Several writers (far cleverer than I) have pointed out that “hope” equals “inaction”. We treat phrases like “when hope dies” as if they represent the end-of-the-world when we should welcome the end of hope as the start of action. Hope absolves us of the responsibility of actually making things better. So, let us stop hoping. Let us start DOING.
What then will the “post-hope” world look like? Maybe eleven enormous wind-turbines on the hills around the Wycombe district. They will be joined by hundreds of small “community-sized” wind-turbines dotted around the school playing fields above the valley. You’ll see them at the John Hampden Grammar School, the RGS, Highworth and Disraeli Schools amongst others. The children will walk to school because their school will be within walking distance. On the way there they will walk under the shade of a thousand apple trees from which they will pick a fruit for school. The roads will be quiet apart from the ding-ding of bicycle bells. Small children run back and forth across back-roads with no fear of traffic. The roads now are open and empty of cars.
Neighbours will chat over the garden fence and swap more than gossip – maybe a few fruit and veg may exchange hands. Imagine every front lawn and back garden bristling with vegetables. Every morning in Wycombe we awake to the calls of a hundred cockerels as the keeping of back-garden chickens becomes the latest trend to follow. In the post-hope world everyone has green fingers and every home is its own power station. The roof tops will glisten with a hundred-thousand solar panels supplying 60% of all our hot water and 90% of all our electricity. In the colder seasons the sky will fill with the gentle puff of wood smoke as 40% of homes now derive their warmth of locally coppiced wood-fuel. New housing estates will have homes without boilers. A network of heat pipes from a central biomass power station will distribute all the warmth we need. And we will need very little as all new homes will be so well insulated that they are warmed by the sun and human body-warmth. Older homes will be packed with new insulation and be warmed by bio-gas produced locally from our own sewerage.
Dad and Mum may well simply walk or cycle to work. The working hours will be short allowing plenty of time to work that vegetable patch or potter around the community orchard. The monthly pay packet may no longer be in sterling. Wycombe may have its own currency and its own Bank. Holidays will be taken by train in a post-hope world where the railways are ultra-quiet, cheap and carbon free. A small number of cars will now be outnumbered by the buses that whiz around the quiet streets. Their tail-pipes may emit nothing more than water or the faint whiff of fish and chips. If they emit anything at all. Our streets may well be lined with recharging points for the small number of electric taxis and bicycles. Traffic now hums and the battle against respiratory diseases has now been won. Our children live healthier and everyone is getting a lot more exercise than in the time when all they had was hope & video-games.
The summers in High Wycombe will become hot and dry. The rain we have comes in autumn and a lot of it all comes at once. But we are enterprising souls. Rainwater is now captured in tanks large & small in, around and under our homes. It is pumped out to wash our clothes, flush our toilets and water our gardens. The thousand apples trees help stop the soil from being washed into the valley during the new “flash-flood season”. The trees help deter the heat-island effect that could so fry the community. Storms and extreme weather are now expected but tolerated as normal. In the good years our shops are abundant with local produce and all the bananas, chocolate, coffee and spices we could ever need. In the bad years the local produce fills out the diet although 40% doesn’t go via a shop. We grow it, harvest it and eat it. When all hope is abandoned we no longer waste our time queuing for petrol. Afterall it is way, way too expensive – as is all the food from the industrial system that turned oil into food. Food finally tastes GOOD and is genuinely GOOD FOR YOU. In the days after hope the NHS cares for our elderly who fall sick once the epidemic of cancer abates.
Of course not everyone will like the world created at the end of hope. But most of us will be delighted. In fact most people will be so delighted that we wonder why we did it any other way. This was the better way all along. All we had to do was stop believing that it would be delivered ONLY by Whitehall or County Hall. It will be a team effort and that team will include YOU. We will all muck in.
If we can remember how.