It's an everyday ordinary sort of late afternoon, the sun's going down,
the moon's coming up in a ragged half-eaten sort of way, the 'Northern
Lights' flicker on the horizon and to my right, through the open car
window, the Oil Rigs in the Cromarty Firth shimmer in the gathering dusk.
The 'Port' lighthouse announces itself by gently breaking through the
blanket of half-light and a tornado jet hangs briefly over Dornoch - ever
so briefly - before dive-bombing Inver (or so it seems) and then heading
south for home. Yes, an everyday ordinary sort of day and one far removed
from the hurly burly essence of modern life (except for the tornado jets,
the nearby bombing range, a low-flying helicopter heading for Skibo castle
and, of course, the Oil Rigs). That's Easter Ross for you!
I'm on my way to Tain, you know, the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Tain,
neatly packaged between the A9 and the sea. No suburban urban sprawl here,
not yet anyway. Pete Atkins sings "Session Man Blues" on the radio, geese
browse the fields, the old brick works on my left allow a brief glimpse of
a long defunct chimney stack, then into Arthurville where a Farrier shoes
horses on the roadside, the lights from the back of his landrover
forewarning distant traffic to be wary, dazzling and bright, then onwards
and into town.
My first stop is the supermarket; a crunch corner yoghurt, a litre of
milk, savoury crisps, a hotdog lunchable, and box of wine perhaps, why
not? Not busy here this evening, no, not really. Passing pleasantries with
the 'trolley man', a smile or two at familiar faces, their names long
gone, dimmed or mislaid by the passage of time, though comfortingly
familiar faces all the same. Next stop, the High Street. The zebra
crossing is empty. Post a letter. Smiles, waves and nods along the way.
The garage for unleaded petrol and then home.
The moon is now as smooth as it should be, the evening's turned to night,
the Oil Rigs are Christmas trees, the jet fighters are gone, pitch
blackness has enveloped the browsing geese and Andrea Boccelli's operatic
voice booms forth from the car audio system. I share my route home with a
startled rabbit, two roe deer and a fox. Yes, all is how it should be.
Time for chicken kiev and chips. And a glass of wine or two perhaps?
Now what's on the telly this evening? A man who 'grows' cows down at
'Riverside Cottage', heaven's forbid; Alfie and Kat in the 'Queen Vic';
Alan Titchmarsh in somebody else's garden.
Yes, an everyday ordinary - with a touch of the extraordinary - sort of
day. How was yours?
(Footnote for those outside the UK:
'Riverside Cottage' is a weekly television program about a man in Devon
with a small-holding. 'Alfie and Kat' are characters in a long running
'soap' drama set in the East End of London, much of which revolves around
the 'Queen Vic' pub. Alan Titchmarsh is a well-known UK gardener with his
own television series. Easter Ross is an area of Northern Scotland in the
Scottish Highlands, some 30 miles or so north of Inverness).
Of course I never use chemicals myself.
Far too expensive. And do they always work?
(Copyright Patrick Vickery 2004)