I went to the library with Auntie Gertrude, a relative from Australia who is staying with us for a (long) while.
I sat at a table with a couple of volumes which I needed for my research work and started making notes quietly. Auntie Gertrude sat next to me reading a magazine. A few minutes later a small man came at the table and sat beside her with a few books which he started reading and making cross-references in his notebook.
A few minutes later he turned to Aunt Gertrude and said “Do you realize that all the time I’ve been sitting here 500 square miles of rain forest have been destroyed?”
Without batting an eyelid Auntie replied “Then I suggest you don’t sit here cobber!”
“Are you interested in the environment?” he asked her.
“I’m interested in a quiet environment in which to read my magazine in peace” she replied somewhat harshly.
“Do you want to save Mother Earth?” he continued enthusiastically not having taken her point to heart. Before she could reply the man continued, “Take births and deaths for instance …” he said. “Births and deaths … it’s a question of balancing the two … Do you realize that every time I breathe in and out someone in the world dies?”
“You should try a different mouth-wash mate!” replied Auntie as quick as a flash. I smiled inwardly and said nothing. She is well able to fight her own battles and for once her attention was not directed at me.
He ignored her and proceeded with another fact “Every 30 seconds or so a woman gives birth to a new baby!”
“Someone should stop her before she gets too exhausted,” Auntie Gertrude retorted in her Australian accent, “now if you don’t mind I’d like to continue reading.”
On our way home in the car Aunt Gertrude commented that she was reading an article about the environment and saving the planet whilst we were in the library. She told me of plans to build a wind power facility somewhere and the inhabitants were protesting against wind turbines being erected in their locality.
“Why do you think they’d do that cobber?” she asked.
I explained that wind turbines tend to spoil the view, especially in the countryside; to which she promptly replied without thinking, “Why don’t they bring them out at night when there’s no one there and take them away in the morning?”
I was struggling for a diplomatic polite answer when she continued, “Either that or disguise them as windmills. Everyone likes windmills; they are so romantic.”
I smiled and said nothing.
“We should also harness solar power,” she continued, “that and wave power, in fact any movement can be harnessed to make electricity.”
I nodded as I drove on.
“Can you imagine,” she said “if everyone wore a hat with a solar panel on top we’d be gathering electricity everywhere we go. We could also fit people with a movement contraption and whenever they walked they'd produce electricity.”
“That’s good,” I smiled thinking of windmills, “and how about getting some wind power from people?”
“Oh, you produce enough of that all by yourself cobber!” she retorted with a laugh.