After shock

Bitter orange notes waft through the house as golden shreds simmer softening for the B&B guests breakfast marmalade; my iPod at full volume shuffles my crazy musical tastes; workmen march muddy boots over cream carpets searching for the fault that keeps us incommunicado – home!

Yesterday morning I caught up with local gossip at the village sub-post office: who had died; who was having an affair and with whom; who was moving out (gnome house) and who had moved in (a famous artist). There is always something or somebody to talk about in our small community of some 200 souls.

Susi started a queue; earwigging the conversation, she told me she had spent weeks living in a compound upcountry in The Gambia. Pam announced that Lorraine, John’s new wife, is leaving for The Gambia shortly – she regularly visits to run school birth control classes. On the way home I bumped into Babs walking Charlie, her Yorkshire terrier; some 15 years ago Babs spent a season cooking at the Kombo Hotel. I felt another rippling shock realising the links between this small Dales village and the village of The Gambia: how small is the world?

This morning, I greeted James, our new vicar, as he staggered across the road carrying old hymn books from St. Mary’s to the vicarage; we chatted, despite his weighty burden (‘good exercise’ he said), about the weird contradictions and discombobulating effect of transplanting between Africa and Europe; how so much is hidden in our free speaking society whilst the opposite applies in the more censored Gambia; how questioning the probity of our values and culture might result in a world of uniform greyness; and of the benefits of aspiration and beauty.

The phone is ringing! We are connected. We are home.image