I took an early ‘retirement’ after working sixteen years in the bank and started my new life in England. For the first nine years I truly believed we were living in the countryside (bearing in mind I was a city girl from Hong Kong). It was twenty miles west of London. There was only one bus going past every thirty minutes. It would take more than an hour to walk into the local town, which I never did, I waited for the bus. When I sat in front of my window, I might not see a soul on the main road for an hour, or two.
Wait for this.
We moved. To a small but idyllic village, 127 miles north of London. There were buses running alright, to the local town seven miles away. One on Wednesday, leaving at 10:00, coming back at noon. Another on Friday also at 10:00, but back at 1:00. The extra hour stay in town is because it’s a market day, the villagers have to do their shopping. There are endless fields en route, and not that many houses. Now, you come to realise, as I do, this IS indeed the country.
The villagers were curious, even though the British are famous for being reserved. They had questions, buzzing. Where are you from? What brought you here? What do you do? Are you into Takeaways? Do you have anyone else in the UK? Whereabout are your other families? Do you travel a lot? These were the easy ones. Then our neighbours hit me out of the blue: Where did you learn your English? When you are thinking, do you think in English, or Chinese? I wasn’t prepared, almost got knocked over. I never told them that when I got anxious I spoke Cantonese with everyone. My Turkish friend would bear witness, once she even nodded eagerly. I was but too embarrassed to find out if she really understood my words, my predicament.
I am here to stay, hum hum haw haw away my loud thoughts. Meanwhile I am going to put the kettle on. Tea, anyone?