What ho, everybody!
If indeed there is an everybody.
Of course I know there is an everybody, but I can’t help feeling that you have better things to be doing – mouths to feed, bills to pay, toenails to clip etc. You don’t? Well, you know best of course ….
A great inertia has come over me of late, as I’ve been focused on ‘real life’ issues rather than writing. I know some people write about their lives online, but that was never the purpose of ‘Plumtopia’. However, I am renewing Plumtopia for the year with some personal reflections.
A few years ago I described myself as
“…an ordinary sort of chapette, looking for an idyllic, peaceful rural life, living simply, growing vegetables and keeping pigs and hens. In the afternoon, I might sit in the dappled shade of a tree, reading Whiffle on the Care of the Pig.”
Having since attempted to live a ‘simpler life’, I’ve learned that it’s not so simple after all. Whether by nature or (lack of) nurture, I am an utterly impractical being. Simple tools – no obstacle to Palaeolithic man – are a complete mystery to me. In a civilised society, this problem would be resolved by getting ‘a little man’ in to do the practical work. But we live in complicated times, where even simple household maintenance is accessed via a 1800 number.
So I have been mulling over the dream and revising it accordingly.
Village, City or Suburb?
I have lived in some very remote places, and loved the landscape, but I’m too social to seek permanent isolation.
City life can be fair or foul, but much depends on the city. Pollution, noise, traffic, commuting, high-rise, poverty, homelessness, anti-social behaviour and violent crime etc.etc. are present to some degree in all of them. Cities are too big to operate as caring, connected communities, so people who are vulnerable – in one way or another – struggle to survive. I’ve been lucky, having lived close to the CBD in cities that are reasonably clean and safe – and I have generally found inner city life agreeable.
I can not abide suburbs. Even as a child they depressed me. P.G. Wodehouse was a great lover of suburbs and painted an idyllic picture of suburban life in ‘Valley Fields’, but the suburbs of Wodehouse’s acquaintance were in a different time and class from the barren, charmless developments assaulting the Australian landscape in the 1970s of my childhood, which have sadly continued, unrelenting, ever since.
Charmless really is the word.
I think a Village is the ideal sized community, but it doesn’t follow that every village is ideal. Some are frankly disturbing. But I’m quite keen to try village life, and the best place to do this is in Europe.
Next stop, England?
There are all sorts of reasons for not moving to England. I know, because people list them everytime I mention the idea. The first time I visited Europe my Grandmother advised against it.
“They crap in the streets,” she told me.
I didn’t believe her at the time, but I’ve since seen some episodes of Ladette to Lady and I believe she may be right.
I’m not expecting to find Wodehouse’s idyllic fictional world, or even ‘a better life’. I know the UK faces some tough social and economic issues, and that I’ll be giving up a lifestyle that many people would find enviable. But after years immersed in reading, viewing and listening to all manner of things British, it really is time experience the life, culture and history of Britain for myself. It was (and still is) home to countless generations of my family, and my holidays there are never long enough, or frequent enough.
There are advantages that I’m really excited about: access to the British Museum, reading room, thousands of historic sites, and proximity to the rest of Europe. More than enough to feed my mind for a hundred lifetimes. I haven’t even touched on the music, arts and cultural menu. Best of all, I can share these experiences and opportunities with my family.
Living in England won’t be like a holiday. Like most people, I’ll be working, parenting, and worrying about everyday things – money, drains, dentists. The challenges of life are portable, but fortunately, so are the works of P.G. Wodehouse.
I’m absolutely terrified – and excited!
Plumtopia as a state of mind
There is a certain school of thought that argues that “I” am the problem. That Plumtopia is a state of mind which can only be achieved by changing my thinking to adopt a more positive approach to living, enjoying life, and the things we have. I accept the truths in this advice.
I reject the suggestion that often follows: that I would be just as dissatisfied somewhere else, surrounded by different people, because I can’t escape the real problem, which is apparently ‘myself’.
The whole argument is based on the premise that I have a problem, but I’m not sure I do. I’m not content, but I an not looking for contentment. Nor do I expect to find it by changing my address. Contentment isn’t for everyone. The things that drive me are an insatiable appetite for knowledge about the world and its history. My wanderlust can become a burden, and four years without much traveling has me a near wreck. But the ‘problem’ is easily solved.
The fact that some people are happily settled in one place, admiring dew drops and giving thanks for their daily organic spelt, does not make it right for me.
Positivity is portable too, surely.