I have tried and tried and tried to appreciate the countryside. I have walked through fields, looked at cows, trod in cowpats and caused a farmer to go into histrionics by (accidentally) leaving some gate open or something. It is just that it is so darn quiet…
I’ve done the country thing before…living in Scotland it is a bit hard not to, you see. I mean, it is ALL country with the exception of the odd random city here and there. You’ll be driving along this road and all of a sudden the city stops – it’s gone. You are in the middle of nowhere. Now, my father has always appreciated the countryside, and he has always tried to get me round to his way of thinking. “Now look at that,” he would say to me when I was a child, “isn’t that beautiful?” Invariably he’d be pointing at some hill or a stream full of algae and dead fish. I would reply, “I would build a Sainsbury’s on top of it” so often that not he wouldn’t pursue the issue.
My Dad used to live in a small village not far from London. My, how excellent, one would think… Just a stone’s throw from the capital but retaining that unique charm blah blah blah and other such estate agents bilge. When I first saw how remote the village was I began to panic and when I realised the nearest branded fast food outlet was about 7 miles away, I had an allergic reaction. I went into what I can only describe as mild hysteria when informed that the nearest pub was a ‘mere’ three-mile walk up a huge hill which, just for extra fun-factor, was a single track with no streetlights whatsoever. “That’s ‘cos it ain’t a street, mate”, was all some countryphile could say on that subject.
The city however has lights everywhere; garish streetlights shining constantly to remind us stupid city people where we are going, green and red lights to tell us when to walk across roads, lest we should have the inability to distinguish whether traffic is bearing down on us or not.
City slickers are also fortunate to have barriers everywhere to stop us accidentally falling under wagons, and of course the saviour of every city: shops. If you’re bored in the country what do you do? Ride a horse? Go for a walk and look at some ‘wildlife’? Talk to your family?!? Are you mad? In the city when boredom creeps in, just hit the shops, money or no money. Have fun irritating the all-American looking shop assistants in Gap by unfolding all the jumpers. Annoy school-leavers that work in McDonald’s by asking why they haven’t got any stars yet. Ah yes, the fun to be had of being in a city. I have tried, tried, tried to get excited about trees and cows and ‘air’ but it fails to impress.
I have nothing against those who LIVE in the countryside… I just don’t know HOW they can do it. I mean, I could never possibly purchase a property without first checking how far the nearest McDonald’s/ pub/ brothel is. Country folk have to be subjected to driving Range Rovers and avoiding sheep (or not as the case may be). City folk on the other hand can leap onto buses or take leisurely strolls down to the corner shop, and apart from at the City Farm, I have seen no sheep around here.
Countrysiders would argue, of course, that the city is dirty, smelly, cramped and dangerous. Mmm…yep, sure is and that is why I love it. I just can’t relax if I go outside and don’t get choked by pollution. And there’s no way I can sleep without double deckers going at 75mph on the bypass behind my flat.
I like the city because it features so many different types of people. Edinburgh has its own set of ‘characters’ which could be described as universal, but living in Edinburgh gives them a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to say the very least. I like the fact that Edinburgh people will bump into you in the street, slam shop doors in your face and still not apologise. That shows ‘character’ of course. I like it that you can NEVER get a cab after 8.30pm. After all, walking is good for you.
I feel much safer in the city. Granted, you could get stabbed by a strung-out junkie or kicked repeatedly in the face by a hard-core alcoholic, but there are always so many people hanging about I’m sure you’d be rescued before losing too much blood. The city has a certain vibe about it (albeit one of danger) and I’m not sure if I could swap that for chats over the farm gate with Mrs Miggins. I have tried the country life once and once only and it didn’t work for me.
Maybe when I’m older and have finally had enough of bus fumes and burglary, I will learn to appreciate the countryside, but until then…well, I’ll just jump on a bus and head for the bright lights if it’s all the same to you.