What if …

You wake up one morning and find that you are someone else?

Your well presented, three-bedroom semi, with fitted kitchen, conservatory and south facing carport in Apple Blossom Drive has fallen through a crack in the ether and now you live on a mountain in Ireland. You have no money, no Renault Clio, no bank card, no I-phone. And what’s more, you can’t go shopping, you don’t have access to the internet and there’s no gas or electricity, because now you are part of an off grid community?


For three days you sulk, but in the end hunger and loneliness drive you outside. In this parallel universe, you have  been keeping bees, growing vegetables and looking after a horse. But what about your promising career in Data Analysis?  You weep. For days. But the cat sitting in a patch of sun cleaning her paws is singularly unmoved. She is your cat now and her name is “Amira Paratas” which roughly translates as friend who catches rats.

You often wake to the sound of birds singing. At other times you waken to rain falling in sheets and sometimes the storm doesn’t pass for weeks and your world becomes entrenched in cold, damp, clingy, colourless, mud-spattered hopelessness. Then you wake up again … and the sun comes out. You step outside of the person you used to be and take a deep breath of crisp, clean air and there is work to be done.

Perhaps it was always like that.

For example,  last week you helped to plough the fields … with a horse called Paddy, a bow-legged farmer called Robert and an old set of ploughshares … rattling amongst the dirt and stones and coaxing the field back into life. Now the ploughed earth stands in gentle furrows, dark and textured and ready to be planted. Its a good feeling. You are inexplicably warming to this life. The things you do have become real and meaningful  and  you wonder what it really was about Data Analysis that mattered. Even the long drop is not as bad as your sophisticated expectations led you to assume.

And so this off grid, community based existence becomes your life and the ebb and flow of the natural world becomes your parameter. Then, after many years, you wake up and you are back in Apple Blossom Drive.


The TV is on and the washing machine running full blast and the car won’t start and apparently there are 7 billion mouths to feed. Scientists are studying something called climate change and the honey bees are at their wits end trying to raise colonies under impossible circumstances whilst the minister for Blah Blah Blah and the Environment dictates the fate of badgers. There’s nobody to bail you out if your life falters anymore, and some pompous old nut job has written an editorial in the Daily Something or the other, showing why we cant afford to look after the environment because of the economy.

Chasing spurious environmental targets will make us uncompetitive and drive up cost”  The Rt Hon Owen Helmet agrees, puffing out his chest,  “There is a sensible and practical alternative to tackling the environmental challenges our world faces.” He has the data to prove it.

You think he might be totally mad.

Rachel  www.sharpeningpencils.co.uk

In the media, a frame is essentially the context in which a story or piece of news etc is presented. In some ways, the informational content of news  is less important than the interpretive commentary and context that attends it. For example, politicians and the mainstream media tend to frame current affairs in relation to the economy.

Money has taken a very defining position in all of our lives, to the point where it becomes quite difficult to think beyond this frame of reference.   We judge environmental issues from an economic perspective, when it should be the other way round. It’s all about the way we see things and the stories we tell 


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