Jan 24 2013

The unrelenting ‘Meh’ of nothingness

Its snowing everywhere except here. Here lies sleety Lambert and Butler fag ash grey, soggy pavements, the overfamiliar and the uninspiring.

Nowhere is going to be nice and I hate everywhere. I can’t afford to go to the other sorts of everywhere that might be nice but charge an admission or that consist of high falluting foods I can’t afford or understand.

On BBC 24 lies snow covered Nirvana. Children on sledges woooosh down Narnia hills in Luton. In Peckham, gangs lol with snowballs and all join in together to make snowmen with slightly larger than expected testicles.
Oh, its such jolly jolly fun everywhere. In the snow.

Or with money, not in the snow.

I hate January. I hate January in the only non-snowy place in possibly the world. I hate people in January with their festive new hats and coats on. I discover a new hatred of people who wear scarves wrapped smartly round their necks.
A dog walker in neat jeans and a turquoise scarf should be dead by now if ESP actually existed.
Oh and wellies when the ground conditions are really not all that bad at all-they can all die as well (this also applies to beaming girls at summer festivals)

Anyway. I am cross. We are skint.  My sister has arrived from Bristol demanding to see snow but with her only footwear being stilettos. Well to be fair, two pairs.

We try and find snow.

Shap, the devilish  bleaker than bleak Cumbrian fells of Shap will deliver snow. Everyone knows that. Shap has snow, death, and horseless carriages on your average July noon.

We drive to Shap. My sister looks at the snow in Bristol on her iPhone. Shap remains for ten miles of driving, completely free of weather, just that overhang of forbiddingness like a particularly bad hangover or before you visit the bank machine.

There are many stone circles on Shap that require a foreboding walk.

I have always wanted to be here with a day ahead of me to explore a dark Neolithic past, to touch the stones put up centuries ago and try to imagine the landscape how it used to be, to think of hunched grim figures etched against the moonlight, their rituals, loves and deaths.
But some of us have innappropiate footwear.

My sister and I have in common a guilty enjoyment (one more guilty than the other) of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding in which Appleby is featured prominently due to the annual horse fair meeting in Summer in which Channel Four cameras record continuously revel in every tiny seedy speck of the travelling community they can possibly find and then BOLD, HIGHLIGHT and RECORD.

It being a freezing depressive day in January, I am quite interested in seeing Appleby. In my head, it is summer there because I saw it being summer there once on Channel 4.

It is not summer in Appleby. And there are no travellers. There is possibly the best cat I have ever seen there though although I appreciate this may not make a popular television show.

Appleby for possibly  summer related reasons has no signs to carparks or parking spaces so we stopped in a street where if you were paranoid you could feel every eye in the street looking at you. The best cat in the world came up to us-light, fluffy and friendly with big fluffy cat pantaloons, she followed us until I imagined her dead under a car when we crossed the road so thus my partner hissed at her and she ran away.The crisis in Syria has not upset me so much as seeing a lovely cat hissed at.  This is why I am English.

Appleby is an ancient small town, greyly pretty and wide-streeted and it would take but an hour for a film producer to make it into a film set from a few centuries ago. There is a village bakery which happily produces vegetarian cornish pasties, a few independent clothes shops you feel guilty for looking around and not buying anything and a glorious butchers which features suprisingly enormous animal parts displayed neatly on matt white paint. I think of serial killers and loft apartments, the neatness and the blank clean space.

Along a cobbled alley is a cafe and a wine bar. We are the first people there that day and eat simply and cheaply (the old chips/soup /wine combination) but it is good and we watch the snow finally properly fall against the window.

And for one minute, I like January again.