COP26 Special


The two weeks of COP26 happened by coincidence during a fortnight we had to spend in alternative accommodation, because of damage caused by tunneling for the recently-opened extension to the Northern Line. Our rented cottage was in Kent, within a few miles of a well-connected railway town, but almost comically difficult to reach, especially during the lengthening hours of darkness, when walking or cycling up narrow unlit lanes was out of the question.


We fortunately also had our (bottom-of-the-range) electric car with us, since everything we needed had to be fetched from some distance. But charging this vehicle began to occupy much of our waking hours. One day we chanced with immense relief upon a couple of public chargers in the car park of a sports centre somewhere in the town's industrial hinterland. Unusually, they were working, and we plugged in. Whereupon the manager rushed out to take our picture, explaining that we were the first people ever to use them.


What with all this, I was more than ready to consider what COP26 could mean for my own profession, which in normal times seems to involve so much travel. A dear colleague mentioned that he had manfully listened right through a BBCr3 Music Matters special on roughly this subject. What did they suggest we do? My friend's favourite answer quoted someone who said "I honestly don't know". His own reaction was to go out and plan a series of lunchtime concerts, because this seemed much more low-tech and accessible in natural daylight - something I could relate to while staying in a place I couldn't easily travel out of after around four o'clock in the afternoon.


Pictured - I snapped this impressive haystack while visiting nearby Barton Woodland Burial Ground outside Cambridge, for the green funeral of my dear violin/viola/conductor/composer friend Rachel Greenwood, whom I first met in the NYO over 50 years ago. As was always the case with Rachel, this simple, outdoor event was an inspiration. It felt just right to say goodbye surrounded by trees and sky, rather than the usual depressing funeral furniture.



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JUDITH WEIR

Composer