XR Godalming Update 26th May

As each week passes, for many people lockdown becomes harder. It’s difficult not to see family members who don’t live in your home. For some, working from home can be challenging, as each day is another at a computer. Others will continue to worry if their jobs are secure, and those who are self-employed may not know when or how they will be able to build their businesses back up again. The constants in life can seem unendingly negative: we can be sure the government will continue to bluster its way through this crisis; we can be sure that different rules apply for the elite of society; we can be sure that despite the current reduced carbon emissions, the planet is still in trouble. Ever more reason, therefore, for us to stick to our principles and aims. A good way to feel better about our circumstances is to take action. Despite the restrictions we are under, we can do things to forge our way to a better future.



Last week we mentioned that planners have backed UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) plans for drilling at Dunsfold. Kirsty had pointed out that this does not yet have planning permission. At the time, we thought this would go to committee on Thursday 21 May but that did not happen. It has now been put off until June 29, so there is more time for us to be organised. Keep a look out on the group chat on Telegram for further information. This is an issue to write to Jeremy Hunt about, who is apparently campaigning against UKOG’s plans. Let’s give him a shed load of emails in support of that endeavour.


Last week Chris put up the following request. As this is still ongoing, it is repeated here.

Waverley Borough Council has asked us for feedback on the “Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan”. We’re pleased that the Council is committed to a robust and measureable plan and this is our opportunity to comment on the detail before it’s passed through the system. It would be really good to make use of the diverse knowledge and expertise we have in the group so that we can give some useful input. The document containing the plan is divided up into a number of topic areas like transport, food production, finance, education and housing/buildings. If you’d like to be part of this, whether from general interest or because you have an interest or knowledge in a specific policy area, then please let us know by putting a message in the Telegram general chat group or by sending an email to xrgodalming@gmail.com. Mark your email Waverley Climate Emergency Plan for the attention of Joyce (Joyce is our XR Godalming link with Waverley). We’ll then create a forum so that everyone interested can see the document and submit comments which we can compile together in a report by the end of June.

3.       CHANGE IS NOW

Chris has also sent the following link: https://t.me/joinchat/McIFH0toioZoqgkyhsHlHQ. We can discuss this at our meeting on 27 May. It’s a Telegram chat for a proposed UK-wide action on 30 May. You may wish to join the chat to find out more before we discuss it.


Duncan is continuing to curate the XR Godalming book club. The most recent session was on Monday 25 May. The theme was climate change and colonialism. If you wish to take part in future events, or have suggestions for material to read, please contact Duncan. If you missed the session, but still want to read the articles, they are on a googledoc.


Last week, Louisa organised another excellent open mic session. These are thoroughly in the spirit of creating a community in which people share a little of themselves, and are appreciated for who they are and what they contribute.

Louisa kicked off the proceedings with a lively Romanian folk tune by Bartok, played on the violin. It wasn’t hard to imagine how the tune might have brought a group to its feet for a dance, if played in other circumstances. Something to look forward to when we can meet again…?

Basil followed with two very contrasting contributions. He started with a wonderfully animated reading of Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky. Somehow, Basil managed to make sense of the nonsense in the poem, and the Jubjub bird, frumious Bandersnatch and Jabberwocky itself, with eyes of flame, seemed real enough. By way of counterpoint, having slain the Jabbewocky, Basil picked up his flute and piped his way delightfully through the dreamy Cupid’s Waltz.

The soft and gentle tones continued with Chris’s rendition of Let it Be. His melodic guitar strumming complemented his soulful singing. With a clever transposition of Mother Earth for Mother Mary, Chris gave the song pertinence to our current times. He has, perhaps, created the ultimate song for de-escalation during XR actions. And who can doubt the relevance of lines such as: And when the broken hearted people; Living in the world agree; There will be an answer; Let it be.

We took a break from music with Rieks’s reading of the medieval poem/song, Sumer is icumen in’. Inspiration to read the poem was taken from hearing cuckoos on Rodborough Common.

Charles kept us in ancient times by reading a most unusual shopping list from an event that took place in 1465. The occasion was the inauguration ceremony of George Neville, when he became Archbishop of York. The feast, held at Cawood Castle and prepared for 2500 people, was an extraordinarily lavish affair. It is not for the faint-hearted, and vegetarians and vegans will baulk at what was eaten. Among the more unusual items were peacocks, herons, curlews, egrets, porpoises and seals. A true devastation of nature! Having explored 15th century culinary excesses, Charles took us to a whole new realm by playing the Nutting Girl on a melodeon, a jig for a single dancer. If you closed your eyes you could picture yourself on a village green watching a Morris dance.

One of the themes of the evening was an appreciation of nature. Louisa’s next tune on the violin was The Lark Ascending, by Vaughan Williams. She was inspired by seeing skylarks for the first time on a recent walk. Although often played with a full orchestra, in some ways the flight of the solitary lark was accentuated by Louisa’s solo performance, in which it was easy to imagine the bird’s dizzying aerobatic display.

For the second time in the evening Chris caught the mood of our times with John Prine’s song Hello in There. At a time when people are isolated, this song about the loneliness of old age struck an immediate chord. And Chris’s choice of a John Prine song is all the more poignant given the artist’s recent death due to coronavirus complications. The line and all the news just keeps repeating itself could have been written today.

We ended back with nature, and another poem from Rieks about cuckoos. This time, To the Cuckoo, by William Worsdworth. For anyone who has ever tried to see a cuckoo, the lines Even yet thou art to me; No bird, but an invisible thing; A voice, a mystery will feel familiar. One of the wonderful things about nature is that what we see and hear today, is much as our ancestors heard it. The cuckoo sounded the same to Wordsworth as it does to us, At once far off, and near.


On Saturday, a number of people attended de-escalation training. Among them was Louisa, who has provided a summary.

In line with our commitment to non-violence, a number of us took part in de-escalation training last Saturday. De-escalators are the people who wear white bibs on actions, but the techniques we learned, from how to calm down an agitated crowd to how to calmly but firmly deal with aggressive members of the public, can be applied by any rebels as the need arises. Key to the session was the concept of non-violent communication, which is based on active listening, empathy, talking about facts not judgements and communicating needs. After learning the BREATHE sequence to follow when de-escalating, we practised some scenarios on each other. Whether you love or hate role-play, we all agreed that this was a really useful and empowering training. We’ll be incorporating de-escalation practise sessions into future meetings: watch this space! Thanks to Jenny for organising.


As reported last week Tim and Basil’s development of the XR Godalming website is coming along, with new items being added. Please take a look at xrgodalming.org and contact Tim or Basil if you have any thoughts about the content, or if you want to be involved in the project.


This Wednesday (27 May) we have a regular meeting.

One of the topics to discuss is land use. It seems our collective interest has been sparked by Maddy Harland’s talk on permaculture a few weeks ago. A number of chats on Telegram have related to land use. We are not alone in this, and someone in XR Oxford is going to write a piece for SEAC (which Chris attends on our behalf) on the issue. She may be a good presenter for our group, along with other people already identified.

We could also consider whether we want to look further into supporting widespread hemp farming. This is gaining popularity as an ecologically friendly/sustainable crop.

As always at present, the session will be on zoom.

The session starts at 7.30pm.


Information about forthcoming Think Tank and book club sessions will be posted on Telegram.

Heading for Extinction talk. We are looking at doing a Zoom version of the H4E talk, with some adjustment to the content in light of the coronavirus crisis. A date has yet to be firmed up, but likely to be in the first half of June.

Look forward to seeing you on Wednesday or soon.

With hope and determination.

XR Godalming