Monday, October 6, 2008

The Trouble With Dragons goes live

It's publication day today, and I'm on my way to London. The night is slowly turning to day outside, as this red-eye train sways and clatters towards London. I'm red of eye too - not enough sleep for the past few nights, nervously anticipating this week of full-on dragon events. Why exactly this meant that I had to sample my way through several single malts and talk long into the wee small hours for the last three nights when in truth, the sensible thing to do would have been to have gone to bed early, relatively alcohol-free, is a question I'd rather not answer.

But hey - hindsight is a wonderful thing. And I haven't drunk any malts since last winter, and it was like meeting up with an old and dear friend. Och, Ardbeg, come away in, and wee Caoil Islay - how grand to see your wee face again... and we just had to have ourselves a ceilidh and put the world to rights, and before we knew it, it was 2 a.m and the bottle was drained. In my own defence, I have to point out that it wasn't even half full. I am such a cheap date.

The most exquisite dawn is breaking outside - the sea a pewter sheet of rolling silk on my left, one lone fishing boat dragging a v-wake back to shore. As ever, I am reminded what an beautiful world we share. Which makes what I'm about to do a whole lot easier, because it's far simpler to talk about something you love than just about anything else. Touring with a book is a tough gig - being hauled out in public after the months of solitary confinement when you actually made the damn thing can be very discombobulating. The contrast between the big cities we're about to tour and my normal Sleepy Hollow lifestyle, gives me a wide-eyed staring look just the right side of psychotic. Thankfully, authors are expected to look a tad deranged, so I can get away with it, but trust me, if I was your medical health professional, you wouldn't let me within a million miles of you.

In anticipation of being heckled by climate-change deniers, I've been re-reading all of the books I initially digested while I was working on the Dragons, but I know that I'm pretty useless when confronted with the kind of rage that the majority of deniers seem to exhibit. The rage is born of fear, but that doesn't make it any more palatable. It also, ironically like a high-performance sports car, goes from nought to sixty in under a second, and I am continually aghast at the speed with which seemingly mild people will transform themselves into froth-at-the-mouth table-thumpers when the subject of climate change is raised.

Their arguments become more and more hysterical and unsound, which tends to be indicative of someone finding themselves stranded on the moral equivalent of melting pack-ice. In a way, this is funny, if you happen to enjoy wiping spittle off your glasses, but in another way is pretty tragic, since we all have to share this green and blue oasis in space, and frequently, I find that it's the table-thumpers who are beasting through far more than their fair share. Their arguments tend to begin in a condescending, avuncular fashion - as if it's their mission statement to put me straight, to disabuse me of my falsely held opinions. First they attack my knowledge (and the findings of the IPCC), then they move on to my politics ( it's all a left-wing conspiracy) followed by my choice of newspaper ( suddenly it's bad news to be a Guardianista) and then rapidly, they turn, Jeckyll-like into a creature resembling the unholy union between a frill-lizard and a froth-monster.

Oh, sigh. I can refute, explain, reason and generally hold my own till the cows come home, but in the end, it matters not a jot. I may as well spout pages from the telephone directory for all the good it does. Recently, a relative actually came out with the appalling opinion that the flooding in the coastal plains of Bangladesh was a good thing because 'there were too many of them'. The root assumption at the slimy black heart of that particular foul sentiment was that 'they' were less deserving of life than the relative herself. Her solution to the over-population part of our climate change problem being - the hell with the poor. The horrible thing about this kind of ghastliness is that these core beliefs are held by apparently kind, good and upstanding citizens. Kind, good and upstanding citizens who are terrified of change if it means that they have to accept a lesser share of what's available in order to accommodate the needs of people they perceive as being less deserving.

So, yeah, that was someone with whom I exchange Christmas cards. What the heck is it going to be like having a frank and full interchange of opinions regarding climate change with persons unknown and possibly hostile? Watch this space.

I'm just going to step outside for a while...

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