Having sold the van I’m now consigned to public transport. I came down on the train for the first time in years. I’d thought Castle Cary was much further away - the same distance Bath is - but it’s only 10 miles. Dad was there to pick me up - just like when I was in my early 20s! It was a really nice journey on a new train. My noise-cancelling headphones and a half-full carriage added to the quality of the journey.
Dad chose a really dumb way to go back. I wanted to go back through the pretty villages of Croscombe and Dulcote for old times’ sake. I used to cycle to see friends who lived there. Bike lights back then had about as much illumination as a cigarette. I never got run over, but I did end up in ditches a couple of times.
Instead we went back through country A-roads with high hedges and littered for miles. With the detritus poured out of vehicles by scum.
Long-haired hippy bastard!!
What can I tell you about this place? Well it’s changed and I’ve changed. We’ve changed. More populous, more affluent and at the same time more down and outs. Visible heroin problem and lots of mental heath issues. The 2 are not necessarily mutually exclusive of course.
I realise this is par for the course for almost every developed country in the Western World, but hey.
I know very few people here now. It always amazed me who came back, not who stayed. When I left and being a creature of habit, I never wanted to leave, yet I ended up in London, dirt-poor, looking for work. But it was so exciting and vibrant. To a young person it was great. No one calling me out for looking different, no one trying to ruin mine and my friends’ evening because it was their way of feeling better about themselves. In fact, lots of people like me, relishing their new found anonymity and that no one else gave much of a fuck either. No one was going to try and ruin your day. There were lots of people much more edgy than me so I really truly was a minnow in an ocean. Bliss.
Freedom in other words; a chance to reinvent oneself. I shone brightly for a few years, thankfully realising there was no place for me in the world of advertising - despite having won an award as a student - and then after an epiphany and retraining to be a stonemason, I found that the umbilical cord I thought had long-gone snapped me back home like a bungee and I got a job in a local stonemasonry banker shop - the only positive reply I received from a dozen letters, and so I returned, churning out stones in factory conditions at £4.15 per hour in 1996. A 39 hour week meant I would have a net pay of £130 if memory serves. And the place was like Lord of the Flies with the chosen alphas at the top who would give beatings out to the apprentices, but had their favourite - a surly little bastard just like them. They’d call it toxically male these days.
I spent a year there an then went to a much nicer place in Shepton Mallet which produced a far better quality of work.
But I digress. It’s strange moving back to a small place when all your peers have left as well. It’s like the heart and soul of Eden has just disapperaed making it feel like a semblance of itself. There are people who never left who can be quite resentful that you were ‘disloyal’ as they see it. I find the patheticness of that really funny.
It’s also funny - to me at least - that the biggest rebel I know returned there. I know she’s told me why but I can’t remember and I think the reason that I can’t is that I could never truly get my head round why.
Brain not compute…brain not compute…
So after 2 1/2 years I packed everything in and moved back to London, but that’s another story.
Modern life IS rubbish (but it has its compensations)
I’m at the cafeteria of The Bishop’s Palace having a vegan sandwich. I’m not a vegan but I’ve developed an intolerance to lactose. It’s an age thing, you see.
Middle-classed hippies with their home-schooled boundary-free kids running and screaming at the other end of the restaurant. I’m here at the furthest end from them, safe with my coffee and cake with my noise-cancelling headphones.
|What would I do without you…?
You probably need a product demonstration. In fact, you definitely do if you haven’t put a pair on. Unless you’re already hard of hearing which I would say is a far better place than being hypersensitive to noise.
I should have been in advertising.
Even the people I know who went into it regret it.
Stonemasonry was the least worst way of earning a living I ever found. I tried a lot of different things see. I would have much preferred to be a trustafarian just doing course after course. Loved learning new things.
Maybe in the next life.