When? Not If…

From time to time, I sit in my garden and ponder my good fortune. The air is clear enough to let me breathe without restriction, the sun’s rays do not cancerise my skin, the water is clean enough to drink. Plants grow, the birds sing and nest, the foxes and the smaller rodents go about their days trouble free.

But it doesn’t long for something to intrude on my quietude, possibly prompted by the recent Earth Day; recently it was a pandemic, now a European war, yet another political crisis that increases divides, a cost of living crisis that focuses us on the here and now.


When I first started this blog eight years ago, it was pretty frivolous, a bit of fiction, some trite humorous stories from my past, the odd review, the even odder attempts at cooking. But a year in, I wrote this. And seven years on it feels as distant and unreachable as ever. I make no (well few) apologises to re-share it, even if I’ve corrected the typos and improved the flow.


This planet of ours, all its many places, have felt man’s feet (man here encompassing all versions of humanity, for convenience). Nowhere hasn’t been colonised. The first homo sapiens put their mark, less deep than ours, no doubt, but the land came first and then we arrived, cutting, digging, cultivating and, often despoiling.

The diaspora from our original ancestors, forged in the crucible of East Africa, trod indifferently from the start. They did not have the accumulation of knowledge to do what we do today, but ancient man moved their own mountains.

And like the scamps in Oliver Twist, Nature ducked and dived and sought a way to survive in the world of indifferent men. She came again and again, clawing back lost ground only to be pushed away again. And again.

We, today’s guardians, stand on the shoulders of giants and yet we scour and scratch at Earth’s crust like a new scab. And we wonder at the wounds we cause, the suppurating  sickness we see and ignore. As with our hospitals, overdosed on antibiotics and once more losing out to cunning and resilient microbes, we stick plasters on our planet. And ignore the deeper malaise.

We ban smoking in public places yet we condemn the earth to the most egregious passive smoking, chimneys belching cancer planet wide. We sneer at the litterbugs, condemning such ignorance yet we globally litter our oceans in ways that mock our noble intentions.

This earth is one place, not a set of disconnected pieces. It is linked. It is Gaia. If we continue to toss trash over our neighbour’s fence, smoke in her face and not treat her, everyone, everywhere with a consistent respect then my children, and my children’s children will never be able to experience the joys of discovery that I have enjoyed.

The planet is a destination for us all. We roamed far and wide, trod heavily and in ignorance. But we are ignorant no longer. Look up people. The horizon isn’t, as the ancients had it, the end of the world. Their maps were wrong; the water didn’t pour off the edge into some sort of nothingness. One horizon is but the gateway to the next horizon, all of them but stepping stones back to the start. Unless we realise that soon, the ancients’ maps will be proved prescient in another way and it will be the end of the world: the water might not pour off the edge but be assured – on our current path Here Be Dragons.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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38 Responses to When? Not If…

  1. Steve Tanham says:

    Beautifully described, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Norah says:

    I’m so pleased you shared this post again, Geoff. I missed it the first time. Your message is so beautifully and powerfully expressed. It reads like a poem, which is not surprising with your being a poet, I guess.
    I am surprised that you have been blogging for only 8 years. I feel I have known you much longer than that. We must have meet pretty soon after you began because it is almost eight years since we met up in London. That seems so long and almost a different world away with all the events you describe at the beginning of your post.
    What a great eight blogging years. I’d use a different word, perhaps, to describe the reality years.
    Congratulations! Keep blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Geoff. Homo Sapiens hasn’t been here that long – compared to Homo Erectus we are comparative newcomers and are nowhere near their longevity so far. Sometimes it looks unlikely that we will last as long as they did, the way we carry on. It will take a massive emergency to get us to mend our ways. Unfortunately although the world is small, there are many worlds within it with varying priorities, and it will take a ginormous amount of co-operation and understanding of these to reach any sort of consensus that can be acted on. Less developed parts of the world cannot suddenly just stop developing. Somehow, though, I don’t feel as though Homo S. won’t manage to get sorted and I have faith in the future. And if we don’t, then maybe the next version of us will manage things better!
    Food for thought, as always. Well done on your 8 years!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      All true Gilly. Given how little time we’ve. Been here we’ve given the old place a fair old licking. Most of me thinks we will rise to the challenge and survive but not without a lot of pain. Here’s hoping anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. noelleg44 says:

    Beautifully articulated, Geoff. I have hope, though. People are waking up and there’s movement out there. Pray that it grows!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. willowdot21 says:

    True then, even more true now !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s hard to look/be out in a beautiful garden and not think about how privileged we are to inhabit this planet while worrying about how our many choices are hurting it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Still spot on, Geoff. Thanks for sharing it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Erika says:

    I can relate to that well. My blog turns 8 on Sunday too. So, yes, that was thought-provoking. A lot changed in those only 8 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. JT Twissel says:

    Well put. Too many of our fellow humans just don’t realize how tenuous life is on this planet. They think the bell tolls not for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A great post Geoff, which I’m seeing for the first time. There is a great deal to do, not just to stop the rot but to reverse it. It will cost a great deal of money and effort. It will mean that those less well off, worldwide, will have to be helped by those who are more than fortunate in what they have and how they live, and that means us. It will necessitate a lowering of expectations for all aspects of life and will be extremely hard for some (many) to accept. Despite being a lifelong optimist I am confident that I shall not see any of the major changes that are required being implemented in my lifetime, and that makes me very sad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Peter. We will have to do far better than now. I doubt we will kill ourselves off as a species but we will have to survive rough times before we come out the other side. And in doing so we will see changes unimaginable. Like you I’m an optimist but also not sure how this will unravel

      Liked by 1 person

  11. George says:

    Beautifully expressed, Geoff. I like how used the shape of the globe to illustrate how our actions come back to bite us.

    As a species, we have been around for the mere twinkling of an eye on a planet that existed for aeons before us and will continue for long after we have gone.

    Norman Nicholson concludes his book, The Lakes, with the hope that one day we will achieve a new synthesis of scientific and imaginative vision, and he says this:

    “Then perhaps, we may be able to look at the fells of Cumberland with a new understanding. For they rear themselves in the middle of our civilisation like an ancient boulder lying in a garden. An archaism, belonging to the world of nature as it was long before man came to look at it; belonging, also, to the world which will survive man. They are a sign both of what man comes from and what he is up against. They may be mapped, footpathed, sign-posted, planted with conifers, gouged with quarries, titivated with tea-shops. They may even, in some gigantic explosion, be blown out of shape. Yet they will remain the same, for they are a fact, a fact we cannot alter and perhaps cannot even understand. They are the past which shaped us and the future in which we shall have no shape. To talk of preserving them is both irrelevant and irreverent. All that matters is how long they will allow us to preserve ourselves”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      That’s a delightfully insightful quote. When 16 we studied poems in the Albemarle Book of Modern Verse for O level Eng Lit and Nicholson was one of those chosen. His Cleator Moor still resonates describing the pylons striding across the landscape. And in one poem the poppy shaking its pepper box of seed. I was just old enough to understand the beautiful imagery.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. V.M.Sang says:

    A wonderful post, Geoff. I didn’t know you when you posted it, but I’m so glad you reposted it here, now. This needs to be said over and over again by multitudes of people.
    The biggest problem is short termism. Governments, industry magnums and others with power don’t really care about future generations, just keeping their power NOW, with their big salaries. And governments think to the next election, and keeping in power.
    I don’t know what the answer is, except that when I get back from holiday, I will be reblogging this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks for the reblog (to be!) Viv. The dichotomy that sits between indifferent autocrats who fear no public condemnation so plough on regardless and democratic politicians who think in terms of months and focus groups doesn’t lend itself to optimism that until things are appalling in their own backyard will they act

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I wouldn’t have even known you existed when you posted this the first time, Geoff. Delighted that’s been put right, of course, and so glad you shared it again. Not, sadly, that anything seems to have changed since then. A lot of words, but nothing more. Still, we can all try in our own ways.

    Liked by 1 person

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