I went to a leaving party last night. A close friend of mine is moving to the country. It was not a decision she took lightly especially after breaking the news to various urban dwelling family members who tried to put her off by telling her that men of an eligible age and disposition were few and far between and that the countryside had little to offer save the odd weekend away beach walking in Orford, gift buying at Snape Maltings and oyster eating in Aldeburgh. And all you need to bring are your Hunters, a 4×4 and small precocious child called Oscar, it’s perfect! But to live darling? I hardly think so.
Despite this she decided to go for it and is relocating. I asked her why and she told me a number of things had prompted the move – the desire for a scaled down lifestyle, the fact that they now sell Mulberry in Southwold and a man. But of course, what inspirational story of rural relocation would be complete without a straw chewing, Ale drinking love interest, a hunka hunka burning East Anglian love.
On a trip to the country a year or so ago she fell for the down to earth charms of a local man. (A LOCAL man, he was local, very local) Apparently a bizarre thing happened, and city girls please remain seated this may come as a shock – they met in a pub, he smiled, came over, sat down and started chatting. He liked her she liked him end of story (on top of which he had a prize winning marrow but that’s for another day) Why how very strange, no games, no bullshit, no multiple online dating a girl from every borough. Most suspect indeed, I always had my doubts about these strange country folk.
It must be said although there is a great deal I dislike about the capital, traffic wardens, filth, the Elephant and Castle, but there is also a fair amount I enjoy – fantastic bars and restaurants, bars and hmm.. bars and most notably the amount of sexy men scattered liberally about the place, but according to said friend this means little and although the selection may not be as varied or indeed plentiful in a field the choice cuts that do remain certainly are worth a national express coach ride. The main difference between country boys and city dwellers she says is simple – they talk to you.
This revelation got me thinking, what happened to communication? The last woman that started talking to strangers on a bus got 2 million You Tube hits and a double spread in the Daily Mail, OK she was pissed off her head and about to be jumped on by half of Croydon for spouting racist abuse but still my point is this, we’ve all stopped talking.
Wouldn’t life be easier if you could go up to a man in the street, stop him and say ‘Hi sorry for interrupting but I quite fancy you, want to go for a drink sometime?’ without him calling the environmental health unit to come and cart you off in a straight jacket.
Inspired by her happy ending I thought, for the sake of experiment, I would give it a go and I did something most out of character. I smiled at a fellow jogged this morning on my bi-annual jog around regents park outer circle. Why anyone would have thought I’d come at him naked with a carving knife the look of confusion on his face.
A smile? A SMILE? What a brazen hussy from yonder parts, smile at me as I’m running!? Be gone with you happy, friendly runner in your shiny white snickers and big happy face! Back to those muddy fields full of orgy loving jam-making yokels!
No doubt he concluded I was either mentally ill or from Norwich.
And he would be partially right; I was trying out a strange and unfamiliar thing on a poor, vulnerable city stranger. I was being nice for no reason.
This sadly may well be the distinction between city and country, not the amount of apple cider on sale, the quantity of parking tickets received or the availability of ‘big fancy shops full of those people’ but the ease in which people say hello.
I won’t be smiling again anytime soon to total strangers in the street and for fear of being sectioned at Barnet mental institution and will try to avoid eye contact unless totally essential. But it’s a pity, and if any single girls are thinking of moving to pastures new, jumping into a random place in the middle of nowhere where there’s bugger all to do except eat pasties, organize village fundraisers and fuck each other, then good luck to you. They boys you find may not know their Gucci from their Gaultier but man can they kill you with a smile….. And that’s got to be worth a move.