Sunday, 15 February 2009

Strange encounters

A strange social phenomenon occurs every time I go for a walk where I live.

My picturesque village is situated on the outskirts of a major town - in an estuary, close to the sea. The walk takes me from the centre of the village out to the countryside, along a field with cows, followed by a bird sanctuary with views over the sea. Finally, it leads back into the village, with its many shops, ten pubs and restaurants again. (Sorry, that should be eight pubs. I noticed today that two of them had closed down, due to the recent financial crisis, one guesses.)

Now, I could of course tell you about the many signs of Spring I saw this February Sunday - the lovely air and the warming sunshine. However, I find it more interesting to draw your attention to something which has puzzled me for years:

Why is it, that strangers you meet during the countryside part of this walk always greets you with a polite "Afternoon" and a smile or maybe a nod and a "Hiya" - but noone even as much as looks at you in the village? In fact, you can meet the very same people when passing the Post office in the centre later, as you met when passing the twitchers' bird-hide, but their reaction will differ. All of a sudden, they have become anonymous and...well 'urban'. You sense the 'tube' feeling, if you see what I mean.

Why is that? To many 'urban' distractions? Green fields and cows bring out the best in people?

Comments welcome!

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