It is perhaps quite hard to think it through and see it, or even believe it, but, none the less, we do.
Our lives are as unique as our finger prints, we’ve all (almost, which kind of makes a point) got them, but they are each unique.
I have a friend, Charlotte Hughes, who lives in Ashton-under-Lyne, one of Manchester’s most deprived areas , which the government, in its infinite wisdom, decided made it the perfect place to experiment its new ‘flagship’ Universal Credit on . A record of that experiment can be found on Charlotte’s website, The Poor Side of Life, which she started on October 1, 2014 on which she also recorded her protests outside her local Jobcentre every Thursday .
Charlotte and I have never met, but have supported each other over many years, since I had started my own protest against this brutal Tory regime in March 2012, writing – A Letter a Day to Number 10 .
I have never even been to Manchester, but did live for some years in the North East of England during the miners strike. You don’t get to be much more of a fish out of water than a soft southern London boy living in a small, (ex)mining, town in County Durham. It was a world I never adjusted to, which, as a community and youth worker, effectively made me pretty damned useless to man or beast. It was an education I shall never forget because its impact was enormous.
My admiration for the miners, and especially their wives and families, was boundless as Margaret Thatcher tore their lives apart and trashed their communities, along with their livelihoods. Of course, Thatcher was even more clueless than I was to northern realities, but she didn’t let a little thing like that stop her.
The Westminster bubble is another case in point, where those who live lives of endless privilege presume to dictate to the rest of us how to live our lives. Their ignorance to the realities of life for ordinary people is as boundless as Thatchers, which they blithely demonstrate daily in towering contempt and arrogance. I am very sure that few ordinary people would pay any heed to their existence were they not, supposedly, the government, fiddling with our lives for endless profit, for them and their tax haven loving city and corporate mates.
I live in a small and not particularly attractive ex-mining town in Somerset, surrounded by the most stunning countryside. Not a day passes without me loving and appreciating the beautiful area I live in, worlds apart from city life and areas of Britain suffering desperate deprivation and want. It has its own peculiar magic and a great many wonderful, idiosyncratic, characters, a fair few of whom I count as dear and precious friends amongst whom I live my own idiosyncratic life and am valued for it.
I have learnt more about life and nature here than anywhere else I have ever lived. Nature is less contained and constrained here than in any other place I’ve lived, even the Somerset accent is a unique rural accent shaped by the land and nature.
When I lived in London I regarded rain as an unwelcome intrusion which turned my world a dismal grey, here, though it might make me just as wet, it’s never an intrusion, it’s life giving and, personally, a welcome and appreciated part of natural life. In nearby Gloucestershire we have Westonbirt, the national arboretum, where autumn is an annual celebration and festival to which tourists flock in their thousands and where they have entire fields put aside for overflow parking. There’s no denying that it is a beautifully managed place, but personally, I have the rest of Somerset to play in, though I would like to hang a pirate flag on the treetop walkway.
This little blog post hasn’t even mentioned places past the shores of Britain, lands and cultures I have never seen, nor ever will. An entire world that I know very little about, living, as I do, on what is, on a global scale, a postage stamp.
KOG. 17 September 2020.