Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Chalk and cheese

As a rule, I'm not the kind of fellow who tends to extremes. Everything in moderation and all that. I'm not teetotal, but nights like last Saturday excepted, I rarely drink to excess. I'm not vegetarian, but I don't eat that much meat either. I'm conscientious enough at work, but not to the point of workaholism; good enough is, well, good enough. And so on.

Yet there's one part of my life where this rule doesn't apply, and that's physically where I spend my time. For the majority of my working life I'm in central London, buzzing between buildings, meetings and a hotel room. I know you're never supposed to be more than a few feet away from a rat, but I'm never more than a few feet away from a Londoner (though there are some shared characteristics). In fact, I'm never more than a couple of dozen yards away from hundreds of other people, and for an essentially miserable, introverted, middle aged git, that's quite hard. There's always, even at 3am, background noise; somebody, somewhere close, doing something. 

However, on the distressingly few recent occasions I've had the chance to go over to Brittany, the opposite is true much of the time - within a radius of two miles (I should probably say three kilometres), there might be a couple of dozen people, and the chances of bumping into those are pretty low. When I wake up in the morning, then assuming neither the missus nor the cat are snoring (and both have their moments in that department), the sound of birdsong is deafening, for no other reason than it's filling a total noise vacuum. And that, I do like.

I'm mentioning this because the week or so from Saturday promise to be even more solitary than usual. The explanation for this is that motorways and ferries permitting, we shall be siting in a notaire's office at 11 am on Friday going through the arcane, anachronistic and incorrigibly French process of completing the purchase of a house. Two in fact, though as I've explained before lest you think we've turned into some sort of moguls, one is one bedroomed, and the other doesn't have running water, let alone any internal walls. However, they come with land, some of which was in its heyday, a mighty fine vegetable and fruit garden.

Unfortunately, the French owner for the last two years has been more interested in planting his seed in a romantic way than a green fingered style, and the state of the garden bears testament to his neglect. I'm hoping that once cleaning duties in the new house are concluded, I'll get chance to start to restore the glory of the veg plot, not least because Mrs M has made a hefty (for her) £9-worth of investment in seeds, and it'd be a shame to waste them.

The point of this is that when I'm in that garden next week, it will feel like a world away from work, and a nice world at that. Suits, PowerPoint and hustle-and-bustle will give way to wellies, a spade and peace-and-quiet. I'm not quite ready to hang my computer keyboard up yet, not least because I can't afford to do so, but I tell you, as I printed and bound earlier today the 150 or so pages that represent my post-Christmas labours, I reflected on how little satisfaction they gave me compared to the courgettes I hope to harvest later this summer.

So when you read, if you do, my grumpy tweets of a Thursday night, you'll understand why I'm in that place. It's not the work, that's not too bad; it's the constant presence of other people, other strangers. That probably explains too why I love running in the hills so much; back to that subject, probably, next time. Unless I have an overwhelming urge to tell you about my cultivations. 

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