Friday, January 20, 2012


My parents now live an odd, yet beautiful place. There's a cafe on the seafront, there are regular steamtrains, and the cat loves sitting in the garden staring with lazy, curious hunger at nothing in particular.

All these things are good... but, after a few days, it gets to you a bit. My mother has started behaving oddly. Always a bit "old-fashioned" in her views (describing the local pharmacist as "a lovely little brown fellow, as chocolate as you like. What? They're always laughing those people..."), she's started saying some things which... well, are actually racist. We were watching Countryfile (I know!) the other day and, when a Polish expert on canal-side microbiology was interviewed, she announced loudly, "Disgusting! Why couldn't that job have gone to someone local? Eh? Eh?"

It's not excusable, but it is at last explicable. I discovered the fire bucket was full of pamphlets from those weird political parties you hear about but don't-quite-believe-in. With names like "Campaign for a cleaner britain". One of the leaflets was about "Overcrowded UK". You don't get things like this in the city - but in the countryside (which is bloody empty) these parties are everywhere. My mother doesn't actually read them (her glaucoma is so advanced she no longer reads), but, as she's lighting the fire with the damn things, she glances at the headlines and it confirms Her Worst Suspicions about the world.

While it's rather wonderful here, it's odd like that. There's a sign on the local charity shop which says "YOUR HOSPICE - YOU'LL BE SURPRISED" which sums it up, really. After a week here, I've started doing the "country laugh" where you'll finish a sentence ("It's warm today, isn't it?") with a little jovial chuckle. This lovely little town is full of people greeting each other with the country laugh ("Musn't grumble - hee hee hee") and pottering about like Second Victims on an ITV3 show. I'm watching a lot of ITV3. That and property shows.

I do rather love it here. But I'd also quite like... yes, I'd very much like to go home soon. Still, mustn't grumble, eh? ha ha.


ani said...

OK - so you may be getting this post twice. Apologies if that occurs, it's just that the screen disappeared half way through the verification in my first attempt to comment.

In the first instance i'd like to say that i'm not a writer and have some concern that the tone of my comment may not be well conveyed. Indeed i fear that my comment comes with a jovial chuckle at the end.

I enjoyed reading your countryside post which contained nothing i don't recognise and which seemed to me to portray truths. However, it made me sad. i love rural living. It is undoubtedly true that the nature of my friendships differs from those i had when i was a city dweller. There my friends and i were like-minded. Here i've formed friends with those with whom i act in common tackling rural poverty in credit unions, combating rural stress and attempting to alleviate mental illness, volunteering in conservation projects. My friends are people with whom i do things, even if we do them for different reasons. If i waited to meet with like-minded people in this rural area i would be very very lonely.

I do not think i am unaware of racism here. I'm certainly aware of the pamphlets of weird political groups who have particular views of 'Britishness'. And what makes me angry is that these groups, it seems to me, take opportunities to propogate their views among the disaffected white working class seemingly abandoned by traditional Labour and ripe to be sold a particular construction of 'the problem'.

I struggle to comprehend that these groups and their pamphlets don't exist in the cities, such is the extent of their normality here (though they are not without opposition and resistance). Do you think, perhaps, they are a feature of once industrialised (now post industrial?) nothern towns?

Anyway, it is as ever, very good to read your work. Thank you.


JahTeh said...

Since going into the 'Home' my mother's brain has made a return visit and does she give merry hell to anyone who makes a racist remark about her Asian nurses.
It's a weird thing to go from having a batty old bag for a mother to someone who has the only functioning brain in a group of 30 batty old bags.