Saturday, 28 July 2012
There are some of us that were raised in the countryside and feel familiar and safe in this slower pace and relaxed lifestyle.
Those that begrudgingly commutes to the towns and cities. They silently pine like 'a dog in an outhouse' at the scenery that they leave behind viewed either from the window of a train or car as they go to work. Watching how far too quickly the serene arable fields and trees become harsh contrasting blankets of concrete and glass.
It is in that journey that they let go or release a part of who they really are, but they can't forget what is left behind.
I am one such person. I stand in a town for a while and I survey the people, the buildings and I listen. Before long I feel very alone, that I'm not there, not part of this hustle and bustle. I watch people hurrying along to banks, to shops or to catch that ever so important bus often oblivious to the traffic or the risks. I hear snippets of conversations either as they walk by me or on the bus. It might just be one sentence I catch. It sounds so petty or of no relevance to me but the tones and audibility or volume that is portrayed either to another person next to them or down a mobile phone to a friend, it is obviously important to them. Other sounds of traffic, the sirens, the horns, the thunderous roar...plays like a monotonous drone continuously looped on a tape cassette. It quickens the heartbeat and governs the speed of people's lives and I hate it.
Visually the lights do nothing to soften the pace. Neon lights advertising shop displays provoking minds with words like 'offer', 'discount' or 'free'. Subliminal and optical messages telling us where, how and when to 'go', what to wear, what to eat or how to look. Traffic and brake lights telling us to wait, stop or go. Horns hooted to remind us that we are not moving fast enough or not conforming to urban pace. I would love to click my fingers and stop everything just for a second. Just to shout "WHY?!"
I guess its why I am good at my job. My town of work is notoriously known as "God's waiting room" subject to the fact that the population of pensioners that inhabit it far outnumber any other. But I take time to smile, to allow time for them and to talk. I like pensioners. To me, they are like books. Each one a story that cannot be judged by their frail and sometimes damaged covers. They move at a pace more realistic to the speed of my rural demeanor. They are calmer, more resilient than we give them credit for if only let down by their frail bodies.
I was often subject to teasing from school tutors and pupils about being brought up in the sticks and names like 'carrot cruncher' and 'farmer Giles' would echo in classrooms and halls not to mention my head and this in time only fueled such feelings of not belonging or not wanting to be accepted by the urban community.
I'm not saying I was a loner but I grew up with a feeling deep inside that I didn't conform to this way of life, that I didn't want to.
I remember having a friend home from school one Saturday, and took him around my stomp, to give him a glimpse of what I did when not at school, to show what's great about living 'in the sticks'.
On his arrival I had chores to attend and he couldn't believe I was allowed to use an axe. I think we spent an hour splitting logs and transporting them in a barrow to the wood shed. He took delight at this, to me anyway, menial task. Afterwards we took the dog out for a run and I showed him around. The farm, the woods and later the river. We climbed haystacks and trees, made dutch arrows and fired an old bb air pistol at matches on a post for a while before journeying to the lock for a swim in the river. We lit a fire to dry ourselves and made a wigwam in the wood, before heading back for supper.
Afterwards I walked him across the field to the bus stop and waited with him til it came.
I remember him asking me, "What else do you do?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well" he said "I've really enjoyed today but is there anything else?"
"That's the thing about the countryside" I replied, "there's nothing to do and plenty of room to do it in".
"Eh? I don't understand what you mean" he said.
"Never mind, your bus is here, catch you Monday at school".
He never asked to come back unfortunately but I guess it must be in your blood and you either love it or hate it.
Anyway, I guess I'd better get ready for another day in the urban jungle. A place where all the seasons seem the same throughout the year.