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.

Monday, 22 November 2010


I was asked if I was a hippy again yesterday and lately I’ve been proudly answering yes, but I still draw the line at tree-hugger.

The 60’s hippies that drove to India and that danced at Woodstock, were acting on a desire to escape the values and job-for-life destiny of their parent’s generation who, coming out of the austerity of the Second World War, were revelling in a period of prosperity and technology advances that were creating a consumptive society. Sparked by the Beat Generation’s rebellion against the norms of music and poetry, the hippies rejected the norms of lifestyle, and clumsily developed an alternative way, founded on turning to nature and community.

When I started planning this trip, just before the credit crisis, the UK had experienced a 10 year stint of unprecedented prosperity, and developed a credit fuelled appetite for consuming. So I like to think that my escape was an attempt to reject those values, but like the 60’s hippies I have to admit that it was funded by that same economic growth spurt which has given me the savings and freedom to temporarily escape my “career for life” destiny.

Like the hippies of the 60’s I am playing the system, earning my money with a laptop, the internet and corporate clients and spending with a hippy bus journey. It’s a mistake to think that the bus loads that drove to India were anti-capitalist. They were savvy globalising entrepreneurs, long before Thatcher or Reagan made it fashionable or acceptable to be so. Journeys were funded by trading, just like Marco Polo centuries before. Selling auto parts bought in Germany to the Turks, selling spare seats to passengers on the hippy trail, selling Afghan weed to Indian lads, and then stocking up on Indian fabrics and silver jewellery to sell on the beaches of the Adriatic during the return journey.

In some ways I feel that this is where I’m failing my hippy badge. For 12 years I took cars across the Sahara Desert to West Africa loaded with Europe’s junk; broken fridges, auto parts, bicycles, Walkmans, and mobile phones, all to be traded and sold to fund the journeys. This trip hasn’t had that element of trade-as-you-go and I miss it because it’s a sweet insight into what the countries you visit need and what they have to offer. And if you can pull it off it’s a sweet earner too.

The hippy movement made a kind of resurgence in the mid 90’s in the shape of “New Age Travellers”, living in old trucks, squatting on land, and largely migrating with agricultural work cycles; from hop picking in Kent to winkle picking in Scotland, and then down to Spain for the oranges. New Age Travellers sprang from the rave culture but it also grew out of a rejection of the Loadsamoney culture Thatcherism was creating, so along with copious drugs and music, was active protest about social issues, like the Battle for Twyford Down road building, the Poll Tax riots, and pretty much anything else the Tories did.

And both movements arguably left their mark on their societies before their demise. The hippies of the 60’s settled down to merge with their Baby Boomer generation instilling it with a hint of liberalism and social consciousness as their voice blended into society’s voice. The New Age Traveller movement was largely smashed by legislation and then co-opted under Blairism into the mainstream but left an appetite for great music but moreover angry protest in the UK which still keeps the police on its toes.

I’m not sure that the Biotruck will have much of a generational legacy, but the green movement, which like the hippy movement has an interest in bringing society closer to nature and away from consumption, better had. In the meantime I'm reclaiming the term Hippy.

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