I escaped. I slipped out of the house and left the computer sitting there chained to the desk. I had five days without email, social media or anything, linked to the world by an elderly mobile phone whose number no-one knows and which can barely cope with text.
Ok it was more of a rail trip but what’s in a name. But anyway, suddenly two trips come up at once. Meeting in London on the Thursday (but had to travel down on Tuesday to meet up with friends) then meeting in Barnsley on the Friday and Saturday.
It’s amazing what you see when you travel; all sorts of details which go together to highlight the big picture. Like the slim lady of a certain age who managed to wear the clothes of someone twenty years younger with no problem at all. But combining them with a drawn face and pixie boots meant she looked like the wicked queen of all the fairies which I don’t think was the look she was after. Then as I crossed the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral there was one Chinese girl (she was at that age where you stop saying girl and start saying young woman) sitting on the steps explaining to a contemporary that Jesus isn’t an institution you join but an individual you meet in person. There were two gay men kissing goodbye on Leeds station, the taxi driver in Barnsley who has almost paid off his mortgage and for whom wealth is £150 a week after car expenses have been paid.
If you walk and keep your eyes open then the strange steps out to meet you. I once did a walk that took me round all the Hawkmoor churches (I didn’t bother with the one at Greenwich) which is worth doing. On another trip I was down on the embankment by Cleopatra’s needle. I watched one of the homeless light two cigarettes, smoke one and drop the other through a hole torn by shrapnel into a bronze sphinx.
I ate fish and chips in a chippy in Barnsley. Whilst I was sitting on one of the seats they’d put out on the pavement I could hear everyone else’s orders. In fifteen minutes over lunchtime the standard meal was ‘chips, mushy peas and scraps’, ‘chips and gravy’ or ‘chip butty’. All this to live music as Barnsley was teeming with singing groups who persevered in spite of the drear weather and lack of amplification.
So now I’m back, the computer is switched on, the email downloaded, social media re-engaged. Normality has been restored, I suppose.
Normal might not be a good thing. From Amazon as a paperback or ebook
And from everybody else
As a reviewer commented, “This is the third collection of farmer Jim Webster’s anecdotes about his sheep, cattle and dogs. This one had added information on the Lake District’s World Heritage status. This largely depends upon the work of around 200 small family farms. Small may not always be beautiful but it can be jolly important. If you want to know the different skills needed by a sheep dog and a cow dog, or to hear tales of some of the old time travelling sales persons – read on! This is real life, Jim, but not as I know it.”