My Dear Americans,
I do like to go for a brisk walk of a morning, one of my favourite routes being that to Gillingham: note that it is absolutely vital, before we go any further for us to know that Gillingham (/ˈɡɪlɪŋəm/) is pronounced with a hard 'G', and that it is in Norfolk and almost exactly one mile away from my front door1: pronounced with a soft 'G' (/ˈdʒɪlɪŋəm/), however, it would instead be 113 miles away, or 119 going the pretty way, and in Kent, and instead of taking just under a quarter of an hour to walk to, it would take at least one day and fifteen hours 2.
But that's only an initial problem, as you'll see...
You see, as I said Gillingham is in Norfolk, and I live in Suffolk and although there are no border controls (merely the river Waveney) folks on either side of that divide consider folks on the other side as foreigners, as THE OTHER and other terrible things. Indeed it is not unknown for persons unknown in times of flooding of these low-lying areas to nip over to the other side of the river and breech the banks to ameliorate conditions on their own side
I have even heard it said that the Beccles campanile, which looms over the whole area and has three clock faces facing South, East and West, but no clock facing Norfolk because there is reluctance to even share the time of day with THEM!
Now the road my route follows is called Gillingham Dam, though it does not in the slightest way resemble, for example Hoover Dam, there are no vast bodies of water being retained, certainly no hydro-electricity generated: I mean it's only a few feet above sea level. No, this is just a slightly elevated road, hardly even a causeway, through low marsh-ish not-quite marshes replete with cattle (no doubt lowing in a suitably bucolic fashion), most notably a type of longhorn that, though the horns aren't really THAT long, takes me right back to Fort Worth (in our small island there isn't enough room to have proper Texas length horns). There are swans in the dykes, the occasional swine on a bike (who thinks peddling like a maniac gives him right of way), the odd pheasant et cetera all in all rather pleasant (apart from the cyclist).
The only other downside to this route is the vehicles that hurl down it at breakneck speed, regardless of its narrowness and of the accompanying sidewalk's even narrowerness (which probably explains the sidewalk cyclist, though it in no way excuses him). This morning, for example, a hurtling hearse (now there's an expression you don't use every day) a hurtling hearse barrelled past, thundering from behind me down the damned Gillingham Dam, though I suppose so was I (though at considerably slower rate). Very disconcerting, though it did nicely illustrate that old phrase "The quick and the dead".
As evidence of the inadvisability of too much of this vehicular peddle-to-the-mettling was the crashed car stuck in a bank a month or so back that resided there for at least a week loosely swaddled in police tape and with a rather odd, though endearing, sticker on its side window reading "authorities aware". It's nice to know that they aren't unconscious or asleep or looking the other way.
After a summer of drought and heat-ish waves we are back to proper English weather, with rain punctuated with periods of dampness. This makes walking briskly a bit more pleasant, though no less sweaty.
Which reminds me that when walking in the rain there is absolutely nothing worse than seeing a vast and presumably deep puddle ahead, centred on the road's verge and a car coming to pass through it at the very moment that one is certain to pass oneself, and so running like hell to get to the other side of it before the car hits it and makes a veritable tsunami of puddle, only to have the driver, with a vicious politeness veer out into the middle of the road to avoid splashing you.
Well, I suppose not running and being soaked by a less polite, though more vicious, driver, would be slightly worse, though then I'd end up less out of breath and aware of my age.
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
An excessively alliterative comment from Sue Williams:
A hurtling hearse, having harvested a has-been human, happened by in its haste to hand over its haul to the Here After.
I think the Cartoon Syndicate is spying on me!
This appeared a mere eight days after my essay.
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