Saturday, August 02, 2008

Miles away

Back when I lived in Nottingham, I was barely aware of its history. Such fragments as there were; the caves, the Castle, the flimsy connection with Robin Hood.. were no more than irrelevant curiosities compared with its significance as a vehicle for my life and work there. A city thrives on change or dies. Buildings that had been fixtures in my consciousness were almost brand new in my parents' eyes. The same thing happened to me when my daughter talked about bars that I'd known as banks, pubs that used to be shops, shops that had been cinemas, apartments that once were warehouses. Layer upon layer, it reinvents itself to each new generation that moulds it to their own needs. As soon as there is redundancy or obsolescence, something new leaps into its place. Its past is never more than twenty years ago.

I can't say the same for out here. The past is inescapable. Even to get here, you either criss-cross the rectilinear grid laid down as a consequence of the drainage of the Fen, or drive along the medieval road linking the chain of old villages on the imperceptible high ground that was available to be farmed 1000 years ago. Within a half-dozen mile radius of where I write this, there are fifteen ancient churches - fifteen, such was the degree of piety in bygone ages. Although all are nominally open for business, none has a viable congregation - the only signs of vitality are the fresh flowers in the graveyards... funerals being more profitable than weddings it seems. All the Lambeth Conferences in the world won't put life back into them - they just stand looking hurt and rejected, as silent knowing witnesses to these uneasy times when the old certainties are dead. Pubs close down and stay closed down. So too do banks and shops. So would Skegness itself, if it wasn't only for being the best that people with limited choices can afford. The force that re-energises cities doesn't have the necessary critical mass to sustain itself here. A thin modern veneer has been put over it, but the past won't go away.

I'm sensing too much decay... in myself too. How much is due to being here is hard to put a finger on - but all of us to a greater or lesser extent need to feel ourselves affecting the Earth's motion and I feel at a standstill. I've been charmed by Lincolnshire for a while, but on bad days it's not enough. The people happiest here are those most in tune with it. In me, contemplation of it is confirming my detachment and encouraging introspection. I'm blogging for the wrong reasons.... indeed I don't even have a reason. It's not serving whatever purpose I had in mind for it - no, actually I'm failing to make it fulfill its purpose. Oh I dunno... if I ask myself, "Yes, but why are you telling a bunch of strangers anyone this?", I can't come up with a convincing answer. Not one I want to hear, anyway. Why blog? That's the question. Anyone?

Chris and Inky - you can still buzz me on the link to the side (so can anyone else for that matter).

Thanks to everyone who's shown interest, going to be otherwise occupied for a bit.


Glamourpuss said...

For some reason, I'm left thinking of Swift's Waterland. Have you read it? Agree with you about cities, and hope you find your sense of purpose soon.


Selena Dreamy said...

Within a half-dozen mile radius of where I write this, there are fifteen ancient churches - fifteen, such was the degree of piety in bygone ages.

Piety granted - but I think it was largely due to transport.

What can be encompassed in an hour today driving the car, would take a day perhaps by horse and cart. Time lies heavy upon the “old shires” with their thatched roofs and shingled cottages and architectural consistency. Today the pace of time itself seems to have changed....

Why blog?

A vibrant, protean opportunity perhaps to play with, reinforce or creatively invent ideas? Though, admittedly, one may reach a time when ideas written on the digit of blogs by those who issue them every day may well become repetitive...

I believe yours are still original, pensive and very worth while...


All Shook Up said...

but I think it was largely due to transport.

That too, Dreamy. But they wouldn't have needed such grandeur if they were only to accommodate the faithful at prayer. They were built with money from the wealthy, given to please God, with endowments to ensure their eternal soul's place in heaven. And given the tiny medieval population, with its more pressing preoccupations like war, plague and famine, the superhuman efforts put into their construction do speak of a faith beyond reason.

Thanks for your other comments. I might indeed not be able to tear myself away.

All Shook Up said...

No I haven't yet, Puss. I'll keep looking.