THe first being that the sweep came, saw and passed - the chimney that is. Actually, one very irritating thing about the locals is that so many of them say 'chibley', not chimney. At first, when stopping random strangers on the street to discuss the condition of my stack, I thought they were being cutesy , doing 'baby talk' for comic effect. However, baby talk is usually not cute anyway, its just incomprehensible babble, often irritating. The number of times I have been encouraged to listen and try to decipher - usually by a preening adult - the vital revelation a child is anxious to impart only to discover that I've lost ten minutes of my life conforming that circular objects filled with air can be classified as "balls", are incalculable. But as I progressed down the street discussing chimneys and wood burning stoves renovations with anyone who would listen, I arrived not only at the hardware store, but also at the conclusion that the mispronunciation of 'chimney' as 'chibley' is indeed a local effect. This discovery, accompanied by the inappropriate wearing of maxi dresses made want to leave Hull. I should immediately point out that I was not wearing maxi dresses inappropriately, but that Hull is, like many English cities, and I am risking prosecution for underexaggeration here, religious in its adherence to fashion following, and the maxi dress is, for females, the new religion. Unlike the cardigan, I can see how the concept of the maxi dress is imagined - an elegant summer item, lightly swathing the wearer in waterfalls of draping fabric: very attractive- and in fashion shoots, it works very well. But in reality, it only works on certain body shapes in certain fabrics, and in the cheap clothing/bad food capital of the UK, where over-made-up is the norm ans subject to a constant North Easterly, the actual effect on the street is that a stroll to our local shops is like walking through an open air canvas tent factory, staffed by pantomime dames shouting "chibley", during a gale.
The remedy is of course to get away, and the second annual Ride of Hope beckons. But here, a bombshell must be revealed. Cheek to Cheek's Second Annual Ride of Hope will not now be occuring in the Welsh Border regions. This year the ride will bring Hope to Northumberland. AN approximation of the route can be found here.
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I say approximation because this year we have dispensed with the official national cycle network and are striking out on our own, deciding on exact routes on a nightly basis. The reasons for this are many, but one primary reason is that our planned route to Bristol took us through the southern Welsh valleys for at least a day. The Southern Welsh valleys are attractive landscapes, to an extent, but they were also the site of the mining industry of Wales. Great people definitely (judging by the friends I have who derive from the Welsh Valleys), inspirational music for sure(in the form of the classic male voice choirs) and an early site of British Socialism, but the area is scattered with ex-mining villages, museums and all the reminders that this was an area where communities were destroyed by political motivations, not economic or environmental changes. Having lived most of my life in areas similarly affected, and living somewhere now where much the same processes are occurring, and finding the British political landscape deeply depressing, I wanted to go somewhere less recently affected. Northumberland, while not immune to the vagaries of modern politics, is much more remote. It is literally 'getting away from it all'
Finally, on a happy note, I can report that this year's annual plunge into the mire of depression has been successfully negotiated. I know this because a week ago, during a routine conversation re cats, in the middle of a sentence about Toshack's latest exploits (lying round all day, chasing Cheeky Monkey, miaowing frequently), I suddenly noticed that I was blubbing uncontrollably about being a failure, and immediately following said blub, I felt much better. "Hang on" I asked myself, "Better?". "Yes" the other me replied, "Better".
A quick review of the commensurate day revealed that I did indeed feel 'better' having been unblissfully unaware for several weeks that I actually felt 'worse'. Walking to the local store now did not require seventeen checks of the front door to ensure it was locked when leaving the house, and furthermore, that the trip was not now conducted under urgent notice, with a pounding heart as a 'must do' at an exact pre-determined time, failure to accomplish the objective of which (buying milk) would be cataclysmic, but success of which would be grandly ticked off on my 'to do' list under "#3. 14:35hrs. Buy Milk". Walking, riding, talking, going to the toilet or indeed any process involving planning on a higher or lower cognitive functional level no longer resulted in a slow motion sensation that one's brain was full of slow setting chocolate, and the endless writing of lists referred to no longer include as objective #1: 'Get up'.
So now its back to normal - being scared of buttons, watching wasps hunt caterpillars, having long conversations with cats and obsessing about ear hair. Time has once again become a friendly ocean that I bob around in, with a few distant islands as reference points, not a raging torrent full of rocks waiting to smash you to smithereens, and people have, for the most part, become human again, not a series of active malicious thoughts. Once out of a depression, my own overwhelming feeling is one of relief, often associated with relief that I didnt accomplish certain things. This summer that has mainly been that I didnt yet get round to building a fire in my 'chibley', or buy RHB a floral maxi dress.