That’s the countryside for you.
I stifle the urge to roll my eyes.
Making faces at OH’s back is rude. The wind may change and then I’ll be left looking like Kermit in a bad wig. Worse than that though, I know I am sounding less than upbeat myself
Nobody likes listening to a litany of whinges, unless, of course, they can join in.
Writing this post, then, may be a bit of a mistake. Even if I don’t incite a lynch mob, and I avoid the village stocks, I risk sounding like a paler, less witty, version of Liz Jones.
That’s the countryside for you, OH opines again.
Come-what-may, however, I have to exorcise those words. The saying has become a sort of default setting for OH, trotted out whenever I get onto either of my two current bête noirs, next-door’s chicken and (chicken apart) how quiet the Hamlet is.
You remind me of those City women. You know the sort. OH pauses for maximum effect. They think the world ends with the North Circular.
A one-time resident of Surrey, I relax a bit. OH, however, knows how to twist the knife.
One moment, they can’t survive without their 24/7 delis, their double skinny espresso caramel mocha lattes and their spelt and pumpkin seed breakfast muffins. Then they turn thirty. Their biological clock kicks in, their hormones balance out the caffeine and all the bullshit, and they start talking about work life balance.
And what happens next? He asks.
I stay silent. I let him vent. It’s healthy. Besides, I know where this is going.
They move to the countryside. They buy a house next to the village church. Then they spend Sunday mornings complaining about the bells waking them up.
Fair enough. At least, OH is right about the coffee. And, despite some initial dark fantasies (which had started to morph into a feathery splatter movie featuring the George Clooney incarnation of Fantastic Mr Fox), I’m getting used to the chicken.
I know that the chicken, like the bells, were here first. I get it. They’re here to stay. I just hope that, one day, their squawking will wash over me, as the rattle of underground trains once did. (If not, I suspect that the chickens will outlast me).
Autumn, any way, is bringing its own comforts. By the time I get back from the morning school run, the chickens have usually quietened down. Instead, I find myself pausing to talk to the cows, and their lumbering calves, before going indoors
An early symptom of Cabin Fever, perhaps, I don’t mention this to OH. I do mention the unremitting quiet.
You see, the Hamlet really is the Middle of Nowhere, but with a road running through it. Nothing happens. A car shunt, a stray commuter braking suddenly to avoid a tractor or disappearing into the mother of all pot holes, is about as exciting as it gets.
But… that’s the countryside.
Bells, screaming chicken, deadly silence, mist floating over the empty fields. (In my more fanciful moments, I imagine myself trapped in a post-apocalypse world populated only by mutant cockerels and Fourtrak-driving zombies).
None of this, however, apparently, matters to OH. The countryside, whether noisy, or dull, is exempt from any criticism because….well…it’s the countryside.
There’s no community, I chirp up. Community, I know, is a good word. Inwardly I congratulate myself on having got my point across without mentioning the absence of decent Broadband, patisseries and nail bars once.
OH, however, has an answer, and, for once, he’s not stuck in his countryside as higher order loop.
Why don’t you give the village coffee morning a go?
Now a while back, I would have filed his suggestion away with the invitation from the WI to dress up in a pirate theme and join them singing sea shanties. It would hit the recycle pile faster than the flyers from the PCC asking us to spend Sunday morning checking the highway verges for ragwort.
However, even the most fiercely independent woman has to question the quality of her social life when she spends a fair chunk of the day talking to animals.
It’s at the Black Hart, OH adds, so they’ll probably have proper coffee…
Well, that wins my heart, if not my mind. Friday is coffee morning, then.
It’s hardly Gawker material. However, at least I now have something to tell the cows.
More tales from the Hamlet soon. There may even be a shot of espresso.