Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I'm reading Balzac, knocking back Prozac

To A Friend in Search of Rural Seclusion

When all else fails,
Try Wales
- Christopher Logue

As previously discussed, I spent the weekend in the countryside - the Sussex/Hampshire border, to be exact. The visit marked a rare departure for me as I usually hate the countryside, and most particularly, taking holidays in it. I am a city girl through and through, and get itchy if out of trotting distance of a newsagents, supermarket and public transport point. I think I'd probably enjoy the countryside a hell of a lot more if I could drive, because then it would be something pretty I'd glimpse at speed from a window, rather than something stuck to my shoes.

Besides which, I'm a lover; not a walker - something I reflected on as I trudged to the next village on Sunday to buy the papers. I think my hatred of the country stems from childhood, when my parents would uproot me from in front of the TV every summer and drag the whole family off to some godforsaken corner of France, believing that the "authentic" French farmhouse experience - no central heating, intermittent running water, overpowering smell of livestock, bugger all to do - was somehow more worthy than a week in the Costa del Sol. I guess it's a Catholic thing: the less fun you're having, the better an experience must be for you.

Even now, my mother still tries to tempt me on holiday with her and Dad. "We'll pay for your flights," she coos. "It'll be a real chance to get away from it all". But sadly, bitter experience has taught me that I don't want to get away from it all, I want specifically to stay in the middle of it all, eating convenience food and exploring the possibilities of 24-hour media access.

Another problem is that my mother (and sister) believe that sunbathing is an activity. It is not. It is the absence of activity, whilst being too hot and having things land on you. Tack two of Mother's Holiday Recruitment Plan is, therefore, "ooh, it'll be really sunny". Even she really ought to be able to read my lack of desire to go sunbathing in my constant refusals to do so, and incredibly pasty complexion. (Blood Donation Nurse, peering concernedly at me: "Are you always that pale?" Me: "Yes." Nurse: "Oh. Gosh.") In recent years, however, my total refusal to venture outside between April and September unless absolutely necessary has won me new found respect from my mother, who has even acknowledged that years of sunbathing may have taken their toll, admittingly ruefully, "I look a bit like a handbag".

Anyway, now I refuse to go on holiday except to cities, and not in summer. The cottage this weekend was an exception, and I hope my companion for the weekend appreciates my noble sacrifice on his behalf, particularly as there was initially no heating, and I fell over in a puddle on the first day, manking my jeans. My back-up trousers, alas, were not actually trousers, but a pair of ill-advised black city shorts/pedal pushers, which are a bit too much like piratey pantaloons for my taste. Combined with my new trilby (the subject of many jibes by my ex-boyfriend over how I look like Liza Minelli), knee-length boots, jacket and jaunty stripy gloves, I had to fetch the papers looking like a Michael Jackson impersonator who had fallen on particularly hard times (perhaps an easily explicable occurrence...)

So there you have it: I hate the country, and the country hates me right back. It senses my presence, and over the years has thrown whatever it could at me in the form of freak weather and over-affectionate animals. I might well be a professional cynic not to appreciate the rolling hills, fresh air and general bucolic idyll... but I think I like it that way.

An Illustration of Why I Hate The Countryside...

Fantasy, and Reality


Blogger Paul B said...

Aha, you've got pale skin. Hence Galatea. After wondering what significance the psudonym has as long as I've read this blog, the penny finally drops.

12/13/2005 5:19 pm  
Blogger galatea said...

nah, it's galatea cos i am trying to become the perfect woman. or something... it was some wanton hubris years ago, but it stuck.

someone once thought it was "gala-tea", as if I would name myself after some beverage party.

but, yes, I am pale. "English Rose" is what I'm pitching for, but "Gollum" is nearer the mark. Although I do, apparently, look like Princess Beatrice. Though not ginge.

12/13/2005 6:01 pm  
Blogger The Grinch said...

...and you have a trilby! So do I! I'm so excited to meet a fellow trilbyite, although, now I come to think of it, that's a species of long-extinct crustacean, isn't it?

You are spot on about sunbathing. What a uniquely ghastly concept it really is. I am so fascinatingly pale that I burn when I pick up a copy of The Sun, but even if I was buff and olive-hued sunbathing would still be fucking boring. And even if it wasn't fucking boring it would still cause skin cancer. I find it completely incomprehensible that human life is even possible south of Toulouse.

12/13/2005 8:02 pm  
Blogger Paul B said...

You look like this? Not only are you a bit older than I'd thought, you are also apparently dead.

Oh, no wait, there's another Princess Beatrice... aha. That makes more sense. ;-)

12/14/2005 11:25 am  
Blogger leflange said...

I also burn and have a problem with sun bathers. It's just about acceptable if I'm knackered, to lie out in the non midday sun and doze, as it feels replenishing. But the idea of it as an activity! Jesus. Really upsets me.

The countryside also sucks dick. Very peaceful, but also very boring. I'm very much a city man, and it freaks me out that at my parents' house, when I turn out the light it's properly pitch black and you can't hear a sound. I'm used to darkness being kind of orange.

And I've read Balzac, and he sucks dick too.

12/14/2005 3:15 pm  
Blogger galatea said...

Yes. I do have a trilby. It's furry, though, because I thought a collapsible one would be handbag friendly.

My resemblance to Princess Beatrice does not extend, luckily, to sharing the Ferguson overbite and hamster tooth combo. I'm not saying that my teeth are going to win any prizes, just that they do not look like that.

Hadn't thought about darkness and silence, but do thoroughly agree. The 188 bus going past my window is like a welcome friend at night, albeit one full of louts and other undesirables.

12/14/2005 3:34 pm  
Anonymous Laura said...

wow. on reflection, you really do look like Princess Beatrice.

12/15/2005 8:24 am  
Blogger Paul B said...

Which one?

12/15/2005 11:16 am  
Blogger galatea said...

do you think i should have some cosmetic dentistry to create an overbite and spend the rest of my life blagging free entry to clubs?

it would be an sizeable investment, but a worthwhile one...

12/15/2005 11:36 am  

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