The everyday

Holiday in the country. But first you must push throughLondon’s circles of hell. Shabby blocks of flats, scrapyards, the odd garish outlet with its promise of redemption.Stratford. Half-finished Olympic installations in the damp grey air,Westfieldmall, the Gherkin on the other side, the City behind it.  Suicide stretch, you think to yourself, the planet’s suicidal thoughts materialised. All hope abandon ye who enter here, written in soot across the sky. The train squeaks down the filthy tracks intoLiverpool Streetstation. Afternoon rush hour, the city shoving out its crowds. I had not though death had undone so many…

What does it take to get away, just for a week? It takes money you don’t have, it takes a train, bus and taxi to get to a cottage by a road with constant traffic that even earplugs can’t drown out. It takes half an hour’s walk between farmers’ fields to get the zooming and clanking out of your head. The clouds part to reveal the setting sun, it warms you, you sit down on the tractor verge with upturned head. A snippet of the everyday after a day of seeming everydayness, maybe the day isn’t wasted, you think. Long rows of budding cabbage. Rolls of hay. The sun going down behind the bare trees, behind the hills, its rays spreading across the fields…

Is this the everyday? The everyday isn’t a day like today, you think, a day of travel, split into departures and destinations. Yet it has something to do with time, you tell yourself: the world’s time. Inhuman time. The everyday is universal, you think, everyday tasks notwithstanding. It’s the shifting of seasons across the earth, the orbits of moons, the lives of stars… To merge with the everyday: to let your life extend beyond your everyday self. The difficulty is to empty your mind of the noises that assail it, you tell yourself, of the stains it makes on the silence of the day.

But you’ve only just arrived in the countryside, you think, as you walk back to the cottage by the road with its non-stop traffic – the countryside that’s supposed to give you a break. The animals you’re here to feed for your holidaying friends, the rabbits and chickens, they know about the everyday, go clean their litters, watch them.

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