Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Friday, 27 November 2009

After Dinner Jacket

It’s been raining so the traffic is bad and the people from the state run news organisations are late. They blame Ahmadi Najad for the traffic, but only after making sure the microphone is off. I ask them about how they function as journalists here. They have to get approval before they can go out and cover any story, and then when it’s done they have to have it approved again by a collection of government agencies. It’s a minefield, and a miracle anything gets published. A week later my interviews still haven’t gone out, on hold while it goes through the approval process.

The only way to function in this environment is to self censor. Avoid controversy, toe the line. It’s not that different in the UK. Read Flat Earth News by Nick Davies (I’ve finished reading it now so I will finally stop going on about it).

The easy question that always comes up is “How do I like Iran”, which seems to come from a genuine curiosity about how Iran is perceived by foreigners. But it’s always followed by the killer go-directly-to-jail, do-not-pass-Go question; “What do you think about the Iranian elections?” There is no right answer here, “You either go to jail in Iran, or you go to jail in England” jokes Sammy who is translating the question. But it’s only half a joke.

In that moment I come up with a great answer, diplomatic and thoughtful. Split second genius. So good I don’t need to take the time to mentally double check it before it I release it from my mouth: “In the UK no one voted for Gordon Brown, we had no election, yet he is our Prime Minister. In Italy Silvio Berlusconi controls the media and that allowed him to control what people thought was true, to manipulate his re-election. In the US Bush stole the presidency for 8 years. Democracy is difficult.”

What!?! Andy, You Fucking Idiot! You’ve either just said “Yeah you’ve got a corrupt election stealing president in Iran too” or a milder interpretation might be “Election stealing is fine, everyone does it, leave the man alone” to a population that are ready to lynch him. As the penny drops, I look at the reporter and ask “I’m going to prison aren’t I?”

But fortunately they throw me a lifeline. “No, before they put you in prison they will arrest me, so I will make sure neither of us gets into trouble.” Thank god for a system which forces journalists to self-censor.

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