Sunday, 23 August 2009

Holes and Roots

The holes of this blog are on account of the gasmen who have been laying new plastic pipes in our road, after digging huge craters at the edge of all our narrow driveways. Or at least they were doing so until last Friday when they downed tools and suddenly left, leaving us with the gaping holes and very few places to park since our road is narrow in any case. Needless to say we all complained bitterly to the company responsible for the digging and this week a new gang came and worked with a vengeance, thoroughly blocking the road with digging machines, vans, and trailers carrying great coils of brilliant yellow pipes. But thank God it's nearly done; it only needs to have tarmac laid to cover up the gouges in the terrain and then the road will be at peace again.

Which is good because this road is an ancient laneway which was used in years gone by for walking and leisurely strolling, and still has that atmosphere about it: at weekends people walk their dogs down the road on their way to a local nature park, people cycle down it heading for the same place, and others jog through it. It's quite normal to see people walking idly in the middle of the road not bothering to use the pavements. I do it myself! It is one of the reasons why I came to live here, the way it feels so settled and still tightly linked to a vanished past. Once the area was a fruit farm, and there are still damson trees, apples, plums in some of the hedgerows and also in the nature park I mentioned. I have just been for a walk with my small dog, and stopped to fill a bag with damsons to cook for supper!

This is probably why I'm so attached to Ty Newydd, the National Writing Centre for Wales, (if I feel I must go an a writing course or retreat it's here I make for). It too has a deep sense of anchorage, first because it was the home of the great politician Lloyd george, and his presence lingers on - I don't mean in the form of haunting but in the knowledge that you can sleep in what was his room, you gather for readings and sharing work in progress in the library, the room where he died - and secondly because the staff rarely change so it's like catching up with friends each time you go.

And from some of the Welsh writers I have met at Ty Newydd I have learned how important their roots and connections with family and birthplace are. Their deep sense of connection with place and people makes me feel like a tumbleweed that has bowled through life with no real place of belonging. It doesn't bother me, as life has been full of rich experience. But theirs is so other to my own experience and has a great richness of its own.

So from holes to roots, and in a way the yellow plastic pipe being laid beneath our road and houses are another form of root, connecting each of us not only to a gas supply but in a strange way to each other by a rooted network of piping.

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