It is cooler now but that little bit of rain was not even enough to dampen the ground. Here’s hoping there will be more rain tomorrow.

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