Let your imagination go and picture the following. Cross the joys of waterboarding interrogation, incoherent babblings of farmers/bus drivers and staunch vegetable rights advocates, women talking about prolapsing pieces of themselves and programmes with titles like “the history of the paper clip” and you have a sense of my addiction. BBC Radio 4. It is a joy, a mad, bizarre world of the insane, the deranged, the extinct and the maniacal and it is truly wonderful. Their programmes make me want to go and explore Britain and search out the type of weirdo who they interview and see if they really exist. Woman’s Hour in the morning makes me want to grow my own set of ovaries just so I can empathise with what they are saying and is possibly, but not quite, my favourite programme. My favourite is a programme that follows an ex-female jockey as she goes for a walk through the countryside and talks to strange people. Ramblings with Clare Balding is magical and makes you want to wade waist deep in cow dung as you a field of slurry and angry cows.
I had a sense to follow the path laid down by Balding’s own ramblings this past Sunday. The weather was perfect British walking weather in that within the space of being sentient and conscious for 20 minutes it had rained, blown a gale, shone brilliant sunshine and dropped to 7 degrees centigrade. As I locked the door behind me, dressed in appropriately in jeans, t-shirt and trainers and plugged in my headphones the sky still threatened to do each of the previous weather systems either all at the same time or individually.
The fresh, enervating country air seeped in to my very pores and went straight to my head. Before I knew it I was nodding and greeting complete strangers and their swarm of Labradors with then kind of vim and vigour we Brits only indulge in when out walking or hoplessly drunk. If we ever combined the two then I truly believe that the world could possibly end. I yomped, I strolled, I even skipped along to the tunes in my ears and the sight of nature locked behind barbed wire. I compared those evil eyed sheep painted with purple and yellow splodges, and locked behind thick metal bar with inmates at Guantanamo Bay and smiled to myself. I admired the wonky precision in a dry stone wall that eventually gave up the ghost and crumbled in to a pile of prone stone at the end and marvelled in the way a Crow had the balls to attack a Buzzard who was at least 3 times bigger and is hard as nails. I breathed it in and exhaled slowly and then came to the end of the road, a T-junction.
I looked left, looked right, behind me and then up at the sky. I could see my house, sat gently in the near distance, my car comfortably nestled outside, cosy. I looked up at the sky again and across at the horizon. As the clouds gathered, the wind picked up and the first drop or two of rain snaked its way down the bridge of nose. I tried to channel Balding, tried to channel the Dunkirk spirit and continue with my ramblings, but I couldn’t. I failed Ms Balding. I turned back towards and my coffee machine. I like the outdoors, but not when it wants to drown, shred or dry freeze me.
I’m sorry Clare. I did take a nice photo of a tree though!