Maybe the fridge magnets are right - live today as if it is your last
Maybe, I thought, I should move to the country, learn to mourn and bake.
I imagined another life, where the butcher knows your name and your eggs fall warm out of a hen, and you’d happily travel 20 miles over the potholes to listen to a slide guitar. I could do with the routine, I thought; I might get that novel finished in the confines of a lonely hill.
I dunno though. I get nervous in the countryside, what with cows to be milked and dogs to be tethered and kettle-bell classes on a Tuesday and yogalates on a Thursday and the school bus at the end of the lane. And the pitch-black dark by five and the cats slinking into the sheds and prowling for mice, and all those seasons without street lights. It feels, pardon my feebleness, unequivocal.
Would I last a week? Would I recognise a septic tank if it jumped up and bit me on the bottom? Am I mixing up rural living with some notional hippie paradise? And if I am, then forget it; there is absolutely no evidence in my life to suggest that I’d find peace of mind filling jam jars with honeysuckle and my family with home-made chutney.
It’s the old Aga dream, isn’t it? Give me an Aga and a pair of wellingtons, and suddenly I’ll be Linda McCartney with a gross of veggie burgers in the warming oven, my clock set on zen and a bearded spouse sitting on the windowsill strumming his weeping guitar.
Shag it, I think I’d rather eat the rubber boots.
The motorway was too efficient, the suburbs settled around me like quicksand.
The country churchyard remains clear in my mind. Set. Fastened. As undeniable as those broad, staring cows.
I don’t know how I want to go. I do know, however, that it is a kind of privilege to mourn a life well lived, as I did last week. For myself, I’ll just get on with throwing a T-shirt at the cat when she tries to resurrect me at five in the morning, before the search for vaguely harmonising underwear kicks off, bearing in mind, of course, that even congruent smalls won’t halt time’s arrow.