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Splendid Isolation

April 20, 2013

I had a speaking engagement yesterday. The venue was Castleton, a small village set in a remote area of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. It was a beautiful evening as we drove to the Centre where I was to speak, and once we left the fertile fields of the lowland farms and began to climb towards the high moors, I was struck not only by the savage grandeur of the countryside, but also its isolation.

Occasional villages, really little more than hamlets, came as a surprise when they appeared suddenly round a sharp bend in the twisting road. In fanciful mode it was possible to believe that perhaps they were only visible when travellers passed by, disappearing like Brigadoon between times.

Apart from these, the countryside was all but deserted, with only one or two farmsteads to be seen, hidden away as if huddling for protection from the weather on the lee side of the towering hills. My surroundings contrasted starkly with the news being broadcast on the radio. Events in Boston, in Waco and in China were all too poignant reminders of the frailty of human life, whether it is terminated due to wilful misdeeds, terrible accidents, or the awesome power of natural disasters. This set me to wondering what the compulsion is for humans to congregate so gregariously in such large numbers. Villages I understand, for I have lived most of my life in them. Small towns I can tolerate, but large cities, where is the attraction in them?

It must be a fault in my make up to prefer such splendid isolation. If not, the countryside would be crowded and the towns and cities deserted. And if that is the case, just leave me to my misogyny. Keep your conurbations, they hold no attraction for me whatsoever.

During our journey, once we left the main road, we only encountered four cars. I remarked on the fact when talking to one of the locals. ‘Four cars?’ He queried, and after a moment’s thought added, ‘Aye, it does get busy on a Friday night.’

One Comment
  1. I’m with you there, Bill! I don’t do cities if I can help it – mind you, thank goodness most people do or it would be crowded out here in the sticks.

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