An Absence of Imagination

A reasonable run today, towards Nuffield and then down to Wallingford – one of those market towns that seems to be teetering between being prosperous and pleasant or poor and poisonous. Mind you, it has seemed that way for a long time so perhaps it’s doomed to exist in that middle limbo.

The shopping area doesn’t seem to be thriving but that’s true of most – perhaps all – high streets these days. All the dismal truths about ‘clone shopping streets’ aside (and Wallingford isn’t bad in that respect), the thing that gets me is how rarely I’m marketed to. I’ve read that 80% of the nation’s wealth is in the hands of the over 50s. That’s me! I have long given up ‘shopping for leisure’, not out of any sense of frugality but because the last few times I’ve been to a town for a mooch, with an open mind and a few quid to spend, I’ve come back with nothing. I’d have a lot more sympathy with retailers if they showed some imagination in who they’re selling to, how they’re selling to them and what they are selling. To completely miss people like me out, and to spend so much effort selling whatever the next shop along is selling, seems to me to be pretty dumb.

Anyway.

Talking of imagination, near Kidmore End today there was a young chap driving very fast indeed down the lane towards Emmer Green. At face value that’s no big deal – he wasn’t a threat to me – but it was very obvious that if anything unexpected lay ahead, he’d be in big trouble and so might anyone in his path.

To me, that’s obvious. It probably is to you too. Which made me wonder why it wasn’t obvious to him. It’s too easy to write it off as a ‘typical young man thing’ but that’s rubbish – not all young men drive like that. Perhaps it all comes down to a failure of imagination on his part – that he simply can’t, or hasn’t even tried, to consider the possibilities and consequences. Perhaps that could be a proper subject for education: life lessons. Perhaps a lot of what passes for wisdom would be better understood as imagination – being able to imagine consequences without having to actually experience them. Perhaps education should include training the imaginations of the youth.

Not long after that, nearer to Stoke Row, I came across a very young girl riding a small bike with a huge grin on her face, with an equally happy father jogging along behind. That doesn’t sound especially remarkable but I’m writing it down here because it is. You simply do not see that many obviously happy people about, of whatever age.