“I love Greta Thunberg,” my little friend Zandra sighs breathlessly. “Seriously, I am such a Greta fan. I am just, like, the hugest Greta fan. God, I love her. Do you love her, Jacinta?”
I nod half-heartedly. The truth is, I am not sure what I think about Greta Thunberg. I think she’s right, of course. I think she’s kind of inspirational. I like her face when she’s angry and I love her face when she’s smiling. I think the people who hate her are a bit weird – the people who say she has Down syndrome, or this boy I knew from high school who called her the c-word. Really weird, I can’t get my head around hating a kid that much. I don’t think they’re evil – and I guess before Trump, before Brexit, I would’ve totally thought they were evil. But I don’t think they’re evil. Just weirdly confused.
And I’ll admit that I do also think to myself, sometimes: she is just a kid. She shouldn’t be this important. It’s too much for her. She’s gonna end up like Macaulay Culkin! Thoughts like that make me not want to use the word ‘love’ to describe my feelings for her. She’s just a kid. She’s obviously a good kid. But still.
“I admire her a lot,” I say shakily. I sound a bit like the Queen when Princess Diana died and the day before her funeral she said she had always thought she was a remarkable person.
“But she has made life harder for us, hasn’t she?” Zandra semi-mouths the words at me, as if everyone else in this hipster porridge shop is eavesdropping. “God, life was easier before she came along! We could get coffee WHENEVER we wanted it. Just go to Starbucks, get a cappuccino, walk along with the paper cup in your hand like…”
“Ally McBeal?” I supply helpfully, Zandra shoots me a confused look. I have, I notice, fallen down the generation gap.
“Like you didn’t have a care in the world! Now if you’ve forgotten your porcelain cup at home, you have to literally die of thirst because drinking out of a disposable cup would make you die of embarrassment anyway. Drop cigarettes on the floor. I dropped so many cigarettes before Greta Thunberg came along. I sprinkled cigarette butts behind me like…”
“Hansel and Gretel when they go to the forest the first time? With the stones,” I supply helpfully.
“And Christmas presents!” Zandra shouts. “What the fuck am I meant to give people for Christmas now? Gifts have to be ethical, sustainable – gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and thoughtful! You can’t give people shower gel or bubble bath anymore! Plastic packaging! Greta, and I love her more than life itself, has literally ruined everything. Including Christmas.”
“Bio shower gel in a glass bottle?” I suggest. “Or what about one of those soap bars from Lush? I would love a soap bar from Lush.”
Zandra looks at me wild with anger, kind of like Greta Thunberg at the UN.
“Yes,” she says. “Because I am literally a millionaire, Jacinta.”
“Just get them some wine,” I said. “Like some cheap wine from Aldi, scrape the label off and then wrap a bit of brown paper around it and everyone will think you got it from some kind of really specialist organic wine shop.”
“I’m going to donate money to Greenpeace for everyone,” Zandra says.
“Oh, that’s a good idea!” I say.
Zandra smiles one of her wickedly satisfied smiles.
“I know,” she says. “Even Greta Thunberg would approve. And you know how I feel about Greta, don’t you? I literally love her.”