Just stop it

The protesters interrupting play have a problem

by Black Sheep, 17th July 2023

The protesters interrupting play have an identity crisis

Sorry. I can’t stay quiet any longer. I’m going to have to have my say about those idiots at Just Stop Oil.

It’s not their policies, you understand. Some of my best friends want to save the world. I’m probably on the same page as most people in that respect. Including all those at Wimbledon, Lord’s and The Chelsea Flower Show this summer.

I mean, we’re all as green as the next man, naturally. The environment comes first, of course. The planet is everything. Goes without saying. But, you know, stop spoiling things, will you? It’s just not cricket.

Thing is, I’m as okay with Just Stop Oil’s cheeky protests as I am with their policies. In fact I find them rather amusing. The sight of England’s wicket keeper catching one protester and carrying him off the pitch will live in the memory for many a year. If for no other reason than it was pretty much the only thing Jonny Bairstow caught all match.

As for scattering confetti and jigsaw pieces all over a Wimbledon tennis court, that was deserving of some sort of surrealist art prize, instead of the ridiculous comments from Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who branded the stunt “unacceptable” and “selfish”.

“The protesters were determined to ruin the day's play for spectators and sports fans across the world,” she tub-thumped, when in truth the day’s play was held up far more by rain than confetti.

Also, Suella, much as we may hold Wimbledon in high regard, the idea that sports fans worldwide were concerning themselves with a first-round match on Court 18 is somewhat hopeful.

Anyway, if it’s not their policies that irk me, and it’s not their protests, then what do I have against Just Stop Oil? Their slovenly appearance?

Well, no, not that either. In fact their white t-shirts with JUST STOP OIL emblazoned in big black letters are wonderfully evocative of the 80s, don’t you think?. So much so they’ve had me rummaging around the loft looking for my old FRANKIE SAYS RELAX t-shirt.

No, the big problem I’ve got with Just Stop Oil is their name. I mean, think about it? How exactly do you go about ‘stopping’ oil. It’s like saying, Just Stop Air, or Just Stop Rain.

It’s not oil’s fault that the planet’s on its knees. In fact it’s the planet that created oil. It’s creating it now, out of dead organisms. You, sir, might even be oil one day.

Admittedly most of the stuff we’ve been burning for energy dates back a few hundred million years, and in theory we could run out. But with the process ongoing, even if by some miracle we do manage to wean ourselves off the dino juice, you can bet your life that by the year 250,002,023 some clever sod with a drill will have dug down to the Twitterzoic era and initiated the whole disastrous process all over again.

So you see, the issue here isn’t about oil itself. It’s about the extraction of oil. Which is why I think Just Stop Oil need a re-think.

Call me a pedant, but their demand makes no sense. A bit like Speed Kills. It took the wit of Jeremy Clarkson to point out to road-safety campaigners that it isn’t actually speed that kills. It’s the sudden stopping.

Names aren’t easy, of course. And I’m well aware that ever since Dominic Cummings crawled out from under a rock, three-word slogans have been all the rage. It’s going to take a few years yet to erase the likes of Get Brexit Done and Hands Face Space from our memories. I accept, also, that Just Stop Drilling might not go down too well with DIY types.

By the same token I’m not suggesting Just Stop Oil rename themselves Just Stop Licensing All New Oil, Gas And Coal Projects For The Sake Of The Children. That’s a bit of a mouthful, I’ll grant you.

But surely something like Stop Burning Fossil Fuels isn’t too much of a stretch? Or, for something a bit angrier, The Anti-Fossil Fuel League perhaps.

Alternatively, for a pressure group that urges us all to go green for a peaceful future, they could always call themselves… 

Hang on, isn’t somebody else already doing this?

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