Steve’s on his way back on Friday after a couple of weeks on the other side, in the sun. He’s beginning to get cabin fever at my dad’s on account of only having three television channels, having no music (except yer dad’s Beethoven, apparently. My dad doesn’t listen to Beethoven…) and not having the internet or a bike. I would love this, since I would read and read. I would go for long walks and wander about. I’m beginning to worry Steve won’t like the early retirement we’re taking. Of course, he’ll have his guitars, his fishing equipment, his music, television, downloads, movies and his bike, so it won’t be so bad.
Jake is a little more complex: some things he likes are free; others are highly expensive and/or not available in France. I think, though, we can show him the light of the simple life. He’s just spent the morning making phosphorus bombs with tinfoil and matches. He loves science experiments of the vinegar volcano/coke and mentos variety, so as long as he can experiment to his heart’s content, he’ll be busy enough. He’s actually fairly happy to do this on his own.
Partly, this worry has been enhanced by several forums I frequent. Yes, I know I moan about these forums. I should avoid them. But forewarned is forearmed. In a way, it’s better to know about the pitfalls, I guess. There’s a couple of posts from ‘returners’ who are coming back. I get the feeling it’s not the England they left. I can only go off my feelings, but this is a violent and corrupt country at the moment. You know my feelings on this topic, so I won’t labour the point. But I was a little worried by the boredom some of the non-retirees refer to. They miss the shopping, the theatre, the cinema; they hate having to drive an hour to get anywhere interesting.
However, having said that, I still have two cinemas about 5 miles away. Both of them take fifteen minutes to get to. I have theatres. I go to watch Propeller Shakespeare productions, and that’s it. I have a library, which I will definitely miss, but then I have Brenda’s books to resort to (my step-mother has several huge bookcases and we have the same tastes!) We have a local pub, the Towler, which we like, but we go once every two months or so. We’ve been to three gigs in the last year. We don’t eat out, though takeaway pizzas will be missed, though that’s laziness rather than love. The boy will miss McDo, but with a McDo in Angouleme 20 minutes away, it’s not so bad. It takes us 10 minutes to get to the one in Bury anyway. I think timing will make it easier.
I’m not sure what people are coming back for. When I worked, I went out maybe every Friday or Saturday night, if I was lucky, and mainly on dates or with friends. I will still see friends and family. Steve will miss his friends popping round, but I don’t know if it’ll be that big a deal. I think they have a vision of being able to do something all the time, but it’s prohibitively expensive anyway. I took Jake and Damon to the pics on Saturday. 3 tickets, a popcorn and two regular drinks = £40.
We tend not to do that much with Jake. Jake and I did a lot last summer, and it cost a fortune. We went to the Chill Factore, and that was £40. We went to the cinema, but you’re looking at £15 each, really. We went swimming, which we’ll still be able to do. La Roche is only 10 minutes away; there’s parking and an outdoor lido. There’s also a good swimming pool in Angouleme, so I don’t think it will be that bad! We went on lots of walks – Rivington and so on, but we definitely won’t be stuck for that in France! Bike rides will be plentiful, and we’ll have the weather to do it, which we didn’t here. Sleepovers will still be same, though camping in the back garden will be more fun!
So… on reflection I’m hoping it will be cheaper, more sunny and what we do together will be more fun because it’s outside. For those who think they’re moving back to some idyll where they’ve got city life at their fingertips, when what they want is to be consumers. Luckily, neither Steve nor I are consumers in any way – whilst I used to, and it was lovely, I can live without it. Every penny I spend goes to some mass-corporation who milk us for all we’re worth.
Definition of irony: whilst looking for a site on anti-consumerism, I came across a fee-paying site for anti-consumerism. I know it says ‘not for profit’, but surely it should be free??!
Currently, I’m having an argument online with someone who thinks England is more stimulating, France is boring and there’s nothing to do. My point is that there might be lots to do in England, but it’s all bloody expensive. I have to pay to walk my dog at the Jumbles or Heaton Park. I have to pay to park to go to the library. Swimming baths are expensive. There is nothing free for under-5s to do outside the home on a wet day. What choice do you have but to let them stay in and play videogames or watch TV?
Here, Jake refuses trainers that aren’t ‘brand’. He won’t wear Asda own, or non-brand, or an ‘uncool’ brand. When I was growing up, brands were limited to three or four of the ‘rich kids’ who had Benetton bags and some of the boys had Cabrini ski-jackets. I had a couple of pairs of cheap shoes from the market, a whole load of hand-me-down clothes and my school uniform. I bought my own clothes when I earned enough to do so, so I had lots of band t-shirts and a few skirts and pairs of jeans. I didn’t have brand trainers – I had white tennis shoes, like plimsolls! 30 years on, and the world has gone mad, at least in England, anyway, with Nike trainers and Adidas and Reebok. It made me laugh that this woman thinks she’ll be able to live with her child constantly asking for stuff and she’ll be able to say no. The arguments that saying no has caused with Jake… it’s unbelievable! But we have to drive past several McDonald’s, several Burger Kings, a ToysRUs, and so it goes on.
I’m fairly surprised by the amount of anti-UK feeling I have! I didn’t realise it ran so deep!