I live in a medium-ish (it’s neither small nor large) village in the middle of Somerset. We’ve lived here almost 5 years now, and I realised today that we have now got to the point where we have been accepted as villagers. I think it’s taken this long because while my husband is a southerner born and bred, I’m not. I am an outsider. Having grown up in a tiny village on the Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire border, I know how tight-knit these communities get, and how anyone new is immediately ostracised as a stranger. So it was nice (I hate that word, but it’s apt) this morning when I realised how ingrained in village life I’ve become.
I rarely walk down the street and don’t see someone I know – either a neighbour, a friend, or another Mum from the playground. None of this was proved more than this morning, when I noticed that the following routine was done by not just me, but several other Mums as well.
After the morning routine of arguing with the kids, checking bags are packed, lunches are made, and reading has been done, we decided to walk to school. We step outside the house and the first thing that happens is we say good morning to a group of children and their parents who are also walking to school. Cross the road, pass the gym, smile and say hello to the old man who walks his dog down the road every morning at the same time. Down the path past the fire station, say hello to yet another group of children and their parents walking to school. Dodge the spider webs, say hello to more dog walkers in the park. Get to the road that leads to the school – children run off with their friends (leaving me stressed – DON’T cross that road until I get to you, DON’T stroke the dog that you don’t know, DON’T run or you’ll fall over!!)
Playground: Say hello, smile good-morning to other Mums, strike up short and sweet conversation with friends. Pack son into school – kiss, play nice, learn lots, be good! Walk to daughter’s classroom – kiss, play nice, learn lots, be good, DON’T forget your homework tonight! Conversation with another Mum – bloody men, aren’t they useless? (Okay so not so much mine – he did get the kids ready for school this morning since I was on a go-slow.)
FREEDOM! Right what’s next? Post office. It’s still closed, check phone – 8.58 a.m. Turn around. Oh hello! Strike up conversation about the weather. Yes it is cold, yes we’re due for a cold snap. Did the kids remember their hats, gloves, and scarves? Oh we’re always losing winter items, and cardigans! Door opens, pile into the warmth. Fancy seeing you here! Thumb through the Christmas cards – I swear they get put out earlier each year. Post parcel, buy stamps. Yes, see you later!
Walk to the shop. Decaf tea, wholegrain bread, semi-skimmed milk (because we’re all on the same post-baby / pre-Christmas diet). Conversation in the queue – no I don’t plan on doing anything today. Oh except for the washing, ironing, pots, vacuuming… Get to the till, another conversation with the lady on the other side. No need to ask whether we have a loyalty card, just ask if we REMEMBERED it (of course we didn’t). Step outside, hover around the door and talk to lady with her dog. Yes it is cold isn’t it?
Butchers now, to get something for dinner – lean meat since we’re all on that same diet… Are you going to the assembly / church service / quiz night?
Home. But not before walking down the street and hearing the sound of the bike. Wheels whizzing and clunking like some drunk bumble bee. Oh good morning. Yes, off home now. See you tomorrow! So we can do it all over again…