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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dear diary ...

What a lot has happened since Brexit! Fear not, I wasn't eaten alive by angry remainers, but instead put my money where my mouth was - so to speak. I had no money but through my work with ReSpace Projects - and a very kind endorsement from Sian Berry - I won a scholarship to Westminster University to take a Masters in Energy and Environmental Change.

Good decision. I highly recommend the course and hope the next intake of students features more than one Brit. Graphic design will only take the country so far ...  After dabbling in energy markets, international law, global politics, planning and energy transitions, I focused my attention on community energy initiatives generating renewable energy in London. The brief glimpse I saw into energy economics and financial markets was remarkable in one respect; the disconnect from reality was obvious, even to a student.

This is not to say I understood half of what was going on in these lectures; things are kept about as difficult for a layperson to understand as possible, but the gist seemed to be that markets were all guess-work, not least because of unpredictable 'black swans'.

"Such as 911?" I ask.

We then tip toe down a path discussing who might have known what about such an unexpected event - and who might have invested in particular markets. Without meaning to imply disrespect for the lecturer, the fact that after this discussion we simply carried on learning about what we had all just agreed was a dangerous farce - as if there was no problem with this and no alternatives - felt very disconcerting. The Bloomberg financial suite is also bizarre - in particular the news headlines which run across the screen giving the very latest need-to-know for the money men. Such as Beyonce's new haircut ... living the dream guys.

It was during the uni trip to Brussels that I felt most redeemed in my Brexit decision. We met with the Head of Trade at the European Parliament and afterwards got to ask questions. I asked about the human and environmental implications of TTIP and my uni colleagues later remarked to me that he seemed unable to answer me. The thing that stuck out for me - although not until a week later - was how in response to my question about human rights, he had replaced 'human' with 'consumer. Consumer rights. This is a dangerous switch and one which is evidently being pursued at the top. Brexit - hard, soft or even just respectful and mature - could be a chance to avoid the systematic destruction of human, animal and environmental rights.