Ennui, they called it in the 19th century. Women trapped in unchallenging lives by social mores and gender discrimination. It’s the unchallenging and trapped bit that applies in my case – though hopefully not for much longer.
The forecast for the weekend was promising, but in truth it’s just been warm and grey. Not that it would have made much difference if it had been fresh and sparkly: I just don’t have the motiviation, the enthusiasm, the emotional desire to engage in this land of strangers and strangeness.
During the week I picked up leaflets for various cycle routes leading in various directions from Welwyn Garden City. I need the exercise, I love being outdoors, and I love exploring. The Cole Green Way (WGC to Hertford and beyond) I cycle almost every day when I’m camped in Hertford (21 miles a day is definitely exercise enough!) but I haven’t tried the route the other way to St Alban’s. Perhaps I should. Some time. St Alban’s is, I feel sure, my sort of a town: I could even go to communion or evensong in the Cathedral, or both. (That said, I could easily have gone to a service in Chelmsford – but I didn’t).
It’s 1140 already – too late to make the most of the trip. I really should try this next weekend. I’ll almost certainly never have the chance again. I don’t like it here in SE England in general, but I’m sure there’s something at St Alban’s that will lift me out of myself. I’m thinking Cathedral, Roman remains, pleasant leafy avenues, old-fashioned bookshops (but not likely to be open on a Sunday?). There you are, I’ve written it down, I’ve got to do it now! Next Sunday. Unless it rains. ;~)
Jonathan: Working at Mouchel office in Chelmsford today – very near the station. Took 80mins to travel 40miles there and another 30mins finding somewhere to park. Carrying out an independent check of major changes to a new road already under construction. The scheme is the extension of a Roscommon Way in Canvey Island, from the roundabout by Morrisons to industrial and housing areas close to the Thames shore. It was designed as a dual carriageway, but due to spending cuts it is being reduced to a single carriageway. Over 32 years in this business I’ve worked on lots of ‘dualling’ schemes: but ‘singling’ a road is a first for me! Original design was done well: the singling in a hurry, and it shows. I never like doing independent design checks: all the fundamental problems are always ignored, usually just a few of the relatively superficial errors are sorted out, and even that’s done grudgingly.
For all that Essex is a wealthy county and Chelmsford the county town, it seems to me a worn-out, dirty place. But the tiny CofE Cathedral has lovely grounds, and I enjoyed my lunch sitting on a bench in the September sunshine, watching the world go by. It was striking what a high proportion of people seemed to be young women: and striking also how most of them seemed to either be footballers’ wives – or wannabe footballers’ wives! Back at the office I mentioned this: Essex Girls, apparently, are in a class of their own.
To be honest, my day in Chelmsford left me more depressed than I’ve been for a while about the dreary shallowness of modern life. I cannot for the life of me think what I would do with myself if I had to live here in Chelmsford.
Jonathan: Here I am in my old motorhome, on a caravan site at Welwyn Garden City (N of London). This is where I work – well not the campsite, but in an office here in WGC! – designing maintenance and improvement works, mostly in Hertfordshire. Three weeks away, one long week at home: that’s how its been for the past year and a week: Yup, we need the money! I’m supposed to be designing major works, but the little work that comes my way now is trivial. Designing bypasses, upgrades to motorway, new tram systems, that’s what I’m used to: right now I’m down to sorting out broken pipes and resurfacing roads! And even that work I’m having to stretch out. Driving me mad! Brain going dead! Anyhow, back in Uist, our finances are now not in so desparately bad shape, and our various enterprises are slowly making progress and giving us increasing confidence in the future. So now it looks like there’s a change coming up, one way or another. I’m looking forward to it!