Monday, June 01, 2009

Thoughts from the Train: settling into a pattern, somewhere in North Essex...

It's Monday morning, and I'm on the train, listening to Brahm's Piano Quartet no.1 in G minor. And, whilst I'm genuinely sceptical about the merits of modern music, combined with the countryside passing by the window, it makes for a pleasant transition from rural to urban.

And, perhaps, that is why we commute, that transition from country to town and back. For the young, or for the wealthy, commuting is to be avoided. For the young, the bright lights and noise and bustle are the very acme of modern life. Clubs, bars, music venues, and all of the things that represent escape from the humdrum - all of these are there. For the wealthy, the convenience of location trumps the cost of finding housing in one of the most expensive cities on Earth.

I am a child of the London suburbs. Kingsbury, where I grew up, was part of the Metroland developments of the 1920's and 1930's, a place that went from farmland n 1930 to fully-fledged suburb n just two years, thanks to the arrival of the Underground. For me, London was a place you took for granted in your teens - it was always there, its cultural riches and opportunities to be taken one day. I know that I certainly did, after all, there was so much else to be done.

But, eventually, relative poverty or parenthood drives most of us to the suburbs. Suburban life is not what it was, and as ring after ring of suburban growth accreted around London, the point of them began to be lost. They were meant to be that transition zone between the town or city and the countryside, yet who could honestly say that Thornton Heath or Queensbury, Abbey Wood or Hanwell really achieve that. And so we move out further, in search of community lost, of a place to grow and raise children, to Kent and Surrey, Hertfordshire and Essex, forever being chased by the sprawl.

Unusally, I didn't fall into the usual pattern. Childless by choice, my life led to another suburb, this time south of the river. And, if events hadn't intervened, I might still be there but, as is so often the case, things change and I now find myself turning into a country dweller, on the far edge of what might be considered commutable. Admittedly, few would consider mid-Suffolk to be commuter territory, and the dislocation between Creeting St Peter (population 261) and central London is an acute one.

But perhaps the relocation enables me to re-evaluate my relationship with the 'big city over the rainbow'. I may be more likely to take in a show, visit one of its many great museums, enjoy the restaurants, my club, the walk along the Embankment. Whatever comes to pass, life may never be the same again...

3 comments:

Jennie said...

If you go to the Natural History Museum (which is fully awesome) say hello to Debi and Dave and Gina from me ;)

Mark Valladares said...

Jennie,

Did you see the picture, inspired by you?...

Jennie said...

Mark, yes I did. It came through on the feed and everything (proof: http://liberal-bureaucracy-feed.dreamwidth.org/) but I didn't say anything because I thought it was making an assumption, and you know what our cousins over the pond say: assuming makes an ass out of u and me.

One day I shall be able to afford Moleskine notebooks. Or even those flashy paperblanks ones.