Thursday, February 08, 2007

tearing off tights with my teeth
Last night I had insomnia. My mind was freewheeling down country lanes of thought to an internal soundtrack of Faithless and generic country noises (Essential Sounds of Ambridge CD BBC Audio Collection – yes, it really exists). I was trying to think happy, de-stressing thoughts to decompress and relax after an intensely long and stressful urban worker day, but sadly my happy thoughts were too exciting.
Counting sheep, pigs, cows, geese, ducks, chickens and guinea fowl led to thinking about menu ideas for my smallholding cum B&B enterprise. Porridge slowly melting to perfection in the Aga overnight; crispy home-reared, brined and smoked bacon; freshly laid eggs scrambled with a touch of cream; stone-ground wholemeal sourdough rolls created by my own fair hand slathered with home-churned butter and rich, bitter marmalade; a dark china pot of steaming English Breakfast on a oak table – who wouldn’t want to pay to stay with me?
Sometimes guests might be treated to an evening meal, perhaps it could be a regular Saturday night event with diners joining the table from the nearby villages. My mouth filled with saliva and my palms itched with the cheffy possibilities of organic, home-grown produce.
I could organise country walks with Skyepup and my other dogs for the visitors – we could have chestnutting weekends and return to an open fire to roast them. I could be known for my idiosyncratic taste in wellington boots and emphasis on homely comforts. People would be amazed to learn that once upon a time I’d spent eight years living and working in London – the posh client dinners, the cocktails, the backstabbing, greasy-pole climbing, the politics and everyday pollution of skin and soul. The cruelty of concrete and barbarity of bricks. Hours spent staring at a screen in a production line that doesn’t produce anything.
Making empty small talk last night in an overcrowded, over-hyped and overpriced Italian chi-chi restaurant with perfectly pleasant people doesn’t sound like work, does it? But free dinners aren’t free is you’re a wage slave, or rather they are but you aren’t. Buried among the puppy stories, the shop talk and the empty pleasantries was a shocking kernel of self-realisation. “I’m embracing a premature middle age!” I laughingly explained as I related how much I’m looking forward to heading to the Isle for a few days to take Skye for runs on the beach.
Thinking it through more deeply now I can admit to myself that it’s not that I’m embracing a premature middle age, rather it’s that I’m thinking about ways of rejecting London’s “creative” circus and its associated value system. Sitting here in my long skirt, brown boots and cardigan – doing just enough to “pass” as an office worker – and helping a soon-to-be-ex-colleague cope with the redundancy process, I’m plotting my escape (again).

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