JULY - Prone to Pontification
Well here we are! You're thinking - another person telling me how bad this country is - well, I'm not! This country is almost full of wonderful, compassionate and peace loving people. It's just that we are hearing about The Others - those few who are loud, non-thinking and want a fight. No, I wasn't going to moan about the state of the country and the rise of far right politics across the globe. "Well here we are!" refers to the fact that we are in Cumbria for our annual summer holiday. We travelled down through uncomfortable heat and brilliant sunshine. On our overnight stop we had an almighty thunderstorm. On the second day of the journey we were so grateful that the temperature didn't rise above 26 degrees. Then it rained and the fell was shrouded in mist - but we didn't care! We are in our much loved dales. We revisited a favourite haunt and came back full of optimism for the opportunities it has promised us. We dashed through the rain and, frankly, didn't really notice we were all drenched!
Very early Orlando dragged one of us partway up the fell - it wasn't me - although I meant to be there. He has been very settled in this house so far. He always picks up on vibes so we are really happy at how calm he is. Last year we had two holidays not too far from here. He didn't settle so well at either - and, at the place we stayed over Easter, he was positively disturbed - as were we! The first night we were there, I woke up, in the middle of the night, to the sound of scratching at the window - and, immediately afterwards, something running across the roof above my head. Keith just kept on snoring. One of our number, sleeping alone in a single room, woke up, on a different night, to a terrible chill - an almost unbearable cold in the room. This was on the same night that another of us heard a dog padding across the wooden landing. Orlando was fastened in his crate downstairs. By the time we left, we were selective about going upstairs alone. Everyone went to bed at the same time.
But this house feels homely. It welcomed us and it fits like a glove. There is plentiful literature in the house describing the former occupants and places of interest in the area. In 1589 the house was owned by one Giles Hall. We have Halls in our family too. There is a panel chest in the house which was bought in memory of the wife of another owner, Thomas Hunter, who died in 1730. Skipping through to the early years of the twentieth century, John Bell (1861 - 1919) farmed here and, after his death, his widow, Agnes, lived here until her own passing in 1924. Thanks go to Hector, the owner of the property, for this information and much more. Robert and Sara keep this amazing old house in fantastic condition with incredible attention to detail. This isn't going unappreciated! We reckon we're in for a good holiday - come rain or shine!
I wonder, if this old house were able to think, what it would make of the way time has flown from Giles Hall and family in the sixteenth century to Susan Crow and other guests in this twenty first century. I wonder if it feels old or if the changes have ensured a youthful continuum.
Adding days to one's total years can mean one becomes prone to pontification. On occasions I have to fight back the tendency to say how someone should do a particular thing. The years have taught me procedures and short-cuts from which the younger generation may benefit. They only MAY benefit - we can't know because there are so many variables. I try not to pontificate. If I do: a) I dislike hearing the sound of my own voice, and b) those I mean to advise may do just the opposite. I wonder if Giles Hall, Thomas Hunter and John and Agnes Bell had the same dilemma. I know I have not always been receptive to my parents' advice. Recently I have thought often about how they wanted to share their own experiences for my sake. This addition of days allows for that understanding. But how can it now make life easier for another generation? To a large extent their responses will be the same as mine were.
Venerable Ancients don't stand a chance of changing hearts and minds unless they find the missing link to make their life experiences appear valuable for the future. When the Pope issues a Papal Bull, he expects to be taken seriously. When I issue an edict, I KNOW that it will be met with a respectful "Okay" and will be executed as and when the person or persons concerned realise there is no way of moving forward unless they comply with said directive!
Somewhat flippant example:
Me - Please pick up all of your dirty socks and put them into the laundry basket.
Socks remain in situ.
X - Have my socks gone through the wash?
Me - I haven't seen them.
That is actually a lie. I have seen them. They are still on the floor.
Me - You can wear mine if you want to.
X - I can't wear your socks.
Me - Maybe it's time your socks saw the inside of the laundry basket?
While this protracted episode is going on, the dog is moving socks from one room to another and up and down the stairs. He loves everyone's socks as well as Keith's underwear.
In truth, I don't mind too much - about the socks. What really troubles me is the frustration of elder statesmen from all political persuasions as they are unable, without being ridiculed, to submit their experiences in support of a society in which aggression - whether verbal or physical - has no place.
As we move amongst local people and tourists, here in The Dales, we have no way of knowing, at first meeting, whether they belong to the non-thinking loutish minority or the huge number of caring conciliatory citizens of these islands. Quite honestly, I don't want to know. If I am able, by my own attitude, to make a positive difference, then I shall be satisfied that I'm doing what I can. I'll never be able to stand on a soap box and rally the troops. I'm really not that person. My aim is to increase the positivity out there. There is so much of it and I want to add to it.
We walked the dog this morning and felt we were in a picture book. Not the type of area where humankind moulds and massages Nature - we came through that place - but where men and women work, in spite of present day changes and difficulties, to remain at one with the environment. They know that time cannot stand still and that they must modernise but they have respect for country ways and all forms of life around them. So we, their guests, were at one with our surroundings.
In the sixties I watched the hedgerows disappear around my Lincolnshire home. The fields became bigger and trees and bushes were uprooted. I watched more and more dust storms from my window as the soil eroded. I missed the colour and variety as wildflowers vanished with the use of chemicals. When this was recognised as a problem, efforts were made to correct mistakes. Fields never again reduced in size of course. The strip farming which was once the way of our local agriculture would only return as examples of our past. Commercially it was unlikely to be successful. But wildflowers began to grow back as farmers learned more about the toxins they were using. To be fair, the industrial giants were economical with the facts they released to their customers. Much was done on trust. And it proved to have been misplaced. This disregard for Nature snowballed until unscrupulous developers denuded the areas on the edges of towns and villages and created modern ghettos. The problem is - and I want to shout it from the fells around me - we never learn. We are like a runaway cart on a hillside, we can't seem to stop this manipulation of all the good things on our planet. We have to be in control. If we want it, we will have it - on our terms. I can see this - I've watched it morph through decades - and I can tell you that humankind has, once again, to take its place in the order of things. Disregard for our natural resources will destroy us. A universal desire to put right our wrongs will bring us together as a species. It will eradicate the sense of separateness, of superiority and of powerlessness. We CAN work together to mend this breaking planet. But will anybody listen to a child of the fifties with a yearning to capitalise on all the good in the world FOR the good of the world?