When I walk into the kitchen this morning the first thing I see is an empty packet of ibuprofen, a packet which I only bought two days ago. The first thought I have is how selfish can he get? He took the last of the painkillers for his bad shoulder, leaving me nothing for my bad neck. (Husband and I are mere cripples, I tell you). He could have bought some on his way to the office, whereas I’m home all day.
Then it occurs to me: I have an equally easy access to shopping for medicines, milk or bread. We no longer live in the middle of nowhere when milk was at least half an hour drive away. If you had a car that is. When we went down to one car it was trickier for the person without transport. The small country road was at the end of the lane, a fifteen minute walk away. The closest shop was in a nearby village, another half an hour on foot. Cycling was a nightmare on narrow, windy country roads where those with cars thought they were all Formula 1 drivers (me included I have to admit) and farmers in tractors took pleasure in covering you with fresh manure when passing. So Internet shopping was my saviour. But this kind of shopping needed planning, something I’m not known to excel in.
So from the painkiller point of view life here in London is so much better. It hasn’t been a dance on roses, however (do you say that in English? We do in Finland but I’ve always suspected that dancing on prickly rose thorns can’t be that pleasant?). The sense of what I can only describe as ‘not belonging’ has still not quite left me, not even after my new job in the book shop, the new lovely colleagues and a new book group to run. Perhaps its living in a flat, on a top floor, suspended above the people and gardens below. After 15 years being grounded in a cottage surrounded by a rose-filled garden, it can be a little difficult to accept that herbs come in a plastic bag from the supermarket.
Yet I viewed my life in the country as a passing phase, holding my breath until we could move into a city, live in a flat and not have to worry about the gardening. It was what I’d been used to in Finland. Gardens and forests were reserved for cottages in the country by a lake, to spend the long summer holidays in.
Oh well, you always want what you can’t have?