I’m not really here. This is a blog post written in advance to maintain the flow, because I am offline, gallivanting about. This is quite a big deal for me, because I can’t remember when I last had a whole day off, and there’s going to be one of those, and probably two half days to keep it company.
This is a story that begins on the narrow boat. Canals are lovely in summer, but in winter, with no surface on the towpath, and no lights, those winter nights are isolating. When the weather is bad, getting out of an evening can be difficult. During the boat period, we did not get out much during the evenings in winter, and those evenings were long. What kept us sane and connected to the world, was a little wind up radio, with its aerial wired to the curtain poles.
It was a lesson in ancestral life. Electrical lighting and cars have not been with us that long, when you think about it. We take for granted being able to see of an evening, and being able to easily travel from our homes of an evening, should we so wish. Street lights, and predictable tarmac surfaces, are also great facilitators. For most of our ancestors, the roads after dark where unlit, and fairly dangerous places where thieves and wild creatures might be lurking! The further back you go, the more dangerous it would have been to go wandering round at night. The little circles of light and civilization become ever more important.
The modern western human spends the winter at home, and for the majority, light and heat are available at the flick of a switch. A sense of connection with the rest of the world comes readily when you have a TV, with up to date news, and human voices. To be out, isolated by the dark is less usual, but still available. Poverty and/or location can deliver. Sometimes there were no friendly lights near us where we moored. In the darkness, with bad weather battering the boat, we would have felt very isolated indeed, had it not been for the radio. Our contact with humanity. Our opportunity to feel like normal people. For Tom and I, working from home exacerbated this because we missed those daytime opportunities for normality that I think many boaters benefit from.
One of the features of those two winters, was BBC Radio 2’s Wednesday night folk program. A welcome dash of culture and community in our weeks. Two years running, we listened to the Folk Awards, and dared to imagine that there would come a time when, with lives, finances and travel options better organised, we could go to that. It was our shared Cinderella-goes-to-the-ball type daydream, only without the silly shoes.
So, this autumn, we were listening to the folk show from the comfort of the flat, and via the computer, and not having to wind it at all. The shout out came for tickets, for the Folk Awards, and we just looked at each other, and then we started scrambling to get on the website. It is easy to get to London from here, and so we are going. There will be adventures. We’ve come such an amazingly long way from where we were this time last year, and the prospects ahead of us are looking really good. In the meantime… there will be folk.