Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Trooping

The Jubilee is upon us and it’s time for the literal rubber to hit the road. The green road that is. I just flew back to London from Davos where I received a Schwab Foundation Award and it occurred to me, the queen herself was the one who needed to deliver our message, and it was up to me to tell her. The question was exactly how? There would be no tree-hugger shenanigans on my part (one can’t save the planet from jail). And one can’t expect to be taken seriously if one looks (and likely smells) like a Neanderthal. So I committed to use my not-inconsequential influence and hoped it wouldn’t end with a call to Daddy’s solicitor. 

It had been nearly a year since the queen addressed the world at the COP26 (the Conference of Parties) and it was then that climate change had gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. But with so many other things on her mind, (like those pesky Sussexes) I assumed she could use a little help. Britain, at this year’s World Economic Forum, had made a rather dismal showing: No Prince Charles, no Bono, no Elton… not even Swampy, who incidentally has changed his name back to Dan.  

1952: The King is dead. Long live the Queen!

First things first—I’d have to ditch my parents.  Daddy was taking us to view the activities from the roof of Westminster Abbey before making our way over to The Goring for the ceremonial cutting of Her Majesty’s royal fruit cake.  All in all, a very special day no matter the occasion.  My parents are generally not such the social rovers, but Daddy is a Briton through and through, a traditionalist, a conservative, a Tory (we forgive him) and a monarchist. And the Queen’s Jubilee was not coming around again.

He was an engineer by trade, and in service of the crown when I was born in British Hong Kong. I don’t think Judith (Mummy) ever fully adjusted to living abroad. Or London. Or anything terribly domestic for that matter, but her great-grandfather had come up the hard way, and was crestfallen when the Queen Charlotte's Ball was ended; and she had to marry a promising engineer over the prospects of a proper coming-out. Any way you sliced it, this was the closest they would come to the monarchy, or paying their grateful respects to a life spent in service of the British people. 

From the roof of Westminster Abbey, Daddy pointed out the characteristic Gothic features, and of particular interest to him, the continental design of geometrical proportion and wide English transepts. He also pointed out the most recent restoration—decay that was caused by weathering and pollution from coal smoke. I saw this as my sign to head out. ‘Ma’am’ I would say…’I’ve just come from atop the Abbey, where coal…’ Hmm…maybe no.

The perfectly modern monarch.

I’d called in half a dozen favours… not one of which had come back to me with any good news but no matter, off I went—through the maze of security and crowds the likes of which London has never seen. I had, on my phone, pictures of my recent meeting with Prince Charles, my Davos award, my Paris Match cover photo, and for added measure… older photos of me on the British Equestrian Team. Of course I didn’t imagine I’d use these photos to gain entry but I’d used positive visualisation techniques to prepare for this day, and well… they couldn’t hurt.

It also didn’t hurt that I looked like a million bucks.  Mummy had turned up with this hat before I looked for the dress. We’d sort of reverse-engineered the ensemble but it worked, as did my plan.  I’ll never, ever give up the details of how I got in, but suffice it to say, a Cheltenham girl’s got to have a few tricks up her sleeve and once Charles recognised me… he moved toward me in the most welcoming way, as though I’d been expected all along. And up we went. 

It nearly killed me not to want to look up to where Daddy and Judith were perched, sort of like not being able to look at oneself in the monitor when taping a segment, but I was now the model of calm reserve and focus. And I had work to do.  Charles broke the ice by saying ‘I don’t think we can count on monkeypox to cut down on commuters, and production and CO2 output this go round’. Of course he was right, Britons—and really the world, had had it. They were not going to be locked down again even if it helped the planet.

But the queen took a more sanguine tack. She was all smiles, and enjoying the day, knowing her commonwealth was in good hands. I mentioned to her that everyone agrees, the most important message she had delivered in the last decade, had been in Scotland for COP26.

Just then a text from Daddy: ‘Oh for God's sake Jennifer. DO NOT mention Charles’ delusion that his Jaguar actually runs on wine and cheese’.  Followed by ‘And do not bang on about eating bugs either!’.

We’d discussed their so-called ‘Green Champions’ that getting new efficient boilers for all the royal residences was just good stewardship, (albeit a £369 million expenditure of public funds). That turning Gloucestershire organic just meant Charles wanted to eat organic produce himself, and preservation efforts meant no future development infringing on any of the royal retreats. 

They won’t be asking for windmills at Sandringham’, Daddy had once quipped. Imaginary solutions to imaginary problems he called it.

The planet's in good hands, Mum.

But today, in the queen, I saw a mother. One who wanted the best for her subjects and her children. She had just been protecting the things that mattered to her, as she had always done. Different times, different things. Once it had been Norman or Saxon or Celt.

And I wondered if Daddy was right, that there was no correlation between atmospheric CO2 and mean global temperatures, but today we needn’t discuss all that. And after a small push for eating bugs in schools, I assured her that the planet was in good hands. Just then she asked me, ‘Have you any siblings, Miss Kennedy?’ 

‘I do not, Your Majesty’, I replied. 'It's just the three of us'.

‘Pity', she said. 'I should think you’d thrive in a large family. Who knows what the future holds? Fate can surprise you’.

Now, what do you suppose she meant by that?

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Boarding

After participating in a disastrous environmental conference, I headed straight to my childhood home in St John’s Wood, only to find Daddy and Judith had gone to the country.  Granted they hadn’t expected me, but some notice would have been nice. It was just as well—I was frustrated with the way the conference had gone and just wanted a curry and a hot bath.

I woke up the next day refreshed, and decided to drive to Le Manoir in Oxfordshire and tuck into one of their eco-friendly suites.  I wasn’t up for any of their cooking or gardening programmes but I pinched some books from Daddy’s study and set off to arrive before lunch. 

The check-in process took an eternity. They are understandably proud of their Green Michelin Star, but I also had to hear about the 100% recyclable amenities, sensor lighting in the bathrooms, a state-of-the-art Rocket Composter, soaps and candles that get re-crafted by local seniors (re-crafted into what I did not want to ask!), and newspapers that are sent to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital to be reused as bedding. Perhaps just a tad TMI?  I mean I don’t want to be thinking that my morning paper is going to be under some goat’s bum. As it stands I was just getting over learning that Prince Charles never leaves home without his favourite loo seat and velvet lavatory paper.

No green too Green for HRH.

In point of fact, all sustainability measures tickle my little green heart, but at £1,200 a night, I did not want to be thinking about their much-touted closed-loop waste system (whatever that even is!). I nearly had to shove the bellman out of my room to make it to luncheon before the cutoff.  Seven courses later, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Wine without meat (I chose the vegan) packs an extra punch. I made my way back to my room and flopped on the bed which felt like Egyptian cotton but at this point I was beginning to wonder.

I might have slept right through the day but my phone started buzzing as it usually does around this time. No sense closing my eyes… I was up. UGH. I grabbed my earbuds and dialled my father.  

‘Yes, Jennifer', he answered. ‘We missed you at the end of the conference.’

‘Yes I know, I left. Obviously.’ 

‘Obviously’, he replied.  

I was grateful he didn’t push it. ‘So I was thinking of joining a board… I mean, I’ve been asked to join a board. It’s a pretty big deal'.

‘How big?’

‘HSBC big.’

‘I see', he said. ‘Because you know so much about banking?’ 

‘Obviously no’, I huffed. 'Because I can contribute in ways that help them meet stakeholder capitalism metrics'.

Stakeholder capitalism: everybody's a winner!

‘But they don’t need you for that', he observed. 'They can just make things up without any input from you or anyone else'.

‘Ouch! Not nice'. 

‘Actually I’m being very nice', he said. ‘Generous, even. I’ve always supported your ideas, pointed you away from avenues that were not well-reasoned… but this is crackers'.

‘I don’t agree that this is crackers, but historically you help me do my job, even if you don’t agree with it'.

‘Yes, and I will', he said. 'But understand exactly what you are doing here. You are essentially the mob'.

‘As a board member??’ 

'No, as you—Jennifer—thorn in the side of corporations. You are saying hire us to give our opinions, and if you don’t we will hurt your business'.

‘It’s not as simple as that’, I insisted.

‘Actually, it is. You can confer no benefit, you don’t know that your beliefs will improve the company’s bottom line, you don’t have the ability to affect their performance or their profitability. What you offer, is extortion: Pay us or else'. 

He had a point. UGH. ‘Okay…’ I continued. ‘I’m not saying I agree, but Klaus says that global challenges amplified by the COVID-19 have made…’

‘Stop right there. Covid didn’t amplify. Governments amplified. Unprecedented restriction amplified.  And governments, and shake-down artists like Klaus, searched for and found ways to use a health crisis to address other problems. Not to mention previously unimaginable levels of public spending. I submit to you this unprecedented restriction and profligate spending is why they were able to sell it as a pandemic, and why from the very start, it seemed more dramatic than a health crisis—because it was'.

Your papers, please, comrade.

My mind flipped through my many chapters of Covid.  The lockdowns, the travel restrictions, the fear, the confusion, all the take-out food—crazy time. And not to mention the cancellation of Davos—three times,  when in truth  we were all getting on with our lives as best as we could… still flying… still… OK, he had a point.  

‘So Jennifer, I’m not saying don’t take the position—take it.  If you don’t someone else will, and I know you will be more conscientious than the next fellow, but make an effort to reign yourselves in, and not be pushed to sound like a complete nutter'.

 ‘Meaning?’ I asked. 

‘Meaning don’t assume you are right just because it’s what you want. The jump from shareholder to stakeholder was a very slick manoeuvre. And I believe when they realise all they’ve done is let the fox in the henhouse, they’ll want an accounting of every hen that went missing'.

Bright and early the next morning I rang to say I’d take the position. ‘Excellent', replied the woman at the other end of the line. Although she didn’t mean excellent. She asked about my 'additional qualifications'. 

‘Like banking?’ I replied. I mean, she had to know I didn’t know the first thing about banking.

‘No, no...' she said laughing as if I’d given the world’s funniest response to a question of qualification. ‘No, I meant, racial makeup—POC, or sexual identity'. 'As a qualif…’ I bit my tongue. Oh boy. She did mean as a qualification.

And just like that, I went from qualified to unqualified. Perhaps the shortest tenure of a board member in history.  

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Mad Hatting

I’m back in Old Blighty where we seem to want to party like it’s 1999. Judith (mummy) asked me to come back because she’s afraid of the stupid new Covid variant—of which there are three cases and no deaths. So I appeased her, but truth be told, I’d had enough of Silicon Valley and their oppressive mask-wearing. Plus Californians are living in abject fear because their state is going to hell in a handbasket. And they’re in full denial over Florida’s bragging rights. They’ve thrown a wobbly, but if lockdown really happens I’m headed straight back to Lyford Cay. It won’t be another spate of take-away curries and skulking off to underground parties from my childhood home.

When I arrived I found Daddy sadly away, so I let myself be dragged to a Mad Hatter Party. Rather early on I got separated from my friends, and found myself recognised as ‘the bug hostess.’ I guess I should be flattered but sometimes even talking about it gets me rather queasy. I took a big gulp of my ‘million dollar cocktail’ and tried to change the subject. Now outed as an eco-warrior, I was being asked about Bill Gates’ plan to blacken the sky. Like I know? ’He’s not really a client of mine,’ I said to a girl with a Viking ship on her head, and anyway why do I have to be responsible for him?

"Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am."

‘But you do know him…’ She pressed.

‘I don’t !’ I insisted. ‘I mean…he comes to the WEF and sure—I’ve met him but…’

‘TELL !’ She squealed, ‘Did you go to his daughter’s wedding?’ Seriously? This was getting nuts. I almost wanted to tell her who my real client was and I excused myself under the guise of needing the loo. Moments later I was bombarded again. This time she had a friend with her and it was rapid-fire from the two of them --

But he wants to obscure the sun, right?

Why does he own more farmland than anyone else in the States?

Why does he want to vaccinate all of Africa?

What about the fake meat—does it really grow in a lab?

Are you dating him—?

‘Excuse me.’ I said, this time making no excuse and getting far away from them. It seemed they knew more about Mr Gates than I did and I just didn’t want to be talking about my job when it wasn’t my job. And certainly not about a client that wasn’t my client. How childish they were! I pushed through until I found a quiet place to make a call.

‘Yes, Jennifer.’ Daddy answered. ‘How’s mummy?’

‘Dunno exactly. I’m at a Mad Hatter party.

‘How mad exactly?’ he asked.

‘Reasonably so… they seem to think that just because I care about the planet and attend the World Economic Forum in Davos that I personally know every big climate enthusiast, including Bill Gates.’

‘Well don’t you?’

‘Daddy!’

‘It’s a fair question, poppet.’

‘Not at a party it isn’t.’

‘Ah. Only green during bankers hours are we? Sorry, that was unkind. How was California?’

‘I was in Northern California… I flew in with my client. But I wanted to ask what you know about Bill Gates and shooting calcium into the atmosphere to block the sun.’

He thought for a moment. ‘Is it calcium now? Originally it was sulphur. Either way it’s reason for concern.’

‘Why exactly?’ I asked, not wanting to face this party uninformed. 

‘Think, Jennifer. It’s the whole atmosphere we’re talking about. There are still pieces of the very first atom bomb in every corner of the atmosphere… I think you call it the ecosphere, but don’t you imagine we’d have done something to remove them if we could? Add to that nothing they say rings true, it’s more double-speak than even your green-science allows.’

‘But what if…?’

‘If what? If they’re right? Einstein was right—the atom bomb worked as intended. But would we sign up for that a second time? Not likely. And to what end? Most of Europe’s gone fascist again anyway. Sweetheart, I’m surprised at you. And to solve what problem exactly? The possibility of lowering the temperature of a planet by two degrees? It’s not going to happen. Even they admit it could make things worse than having done nothing.’

‘Worse isn’t good.’ I said. Ugh.

Bear in mind it was not that many years ago you were begging me to buy land on the equator because your science reader told you we were headed toward an ice age.’

‘Daddy— I was a kid!’

‘Yes a kid quoting science. And now without any additional proof, you are convinced of the polar opposite. And likely part of the team who also—without much more knowledge or education, will install the deciders. Why do you think they brought in Prince Charles instead of MIT?’

Did somebody mention Prince Charles?

Double ugh. Daddy was right about that. Neither me, nor my client, nor Bill Gates nor Klaus Schwab, nor Prince Charles for that matter, had any science or engineering cred. This was embarrassing. He was right calling them space cowboys and I felt like an idiot.

With the sun rising over this party our host came round with sausage rolls and Alka-Seltzer. I watched the reaction of the fizzy tabs in water. Calcium bicarbonate—stable until plunked into the water. The dramatic change made me shiver because SCoPEx -- the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment at Harvard -- had argued that calcium was stable… and the ideal compound to be jettisoned into space.

I realised too, I’d missed the obvious. They just want to be the ones in charge. They want to tinker and manipulate because when you’re playing chess games with God, you can afford the really big toys. This wasn’t what I’d signed up for. This wasn’t about the planet. I looked round and remembered the Mad Hatter’s words to Alice: ‘People who don't think shouldn’t talk."

Make sure of it Alice, make very sure.

A Royal With Some Sense

In response to the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, The Global Warming Policy Forum reposted a piece from a few years ago by the (now deceased) British climate skeptic Christopher Booker, entitled "The time Prince Philip wrote to me in praise of my views on global warming."

Written on the occasion of the prince's retirement from public life in 2017, Booker mentioned that he'd been very touched to receive a "long, thoughtful and sympathetic letter" from Philip after the publication of his best-selling book The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the Obsession with 'Climate Change' Turning Out to Be the Most Costly Scientific Blunder in History? The prince had wanted to correct one minor error in the book which pertained to himself;

I had said he was still a supporter of the World Wildlife Fund, which he co-founded in 1961. In fact, he said, he had withdrawn from the WWF after it switched from its original focus on saving endangered species to relentless campaigning against global warming.

Booker didn't spell out Philip's position on global warming any further than that -- to do so would likely have been to betray a confidence -- but that anecdote, along with a few others (several obituaries have mentioned his recently describing the wind farms popping up all over England as “disgraceful” and “absolutely useless”) paint a pretty clear picture.

Unfortunately, Prince Philp's progeny don't seem to have inherited his good sense. The green enthusiasms of the Prince of Wales are well known. Booker even mentioned that Charles was rather disturbed by his "views on global warming," and that he'd been immediately cut from the heir apparent's Christmas Card list after the publication of his book. We've previously had occasion to comment on the vacuity of Prince Charles's younger son, Harry, and his American bride, la Markle. And his elder son, William, is in on the act as well, recently tacitly endorsing Klaus Schwab’s Great Reset in a recent speech, saying:

All of us, across all sectors of society, and in every corner of the globe must come together to fundamentally reset our relationship with nature and our trajectory as a species.

This generation of royals are clearly grasping at celebrity, which is why they've embraced the self-righteous environmentalism so common among the glitterati. What they seem to have missed is that celebrity and royalty are diametrically opposed concepts, the one obsessed with self-assertion, with proclaiming "my truth," and the other  concerned with duty, honor, and self-abnegation. You don't have to be a monarchist -- I am not -- to appreciate that Philip was a man who embodied these latter qualities.

Britain would be better off if his children and grandchildren took after him.

Enemies of the People: Prince Charles