Ten a.m. is not generally the time I find myself at a bar but I’m being photographed at The Kensington for having won the World Economic Forum’s New Champions Award. I’m actually quite happy about being featured… anything to take the focus off the disastrous United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop27). It was bad enough that the media made a big deal out of the 100 private jets, but beyond that it showed that we did not progress commitments, or show evidence of improvement. So when they suggested shooting me in Stella McCartney, Armani, and Fendi, I was all in.
I also didn’t mind the early hour as the Kensington is just three miles from my childhood home in St John’s Wood, where I’ve been staying off-and-on since lockdowns.
We’re on a short break because I guess it’s what one does post-Covid and the wardrobe mistress needed to explain to the photographer why my gloves don’t fit and why she can’t get another pair. So I made a call to my assistant—no answer. Then I rang my father who told me perfection is the enemy of good but agreed to fetch a pair of gloves from mummy’s wardrobe.
Stella, saving the world one glove at a time.
‘Are you sure?’ Daddy asked.
‘Yes of course I’m sure!’ I said. ‘The ones they gave me could fit The Hulk’.
‘No, I just meant are you sure, because my coming to you adds to the carbon footprint of your eco-award’.
UGH! ‘See you soon,’ I said, and rang off.
Just then my assistant strolled in, latte in hand and apologising for not being available all day yesterday. I hadn’t even known she was out-of-pocket yesterday too, but now that I think about it she was supposed to prepare some climate numbers for my interview. Instead she wanted me to go over some appropriate gifts for my Christmas swag bag. ‘Socks that Plant Trees' was the first suggestion. I nixed it because they actually don’t plant trees — though purportedly someone somewhere, is more likely to be able to plant trees since he bought these socks. Hard pass.
Next up Bees Wrap Food Wrap—it's waxed paper that I have to wash (without soap) and re-use—no thanks. Next up ‘Grow Cocktails’. How could that be bad? Except it's just an egg carton that grows herbs. And not even juniper berries. Then there were robes made from repurposed saris. Double hard pass. First I don’t accept there are that many saris waiting to be repurposed and when I look back to a week in the life of a sari—no thank you. This wasn’t working, but just then Daddy had arrived with several of Judith’s gloves—and they fit—just like a glove.
The 19-something male model they hired to pose behind me had just arrived in London and all but admitted he was working without a visa. Maybe he thought I’d see this as a reason to help him along but I needed to think about the upcoming interview. This was, after all, about recognising my contribution to the planet. Daddy stuck around to run questions with me…
‘So…The Africa Cop…’ He began.
‘Well, technically it was slated as “Cop27” but yes, the focus was Africa…’ I said.
‘Right, so Africa… to highlight innovation? Progress?’
‘NO Daddy, because Africa needs $2.4 trillion due to its vulnerability to climate change’.
‘…And they are more vulnerable because they lack resources and manpower?’
‘No…okay, admittedly they are a mess, and they don’t do anything well, but if we want them to be better caretakers of the planet we have to pay for it’.
What "white savior" complex?
‘OK so we have to pay. And in order to find this $2.4 trillion we have to be more productive—but somehow productive in a way that doesn’t also use more energy or resources? Did I get that right?’ he asked.
‘Well, yes’. I said, ‘But otherwise we can just give our extra money—money we already have!’
‘I see. Our extra money. The money we don't really need. So your plan is we make ourselves poorer so that the most resource-abundant continent on earth can manage their resources the way we tell them to’.
UGH! ’Yes, if you have to put it that way… YES!’
Daddy got up, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, ‘Well, you look lovely, kitten, and I’ve brought you three pair from which to choose… kidskin, silk, and poly-satin. This way you can choose whom to offend’.
That’s Daddy. But I was grateful for the delivery, and honestly the silk ones were divine. I doubted I could find these in any store today.
My assistant was back with another set of options. Reusable paper towels? No on every level. Plant your pencil? A pencil that when finished is pushed into the ground and actually contains seeds. No. Reusable make-up remover pads… I could just see me leaving them in every hotel bin… NO.
‘What about a counter-top trash composter?’ she asked.
‘NO! And NO!’ I said. ‘I’ve had very bad luck with composters as gifts’. I told her the story, briefly reliving my previous embarrassment.
‘But this one is a living composter…you put in food scraps, and worms and…’
‘WORMS? Worms on a kitchen counter?' I shrieked. ‘NO!’
I sent her to chat with junior James Bond and opened my laptop to look for gifts. I landed on the Citizen Eco Watch. PERFECTION! I quickly sent a link to my father and rang to ask his opinion.
‘Well?? It’s eco. Right?’ I asked.
‘It uses FEWER batteries, Jennifer, it runs on light sources, but a back-up battery will still need to be changed about every ten years’.
‘But less is more, right? I asked.
‘But why not a self-winding watch? No battery at all?’
‘Cause it doen’t SAY eco-watch. This one is named "The Citizen Eco Watch"—perception is everything!’
He had no argument. And as he very well knows… perfection is the enemy of good.