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Sunday, 11 January 2009

Far from the maddening crowd

On Wednesday night, after a day of major clearing with distressing physical symptoms, I was lying in the bath, feeling melancholy and wondering what life was about. When I began to seriously think about my life and all the things I have done, I realised that for most of that time, and certainly since Mum died, I do not think I have ever fitted in. The small island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel, where I holiday on a regular basis, is about the one place where I truly do feel happy and where I feel as if I belong. I have thought about applying for a job on the island many times over the years, but family lies have prevented from doing this. As I lay in my coconut scented bath surrounded by bubbles, I began to feel that at this time in my life, it would not be such a bad idea.

Lundy is as far removed from mainstream life and society as it can possibly get, while retaining the home comforts and good aspects of the modern technology upon which we have learnt to depend. The island has telephone connections with reasonable mobile phone coverage, and broadband, while staff properties have televisions and other mod cons. I need have no worries about not being able to obtain the things that I need, since everything you can buy in the shops can also be bought online, very often at a lot less cost. It is true that the majority of jobs on the island are less skilled than I am used to - catering and bar work for example, or housekeeping - cleaning, mending and so on, but it wouldn't matter what I did for a living in such beautiful and tranquil surroundings, as there is a different pace of life, where the trappings of modern life and the labels that we attach to them in the form of ego fall away.

As I began to think about the logistics of such a move, various obstacles sprang to mind. Issues surrounding health and the lack of medical care (there is no resident Doctor on the island), obtaining money, what I would do with the house and the car, and what it mean for my relationship with my partner. The medical issue takes care of itself, since there is nothing wrong me with anyway, apart from depression, and a few weeks on the island would soon cure that. As for money - what would I need it for? Anything I bought from the shop or Tavern would be on account, the bill being cleared by credit card at the end of each month. Lundy like Iceland, is a virtually cashless society. Anytime I did need cash, for a visit to the mainland perhaps, I am sure that Nigel who runs the shop would be able to oblige, by cashing a cheque. He does for the rest of the islanders.

The issue of my partner and what it would mean for our relationship is a bit more difficult to solve, and truth be known, the main reason it has taken me this long to make the move. My patner is not a traveller, he never has been and never will be. Try as I might (and believe you me I have) over the years, he refuses point blank to visit the island. If I went to live there, for a few months, or more permanently, that might persuade him to visit, but it is worth taking that risk? If he could not bring himself to (he has a major fear of both sea and air travel, being violently sick last time he tried either of them) then it would almost certainly split us up. That is a risk I am not willing to take.

Apart from anything else, if I did leave this area, who would take on the village newsletter? The previous Editor advertised for almost a year before I stepped forward, and at the time I didn't even live here. I took the job on and cannot just walk away at the drop of a hat, it would not be fair to the rest of the team, let alone the community, who would lose a vital source of news and light reading, that the elderly in particular really look forward to.

A month long sabbatical, as a volunteer, may however be possible, once my issues have been dealt with, so watch this space. I have a week's holiday on the island booked at the beginning of March, and a lot can happen between now and then.

Thursday was fortunately a much better day, as was Friday also. My partner and I went to volunteer at the local computer learning project, helping members of the community learn how to use these machines. I showed a new lady the basics of how to use Word, and was surprised at how well I did, since I did not think I had in it me, or knew enough to do this. Later that afternoon, I had a telephone call from one of my occasional contributors to ask whether I would put something in the February edition asking someone to help with her housework. Given my own situation, and that this is probably what I would do if I did move to Lundy (house keeping), I volunteered for the job. It is only a few hours each week, but every little helps.

It is the second time this week that the universe has prompted me re this type of work, as at the beginning of the week, I had a call from another lady who runs her own cleaning company, wanting to advertise in the newsletter. I don't deal with the advertising myself, so I passed her on to the lady who does. Perhaps this, combined with writing, will be my new career? I used to joke with my old boss that he should change my duties to cleaning so I could get a pay rise, never a truer word spoken in jest ...

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