Monday, 9 December 2013

High winds and shopping....

Although the ash and sycamores have long been bare, there was still a feint rustle of oak leaves to be heard in these parts - that is until last week. The latest spate of autumnal blasts has stripped what was left  - and took my fence down too. But we had it fairly easy here - I saw the pictures on TV of some of the coastal floods.

I ventured out for a short ride on my old bike - it was a bright morning and I headed on a tour of familiar villages in a circular route designed to be not too taxing. My mileage has been pathetic for more than a month. I feel almost angry with myself for not getting out more but I counter that with the logic that I simply haven't had the time or space. Nevertheless it's a disappointment - in fact most of this year has been a struggle when I recollect. Soon will be the time for resolutions - I already know what mine needs to be - add to that a challenge for 2014 and I hope to get myself back on course.

Meanwhile I struggle up a series of short sharp gradients. I stop at the top of the final one, to survey the scene, or to catch my breath. The horizon shimmers like a distant sea and a couple of jackdaws tumble and call from a church tower. As I pass through quiet streets I wonder where everyone is. I've barely seen a soul all morning. The villages are still, quiet, no sign of anyone. It occurs to me that had I been passing through 50 years ago it would have been a much different scene. There would have been life, shops, traders - people going about their daily business. Every village had a bakery, a butcher, a greengrocer, a blacksmith maybe, and many other trades that made up the community. Now there is, for the most part, nothing. If you're lucky a newsagent. And towns seem to be following the same path. So many boarded up premises, the ubiquitous charity and fried chicken shops seem to be the only ones that can survive. I wonder if we'll ever kick back and realise that in the end people need a community - or at least to feel like they live as part of one. Independent shops help to provide that.

I'm as guilty as everyone else for shopping online and driving to the supermarket - but if there were more local outlets I'd definitely use them. I used to think that big shopping centres were the future - now I think perhaps we should look to the past if we're to move forward - to the old model of a high street, a town centre that had everything you needed, nearby, all in one place - smaller not bigger. Smaller but better.

As I approach home the sky shines with golden vapour trails like veils of lace as the sun dips behind a scatter of clouds. The whole landscape is flushed with a fresh radiance as the light moves along, a transient loveliness that makes me smile. Now I have to go shopping.

No comments:

Post a Comment