the original tool
From a luxury house tastefully clad in expensive wood, perched upon cliffs falling to an exciting but over-loved little fishing village, out he walked. He was tall, elegant though in ‘gardening’ gear. We smiled and began chatting and his soft, cultured voice told you he was entitled, that he was powerful, used to being listened to and followed. Powerful, rich, full of health, fit. Living in a to-die-for location in a home in which many dream spending a single night as perfection.
A little along the way, a young oak resplendent in its final burst of autumnal colours caught us. I commented on its beauty, a woman with a lively face responded and we discussed how, in four, even seven hundred years, this tree could still be living upon England’s lovely coastline. “By then we will be mere dots!” the woman laughed.
Yes, little dots. But what destructive dots.
Further along we stumbled upon another house built by millionaires, beautiful, artful, also clad in wood. But empty of life, a second home. And in a section of the cliff where a sign warned that the entire landscape was in danger of sliding, slumping, eating you up at any moment. You could it has done so in several places. Imagine the money these people must have to gamble upon building a house there. And what audacity, what selfishness, despoiling a stunning stretch of nature for their brief visits.
As we pondered such folly, I spotted a flint hidden in the mud. Recognising something special, I picked it up. And cleaned it in the wet grass. The curves revealed a Stone Age tool, a little chipped and missing its sharp point. A multi-purpose implement, the original Swiss Army knife created ten to twelve thousand years before Switzerland came into being.
The family who made and exchanged these extraordinary items would have been as wealthy, in relative terms, as the modern man proudly living in his lux house at the start of this walk, yet their astounding, abundant lives, as rich as ours, have withered in time’s vast chasm.
Holding their legacy in the palm of my hand is a potent reminder that our every act impacts upon the planet in some way, even long, long after we, our families and our cultures are completely forgotten. How sensitively we must act and this very week we were told, very briefly, that it has been 4 million years since the world was this warm. Seconds later, the leading climate scientist was followed by more coverage-time of… Boris and Brexit!