A Future For Individuals

Four walkers in a group in the far distance, one farmer out with a sheep dog and another driving up a track: a wet, windy, grey Boxing Day on the Ridgeway doesn’t hold a lot of appeal for anyone or anything, even if going for a walk is what the middle classes feel they are supposed to do to blow away Christmas cobwebs. It’s all in the name of quality time and bonding, don’t you know.

The Ridgeway, the day after Christmas. No religious symbolism intended

The Ridgeway, the day after Christmas. No religious symbolism intended

Apologies; sarcasm is rarely attractive.

A few Red Kites circled around and, it seemed, Blackbirds were uncommonly numerous, darting about the scrubby bushes and the brutally machine-pruned hedging. That was it.

At times the cloud was low enough to obscure Didcot, just a few miles away; other times it lifted. It didn’t rain hard but it might as well have. At least for the most part it was a case of fairly decent surfaces rather than gloopy mud.

As nearly always, it was worth the effort. I can’t say I was feeling full of seasonal merriment before I started out and the trip didn’t change that, but that’s a problem with the season and not me. I can’t turn on merriness on the turn of the calendar.

Over the weekend I was chatting with a lady whose husband died just over two years ago. She wasn’t maudlin or depressed about a Christmas alone; she wanted a break from work and to relax. What she was struggling with, what she resented, is the presumed and often forced bonhomie – of the season, of so many people, of the media.

It’s hard to be yourself when there’s so much commonplace pressure to be otherwise – that much is obvious.

Plausibly, in future, as ‘mass media’ fragments into ever smaller parts to be consumed by ever smaller audience segments, and as societies become ever more diverse in the composition of those segments, that pressure will lessen.