Tuesday 14 July 2020

Bohemian wit

[Non rail post coming up.]
Seven years ago I moved from a small house in the country to a small house in town (unless you have the thick end of £1m to spend in the South East small is what you get). There were various reasons for the move after 13 years of being surrounded by fields, a minor one was the ability to stroll into town unaided by motor vehicle and sit. Not to do anything just laze for a while over a coffee and possibly read. In my head I would be like a character in a Graham Greene novel - oozing bohemian wit and conversing with like minded souls. I tick several of the boxes required: I've always written a little, painted even less, I'm generally quite lazy and I've been a working musician for my entire adult life. All I'm lacking is a fedora and a neckerchief. As you would expect none of this has happened; other bits of life don't allow it and I've possibly not polished my credentials enough. Those that know me would say that there is a lot of polishing to do. Putting aside the current situation, even where I live, which is considered to be full of history-filled liberal arty types, suffers from the standard southern England reserve and no one talks. On the other hand perhaps adding northern friendliness and flat vowels would destroy the image even further. The closest I've got was in the early 1980's when I lived on Jersey.  A trip to St. Ouens bay could generate an endless day sitting in the surf café watching the long haired blondes turn up in VWs and wait for the big rollers to hit the beach. It feels like another life.

Yesterday having needed to post a packet for Mrs. F., I partially fulfilled the ambition: the sun shone I perched myself in the window of the trendy café at the foot of the hill and waited. Aside from the delivery of the coffee by a slightly camp waiter person I wasn't approached by any fellow bohemian types and I read my book in relative silence. The café tries to portray a slightly Latin American vibe, which you would think would greatly add to my wish, but spoils it by playing bits of Maroon 5 amongst the Afro-Cuban backing track. Maybe I just have to keep doing it, but the summer is fading and I think you need to have flies buzzing around to complete the picture. As there hadn't been any rain, the road was fairly dusty, but Nissan Micra's screeching past Boots and the charity shop don't really replace a slow-moving '57 Cadillac.
The second visit to the post office revealed a smaller queue.


  1. That chimes with my own experience. At age 59 Somerset is my tenth country and Glastonbury is something like my twenty-fifth town/village/city. Some of the places I've lived felt more like home than others but I am torn between wanting to find a place where I feel at home and knowing that part of my character will always react against my surroundings.

    The only way I know to break through the silent reserve is with groups that share an interest, be it writing or am-dram, or volunteering in some capacity.The activity seems to provide people with the excuse to talk, albeit an excuse shouldn't be needed.

    NB. Non railway posts are fine. I think the current situation is giving most of us pause for thought.

  2. I often think that we have the best of both worlds here; we live in a big enough village to support a general shop/post office, pub, chippy, decent Indian restaurant, tea room and tattoo studio(!), yet the delights of Ashford (big shops and chain eateries at the Outlet and smaller in the town) are about 10 minutes away, though admittedly neither really has much of an arty vibe...but then Tenterden and Rye aren't much further away.
    I hadn't realised how much Tenterden had changed over the last few years...much more choice and a lot more expensive than it used to be.
    Reserve? Dunno...I suppose 15 years working on the railway has enabled me to talk to just about anyone and, usually, get them to talk back...