4 October 2005

Spike’s asleep. I took him swimming this morning, so there’s a chance he’ll stay asleep for a few minutes. There’s a strange link between this computer and his head which causes him to wake up as soon as the machine is turned on.

Where to start? Hello, I’m Jo Wilding. I’m newly a mum – my son is Spike, 3 months old. I’m nearly a lawyer - finished my law exams 2 weeks before he was born, so will be a barrister as soon as I get around to filling in all the forms and being called to the bar – of which more later in the blog.

I did a masters degree in exercise and health science in 1996-97 and discovered that the real causes of ill health were much less the individual lifestyle choices – diet, exercise, etc – and much more the collective political factors – proximity to a nuclear power station, out of town supermarkets causing your local shops to shut down, privatisation of your public transport, the planning system, car culture and so on.

So instead of looking for jobs in health promotion I became an environmental activist. By the way, here in Bristol the wind blows directly towards us from the nuclear chimneys at Oldbury Power Station about one day in five. In Stroud, where my two step sons live, it’s 3 days in five.

From there I got involved with Iraq – I was outraged by the devastation the sanctions were causing while most of us knew nothing about them. Tony Blair paid Bristol a visit and some friends and I pelted him with squashy fruit, shouting "How many kids have you killed in Iraq this week Tony?" – the answer would have been about 1250. An afternoon in a police cell was well worth it to see that question on the front of every newspaper in the morning.

I went to Iraq to break the sanctions, taking in contraband paediatric medical training CD Roms and such like, and to hear what was happening to ordinary people, sandwiched between Saddam and the UK / US backed sanctions.

I went back in Feb 2003, staying for the month before the invasion and the first 11 days of the bombing, documenting civilian casualties and talking to people, getting their stories and passing them on via internet, which is how my blog started. After that the Iraqi foreign ministry kicked me out.

In November 2003 I returned, staying for 6 months, this time to set up solidarity projects between people in Iraq and outside – links between doctors, students, etc, so people could communicate and help Iraqis rehabilitate their libraries, universities, hospitals, etc, bypassing the war profiteering companies and big NGOs – more on mutual aid as opposed to charity later in the blog as well, if the Little Man permits.

I also set up a small circus, prompted by a tiny boy whose home, family and face had been ripped apart by a US rocket, fired at a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.  During the Falluja siege in April 2004 I and some others helped bring medical supplies, escort ambulances and evacuate civilians trapped in the town when the US troops had cut off food supplies, electricity (and with it water) and roads.

That’s enough for an introduction I think. Lots more about Iraq later in the blog and also about the inalienable right to breastfeed in any public place, the need to get cars off pavements and practical means of undermining the oil-based economy.

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