Pre-dawn in the coalfields

It’s 2.30 in the morning and I know there’s not going to be much sleep for me tonight. I’m lying in a field of stubbled wheat somewhere in the Rhineland. On my leg I’ve etched a number in permanent marker – the hotline to the legal team for when I get arrested. You get two phone calls in custody. The second will be to my wife and daughter.

We arrived here as the early evening sun made beauty of the Rhineland, bathing gold the power stations and wind turbines which stand side by side. The future standing against a present which needs to be past. But now it is long since dark. I look out from my tent and see the red lights of nearby cooling towers blink a repetitive warning. A police van cruises quietly by. Above, the night sky is dramatically clear, and stray meteors fall with abandon. I imagine there are many of us who have made wishes on them tonight.

It’s been a long evening of meetings to discuss tactics as we try to second guess what the army of police and security personnel are going to do. The broader picture of the action, none of our team know. We may be around 1,000 in number, but the mine has 800 private guards, and the police outnumber us two to one.

As you’d expect, there’s a degree of apprehension. I’m not even excited any more – just tired and raw. But my emotional landscape has simplified, probably due to my adrenal gland giving up with exhaustion. Yet still there’s no sleep. Just a long, ponderous night to lie through, waiting and waiting and waiting for dawn.


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