One of the strange things about the amazing, astounding human mind is it’s ability to be totally ignorant in the face of evidence. Take me this week.
We are tired, my wife’s body hurts, she’s concerned that we’ll get M.E. if we don’t rest, but there’s been so much to do to get this house liveable that there’s been no option but to keep going. Day in, day out, almost each day for the past 16 weeks we have dragged our weary feet back and forth through this little market town, moving from the minor comforts of a bed, a garden bench and a picnic table in friend’s empty rental to the chaotic building site the ancient house we bought has become since we took possession in March. With our contract ending last week, we moved and this past week we’ve been existing with that same uncomfortable furniture in what has become less and less of a construction project each day until, a few days ago, we erected an Ikea sofa! Wow, what bliss! For the first time in a year we have comfort.
The move also released our rent money. However, after paying the excellent young plumber/woodworker who has stepped in to help us, there’s not much left of our pensions, but, because we’ve been careful, just enough to give us two nights half-board in a lovely little hotel we once stayed in. We rolled this wondrous idea around our heads. Ho the bliss of such luxury! Being pampered! Good, inspiring food cooked! Then there’s the gardens which fill a small valley and are littered with exciting modern sculptures that leap out at you from behind exotic plants. A short drive away are the alluring cliffs of North Devon.
All night I tossed and turned. At 4am it dawned on me that these are not normal times, but corona times and that when this sad state of affairs struck the world down, my doctor rang, warning I was vulnerable. And these past few weeks, probably due to the enormous stress, physical, intellectual, emotional and financial, that this unexpected renovation has generated, my health has struggled, but that we’ve had no option but to keep going. Ha! A hotel! And this one in particular! Yipppie! Hmm, no. Not to bore you, recently rushed to hospital, I’m now on a dangerously high level of steroids and even a low dose lowers your immune responses. Not good if you are normal, disastrous if you were low in the first place.
Ha Iain, and now you’re thinking of staying in a hotel? Hmm, yes, it’s got big interior spaces which even when full of guests feel spacious, the garden spills all around it. The entire place is impeccably kept and they’ve assured us they do a deep covid-clean every day, bless them. Ha, but this virus lingers upon soft furnishings for hours and breath-particles waft in the air for 2-3 hours. Can you guarantee you’ll be safe? No…? No!
There we are. Ignorance, in the form of desire, drives us. Rather than sinking in to the situation we are in and relishing what we have, however little or uncomfortable it might be, we want more. And the drivers of our economies know this and have cleverly exploited this human weakness, hence, as Globalism has invaded our very thoughts through our smart-phones which channel us ever more into narrow social valleys, we have come to think more and more of our own ego-driven wishes and the wider picture is obliterated by the brightness of temptations constantly tossed at us.
I woke at dawn and decided that this almost-house will be our hotel. My wife agreed. We were being stupid, ignoring the facts. We will spend that little extra money on take-aways. There’s the quality food served by the Chinese, two Bangladeshi restaurants, four small cafe’s, two delicatessens with interesting food, a quality restaurant doing take-aways, supermarket ready meals and in between we can take time to cook the odd meal with excellent produce purchased in the independent shops 200 metres away. A Perfect Holiday! We will wake in this hotel, ignore the building tasks calling us and laze about in luxury upon our Ikea sofa after walks in the lovely countryside surrounding us.
Lockdown showed people around the world that this way of extracting the positives form our immediate environment are satisfying, that this approach to living gives many of us a quality we have sorely missed. That, for those of us with relatively decent housing conditions, of us, our lives during lockdown have been far, far better. I just hope that as we return towards normality, we don’t forget this and are able to head towards a more sustainable existence which will be better for us, our offspring and of course, The Planet.