online: 25 october 2003

18 october 2003 country life

17:36 Yesterday a train journey, interrupted and extended by electric power failure. Strangers talking to each other - being helpful - showing their feelings - instead of sitting in silence.

When the power loss happened the rail companies lost control and left peole in ignorance of what to do - but later they provided taxis for the last part of the journey. This was because there would be no train for a further hour and a half and we were supposed to arrive an hour ago.

Today I am experiencing a different kind of sociality, in the small town in Wales where my sister lives. She speaks with many people she knows - they talk with smiles and humour and appear know each other well.

We drive through farmland and woodland and get out to look at distant views and to visit a ruined castle.

I enjoy speaking of childhood memories that I can share only with her and her husband - he lived nearby when we were three to five years old.

This seems so friendly and pleasant a life that I wonder why I live in the city and why I like it there so much. When I'm in in one I have difficulty envisaging or liking the other. They seem to exclude each other - as if the city me and the country me are different people!

I would like to think that they were one. Is it possible they could combine, or perhaps they are doing so as city life and country life become parts of something less exclusive - a modern life of more equality and of wider and freer communication... But we don't know how to use it yet - the technology of being equal and in touch with everyone. Country life (as we know it) has one part of the formula and city life has another. But the combination, yet to be found, could be different from either...

That is my hope. And that, I suppose, is why I live in London and visit a city forest almost every day!

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