HOME – REDUX

7 Mar

 

 It isn’t rolling hills of carpeted green, nor is it the crystal clarity of babbling brooks and picture-postcarded waterfalls. The Kodak moment is gone – fizzed and flashed in extinguished chemical illumination, the retina-burnt image of time-worn memory. The depths of culture and history you’ll find in other towns and cities can’t be found around these parts no matter how deep you dig, and the ballet and opera are mere optimistic figments of performance imagination.

            No page goes wasted in the travelogues that ignore us, and the Lonely Planet isn’t a lonelier place for not making our acquaintance. The sun doesn’t break whimsically above thick-limbed trees; and when the rain falls, it doesn’t shimmer, nor does it refresh cool green grass. It pisses down – puddling and morassing village-squared greenery allowing for duck dominance until it once again shrivels and evaporates in what passes for Indian summer sunshine. There are no red-carpeted galas to flaunt faux fashion; the impecuniosity of wealth and dearth of celebrity make for scant headlines and lack of journalistic interest.

            The paparazzi don’t have us on their itinerary!

            World travellers and jungle adventurers ignore our whistle-stop station, their mind’s eye fixed on far horizons and yet to be discovered whatevers. The only local event worthy of historical retrospect is no longer taught to eager children but remains book-bound in the newly improved, government-regulated schools. No contrails stripe our skies, and we’re not on the departure board down at Heathrow. You won’t hear our average daily temperature gleefully town-cried by pregnant weathergirls on the evening news. Our travel center is a deserted bus stop with a one-way timetable to Anywhere but Here – the last traveler already having exited stage left. Love has left and is lost, never to return. When romancing the stone, our dry-walled boundaries neither acquiesce nor do they requite.

            The low of our farm-yarded husbandry isn’t the call of the wild, and vaunted stabled nativity occur the other side of imagination. No wandering stars, no wise men, no invading armies – popular uprising lies snoring in an unmade bed. Only the shrill whistle of wind rushing down highways and byways serves to recollect, before disappearing to God only knows where via abandoned public footpaths. No cries for change, liberty, or justice – the echo of disinterest falling on deaf ears.

            Society has left us behind, the cutting edge of everything having blunted itself on dull tiled roof tops reflecting grey skies. If artistic endeavor had ever been licensed, then it would have been the mono-chromists and not the impressionists that soiled their singularly splattered canvas. Not so much a patchwork of fields and forests, more a patch on an otherwise perfect pair of jeans. The unshone shoe standing out among paraded polished footwear, foiled by its own dull inadequacy rather than eclipsed by the brilliance of others.

            Listed on the menu as the chef’s surprise, never the dish of the day; forever the wedding crasher, never the invited. The last fingered delicacy at a children’s party; the silver foiled wedding cake that molders and spoils in the back of the larder. Passed over for cellophane wrapped, supermarket store-bought brilliance, before being thrown into the existential pedal bin of life.

            The uninvited guest, the blood stain on freshly laundered underwear.

           If it had a smell it would be vaguely familiar but unremarkable. Car farted flatulence, yesterday’s takeaway; the stench of tide-drawn mud and the street-level choke of smokeless fuel and burned wood. Boiled cabbage and cremated offerings adding their aroma to the buffet of industrialized dormitory living. Never more the glory of mother’s cooking, but the half remembrance of plates past and meals left to spoil on mismatched crockery. The squeezed and emptied condiment bottle, the wind-borne crisp packet, the discarded Styrofoam container – a forgotten eye sore, once so necessary but now just so bloody useless.

            So if that’s the case, why is it that I yearn to return to this forgotten, much maligned agrarian dystopia?

            Why do I treasure the golden age of rural disfunctionality with such spectacular rose-colored clarity and candy-striped fondness? I would give anything to wander its streets and lanes – walk its fields, wait in the rain for the bus I know will never come. Why is it that I long to rekindle the memory of familiar tastes and enjoy the scent of wind-born excellence – fried fish, larded pasties, pub grub, and smoky chimneys? How I long to revisit pubs I’ve never entered, return to villages I’ve never known – yet can recall with boundless ex-patria enthusiasm the halcyon days imagined there.

            The cold no longer bothers me, and the rain doesn’t spit in my face. The lack of things to do at the weekend and the interminable boredom of teenage life dismissed – the forgotten trauma of memorialized youth. I know that I’ll be disappointed, that the familiar faces won’t be waiting for me on the platform of cognizance to alight from the memory train that’ll never materialize. Nobody will know my name, and the best I can probably expect is a half glance from a half remembered stranger.

            Standing on the corner of the village square next to the telephone booth, watching the locals eye me as they pass, wondering who I am perhaps, or more likely not caring at all. What’s another face in a sea of faces when you’re drowning in your own existence? They’ll never understand that it was the childhood laughter, the scraped knees and plastered wounds of youth that helped to cement what’s traditionally known as village life. The return to family values exemplified by boys playing football in the street, choosing between goodies and baddies when playing at war. Running around neighborhoods with sticks, screaming machinations of machine-gunned excess. Pushed from pillar to post by irate neighbors with perfect lawns, kicked off cricket greens and chased from tennis courts by card-carrying members.

            Damn our insolence for daring to entertain the thought that we too could one day be great – grace the courts at Wimbledon or mount the field at Wembley. Where do the football heroes of the future get their start if not on the village green or by dodging commuter traffic?

            Just one more time – just one more visit. I know what to expect and can already taste the disillusion.
            It matters not.

            Right now I just want to go home.

 

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One Response to “HOME – REDUX”

  1. Steve Green March 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Colin, this is a brilliantly written piece of heartache, extremely good on the descriptive and imagery.

    For “all us people wot live over ‘ere” like to moan about our lot, I for one would miss it if I left.

    Only the other day I told my wife I was homesick, She said “This IS your home.”
    I replied “I know, and I’m sick of it.” (Groan) 🙂 🙂 (Sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing that one in.)

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