I think it's safe to say I've just had one of the most emotional weeks of my life. I've slept on a wooden floor, on the concrete of Whitehall outside Downing Street, a plastic mattress in a Forest Gate police station cell, on grass and then mud in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and, hopefully tonight, an electric blanket on board my old wooden boat.
I spent 10.30am Monday to 6.30pm Tuesday locked and super glued through a steel pipe (Peter) onto this beautiful wonderful lady above, Molly, who I have now got to know very well, funnily enough. I have laughed louder than I can remember. And I've cried harder than I thought possible, through both joy and gratitude.
I have been photographed, filmed, recorded and interviewed by many journalists, wanting to know why I was doing this, and frequently I would share the short story of when I cried the hardest. Whilst lying down on the concrete, getting a little rest, a lady tapped me on my leg and apologised for interrupting, but would I mind if her daughter said something to me. Of course not, I replied, and a girl of about 10 years came into my eyeline. She leant forward and spoke just these few words; "I want to say thank you". I am crying now whilst writing this post. Those words will be with me for the rest of my life on this fragile planet.
Late on Monday night, BBC Radio Four presenter Ross Hawkins came over and asked if he could record our singing. He was on his way home from covering a Margaret Thatcher book launch, where Boris Johnson had spoken and described XR activists as "uncooperative crusties". We recorded as interview which went out on his show the following morning, highlight of which for m was Ross's question "why do you have your arms in a plastic tube?". Err...have you heard about us and plastics?
My emotions continued to wildly swing from love to laughter, from gratitude and humility back to joy, and always more love. But I never felt fear. When the truly astonishing reds protected us (above) just prior to being cut out by the specialist police crew, I felt the power stronger than ever. Unconditional love and resolute purpose. The hordes of fellow rebels around us sang that they had all the love in the world, and I smiled as the cutting machinery worked it's way into the steel just a few millimeters from my Molly and my hands.
From bottom to top, Chris, Amelia, Molly & Woody on Whitehall, as yet unaware they would become known as the "Forest Gate Four".
Free...for a few minutes...
"Going floppy" ensures it takes four officers to take you to the van, slowing down the rate at which they can clear protestors.
I could hear the rebels continue to cheer, clap and sing as we were carried away to the police van. But I'm not a hero. I don't share with this with you out of grandiosity, or to feed my ego. Believe me, that doesn't need any help!
I did this simply because I could. The real heroes are those who can't do what we did, those around us, who supported us, fed us, watered us, and changed our nappies (I'm not kidding). Those who talked with us, listened to us, laughed with us, and held our hands. Those who thanked us. Those who helped us spread the most important message of all. I love them. All of them. My Extinction Rebellion family.
Join our family. Together, we can do this.
Stevil AKA Woody, October 2019.
The "Forest Gate Four" re-united in Russell Square after marching from Marble Arch down Oxford Street yesterday. Uncooperative crusties at work...