Gail lives in Ashton Under Lyne with her 14 year old son and found out about Solidarity Sunday and so joined Frack Free Tameside on 12th January to march in solidarity with Barton Moss and other groups from across the country and abroad. This is her perspective.
Ok, where do I start? I’m a single mum that lives with my 14 year old son in Ashton Under Lyne. ‘Fracking’ was just a word, something I had heard in passing but had no clue what it was about. I know very few people in the area as have only been a Tameside resident for almost 5 years, therefore my circle is (but thankfully growing) very small, so conversation never involved ‘Fracking’ and such other topics.
One of the main reasons I moved over this way, originally from South Manchester to Mossley at first, was so that my son would see, fields, animals and nature on his daily trip to school, instead of concrete. Also having close family links with the area. Anyway, totally oblivious about ‘Fracking’ and it’s implications I carried on daily in my ignorance, as my circle began to grow, through local musicians who were more aware of things posting things on Facebook I stared to question just what this ‘Fracking’ thing was. I decided to look into it, initially I thought, but how does it affect ME? I was confused, conflicting reports had my mind racing, ‘It’s dangerous’ ‘It will mean my energy bills are cheaper’. It got that way I was thinking about it in bed at night!!! But all the time a voice within kept saying “Gail, you cannot ignore this,’ so after doing more research and finding out about the results of ‘Fracking’ in the States.
I came to the conclusion, the risk was to high, no matter what the deduction on my bills would be ( which I may add, I now know to be a complete crock of you know what ). I didn’t even know people were camping and protesting at Barton Moss, it just hadn’t entered my world, but now it had and all I can describe it as, is as a calling, as a Mother I couldn’t just close my eyes and ears to the potential dangers of my childs and his future childrens ( should there be any) future.
When I heard about the Mass Solidarity Day that took place last Sunday 12/01/14. I just knew I had to be there, for a number of reasons, to understand more, to see if my gut instincts were right, to stand up for something I believe.
I discussed it with my son and asked if he would like to come with me, his initial reaction was “Do I have to?” and “What’s fracking?” So I said well the best way to find out is to come with me and find out for yourself. He started to look a Fracking on the net and the risks and decided he would come along.
So after transport being sorted to get there, through the lift share that was arranged ( instead of 3 buses there and 3 back) we set off for the Rally. As soon as we arrived at the car park meeting point, I knew I had made the right decision.
We met up with other Frack Free Tameside members and marched to the camp with the many hundreds of people who had travelled from all over to show support. It was a liberating feeling, walking in solidarity, standing up for what we believe. It was also a very touching and memorable day for me, to see my son, proudly holding the banner and chanting with the crowd, he listened with real interest to the speeches given, I could see his mind opening before my eyes.
We stayed all day and shared hot drinks and food with protesters and camp protectors, being welcomed wholeheartedly, the warmth on camp was amazing ( and not just from the camp fire I sat round ) a very poignant moment was at one point I was sat to a child called Matilda, she was very eloquent and the cutest little thing you have ever seen, she asked me if I was staying on camp that night, i replied I couldn’t as I hadn’t got a tent with me, she just simply replied, ” You can borrow one of ours”.
Around 5.30pm we made the move to go home, with a sadness in my heart somewhat as I was enjoying the unity.
The next morning, I thought ok back to reality, WRONG, that old reality no longer exists, my son had managed to wash his face ‘around’ the warrior paint he’d worn for the march and insisted he wanted to wear it to school, with leaflets in hand off he went. I watched as he walked from the house proudly holding his head high. This was a boy who’s world revolved around video games ( still does in many ways he’s 14 hahahaha) but for he first time in a very long time, I knew there was something other than League of Legends on his mind.
I was waiting all day for the call from school re: his warrior paint, nothing. On his return I asked how i went, he was made to remove it in first lesson, but he had highlighters the same colour and re applied it before each lesson, again having to remove it with each teacher and he left leaflets around school. Up to now there has been no come back on his actions, hopefully it stays that way, but I have assured him, that should school have a problem with him and his actions, like his support and solidarity on Sunday with me, I will be giving the same back to him. After all this is a school that puts ex pupils who have gone on to the frontline to fight in places like Afghanistan etc in pride of place , with framed photographs of them in glass cabinets in the reception area, saying we should all be grateful and thankful to them as they are protecting us. I feel that that’s exactly he same that should be shown to all those who are protecting the camp, being arrested etc and the many hundreds that marched on Sunday, that he should feel as worthy as the cannon fodder being held in esteem at school, he’s just fighting a different war, with words and presence as his ammunition.